Bec in the library

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges

The other FaceTime: being visible as a TL September 18, 2013

ETL 501 topic 7 – Information services to staff and students

Teachers in a school have a range of information needs which can be met by the teacher librarian. These needs include:

  • information on curriculum planning;
  • information on a specific subject area (to keep up to date);
  • information on current developments in teaching;
  • information on the use of ICT in the curriculum;
  • information on information literacy;
  • information on relevant print and electronic resources for learning and teaching in their subject area; and
  • information on what the teacher librarian can do for them.

Three key factors a TL needs to take into account before offering information services in a primary school:

  1. What information does the teacher/grade level already have at their disposal for their teaching and professional/personal learning?
  • check their planners
  • check existing resource lists
  • find out how the Tech Integrator’s role is/should be different from the role of the TL
  • find out from grade level leaders and PYP coordinator/principal about Personal Learning Network (PLN) groups and current readings/tasks/projects

2. What are the expected communication norms or Essential Agreements for teacher collaboration?

  • are specialists included in planning meetings?
  • is email the best way to communicate or individual face to face meetings better?
  • how much information/email is too much?

3. What level of classroom teaching involvement does the Educational Admin team expect of the TL and how can that level be scaled up/down?



The interweb said what?! August 18, 2013

ETL501 Module 3: Critical evaluation of print and e-resources

‘…TLs will be evaluating websites which, as far as possible, match the learning needs of their students – and obviously, these needs will be different for students in Year 7 or Year 12. Website evaluation, therefore, starts with student needs, and not with websites.”

Barbara Coombes, (2013) module 3


Surely this area is one of the most important jobs we have as TLs – getting the right info to the right kids at the right time.

How best to ensure the quality of the e-resources we guide them towards? Run all e-resources through criteria based on three key areas:

  • educational quality/relevancy,
  • reliability
  • technical aspects

The following questions can help crystalize the criteria:

  • Does the site meet the TL’s or teacher’s purpose?
  • What is the range of reading levels of the student group for whom the website is being considered?
  • Does the site contain activities for students?
  • Does the site allow for differentiation?
  • Will the site extend the learning of the student group?

Useful links – provides very comprehensive criteria to evaluate websites. Not kid friendly but good for TL/teacher use in planning stages. – very comprehensive “think abouts” for website evaluation for teachers/TLs, not helpful for kids.


Readings for website evaluation

Barcalow, T. (2003). CARS: Evaluating websites.

Ferguson, J. (2005). Why evaluate information found on the Web?

Harris, R. (2010). Evaluating Internet research resources.

Johnson, D. and Lamb, A. (2007). Evaluating internet resources

McGraw-Hill. (2001). How to judge the reliability of Internet information.

Porter, J. (2003). Testing the three click rule

Rogers, T. (2013). Eight ways to tell if a website is reliable. 

Schrock, K. (1996 – 2009). Critical evaluation surveys

Schrock, K. (2009). The 5 Ws of website evaluation: For students


504: Module 1, leadership March 14, 2012

Required reading

Cheng, Y. C. (2002). Leadership and strategy. In T. Bush & L. Bell (Eds.), The principles and practice of educational management (pp. 51-69). London : Paul Chapman Publishing. 

Reading response
Leadership is often broken into two parts: 1) influencing people’s behaviour and 2) working to develop and achieve goals.
My ideas about this statement:
1) make people feel important, valued and necessary
2) have a clear vision, be extremely transparent by outlining the process and the progress of the process
Bolman and Deal (1997)’s four leadership functions: human resources leadership, structural leadership, political leadership and symbolic leadership.
Sergiovanni: human, technical, educational, symbolic, cultural leadership
I can see how our new leadership team at my school is *trying* to show these leaderships but I’m not convinced they are working well yet. When I read the descriptors, I can relate them to some action taken by the new team but the dust had not settled and people are still not feeling great about the changes taking place. I think the “human” element is missing. Not enough sharing of the process maybe? Or just not the faith that it the new leaders actually have our best interests at heart, only looking at the dollar sign…
These 5 facets really help me understand how the leadership role can be broken into parts to see where the strengths and areas of improvement lie for my own leading.
As a visual learner, tables help me understand complex ideas much better and this table is a great example of how leaders can help facilitate quality education.

Required reading

Saskatchewan Education n.d., Adaptive leadership

Reading response

“Adaptive leadership includes a number of key elements that assist in achieving this end:

1. Developing a clear mission and vision (do it, live it, believe it)

2. Developing a culture of equity (all kids deserve the best education possible)

3. Building capacity for a learning community (personal, interpersonal, organisational)

4. Developing collaborative and distributed leadership (sharing leadership with many, everyone has the possibility to lead)

5. Fostering change and renewal (action research – get the data and then take action on it: plan-act-observe-reflect)

6. Enhancing staff growth (staff helping staff, not just outside PD)

7. Building bridges and networks (deliberate, conscious, structured collaboration)” p.1

Required reading

Henri (1994)

Henri, J. (1994, Summer). Thinking Leadership: What Place Vision? School Libraries in Canada, 14, 12-14.

Reading response

“Leadership is an art that focuses upon problem solving.” para 3

“Type 4 power has received considerable press coverage under the banner of transformational leadership. Leaders are transformative when they are able to shape and focus the motives and goals of group members. Such leadership is particularly attractive because it results in personal growth through the enhancement of individual and group problem solving capacities. Transformational leadership involves a strong element of risk taking because it enables group members to demonstrate leadership and because its adoption is likely to be culture changing. The transformational leader is likely to be seen towards the rear of the band as s/he ‘pushes’ band members ever onward and upward.” para 9

This description by Henri really resonates with me as I love the idea of leadership simply (?!) being the force that facilitates others WANTING to make changes and empowering them to do so. I don’t have a clear idea of how that actually works right now, but I’m hoping it will firm up for me as this subject progresses.

“Leaders need to get out of ‘home base’ and witness what is happening in other ‘games’. Leaders need to share their knowledge and observe their peers in action. Leaders need to trade swamps.” A’ha, I think this is where our school is sinking… new leadership who are NOT in the swamp, who do NOT know what is happening in other games.

Required reading

Hargreaves, A. & Fink, D. (2003), Sustaining leadership. Phi Delta Kappan, 84 (9) 693

Reading response

Some excellent examples of real schools and how they made long term, sustainable changes based on sharing leadership and giving all staff a stake in what their school said, did and believed.

Required reading

Lambert, L. (1998). What is leadership capacity? In Building leadership capacity in schools (pp. 1-9). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Reading response

I love the reminder that EVERYONE can be responsible for school change, not just the people in the paid leadership positions. Too often I enter a staff room full of bitching people who complain about the powers-that-be, not truly understanding that every single teacher has the *possibility* of being a change agent. The notion that all the power sits with one or two people in a school is simply not true. Of course, some paid leaders have no wish to listen to their staff and will carry on with their decisions regardless but why not at least TRY to have your voice heard? You CANNOT complain unless you have first tried to make a difference. As Lambert says on p5, shared leadership implies a shared responsibility for a shared purpose. A school’s purpose is the betterment of student’s and there is no teacher that I know who would say that they personally believe the school principal is the only one responsible for student learning.


Forum activity

What do leaders do? (in terms of observable activities)

Solicit, value and take action based on others’ ideas; facilitate teacher learning; plan-act-observe-reflect; champion their staff by believing in them, listening to them, defending them, quietly and personally challenging them.

What behaviours do they exhibit? (when leading change or responding to change)

Ability to activity listen and then take action.

What personal qualities do they possess? (inate qualities as well as those learnt through study and/or experience)

Charisma, likability, respectability, empathy, compassion, technical knowledge, being able to actively listen, the willingness to say what they do and do what they say.


The ‘polished’ Part C May 22, 2011

As I write this synthesis, I am experiencing one of the most powerful emotional responses in my personal learning journey to date: one of such complete frustration and annoyance that I find it extremely difficult to analyse where I have come from and where I want and need to go from here.

Each week during this semester gave me impetus to try new things, ask questions, shift my centre of understanding and balance further towards a more wholistic and complete view of how I could be a positive, empowering, exciting TL.

However, my learning has been completely recursive; each time I make a leap forward in understanding, an a’ha! moment, it leads me down a path of negativity before pushing through onto the the next exciting discovery and possibility by posting on, or reading the forums or using the blog as a sounding board.

After receiving cognitive coaching (Costa & Garmston, 1999) from a colleague, I am finally able to order my thoughts into coherency, based around my a’ha! moments.

A’ha! moment #1

The concept of libraries for a post literate society kick-started my journey in a way I never expected. The reading came from a different CSU M.ETL subject but served to highlight the educational landscape I was about to enter as a TL.

A’ha! moment #2

The whole of 401 Topic 2! Purcell’s (2010) summary of our role scared, excited and empowered me. Up until this point, my initial impressions, admittedly, were centred around relief and excitement at being part of teaching and learning whilst never having to write another report. These complacent ideas were soon squashed as I began to read and understand the vast nature of the TL role. I began to feel extremely disheartened. My sense of injustice of how a TL was supposed to be everything to everyone was overpowering. I was also completely flabbergasted that teachers didn’t know how to best utilise the knowledge and expertise of our TL. This taught me a very important lesson in advocacy that has burned its place into my professional soul – if a TL wants to support, extend and complement the curriculum, don’t expect anyone else to know that you can do it!

Lamb & Johnson’s (2008) focus on teaching and learning and how it is what separates us from the clerical staff was exciting. However, the depth of knowledge about information and technological literacy needed for this job floored me. This showed my total and utter misunderstanding of what the role of TL actually is. As I explored the notion of information literacy further, I moved from a place of certainty and excitement to frustration.

A’ha! moment #3

Valenza’s (2010) manifesto and vodcast – the passion and the power! Her monologue about the possibilities of quality information literacy instruction, especially that which incorporated web 2.0 tools, was incredibly appealing. Even though I didn’t blog about this point of my learning journey, I felt energised and ready to take our well resourced but decidedly 20th century library steaming into the 21st century. I immediately started several projects utlising Valenza’s ideas and saw positive results from the beginning.

A’ha! moment #4

As someone who always wants to be in the thick of every decision, activity, meeting and experience, being involved in the process of benchmarking IL in our school was pivotal to my learning. I was in turns shocked, thrilled and disappointed in the journey being undertaken. It was such a massive project and one that could so easily get lost and shelved, as it actually did previously. As the process continued, and the roadblocks become more apparent, I realised what an uphill battle TLs face when stressing the importance of IL  – the absolute core of what we do and who we are. I felt distressed and completely deflated.

I saw the desperate need to put into practice the rhetoric but the reality is so far from that I lost hope.

However, through the process of writing this synthesis, I am beginning to look forward with positivity and hope. There are people in my school who care passionately about the pivotal role of the TL and they are in the positions of power to make it a reality. It will just be a slow and steady race, one that would involve all stakeholders, one that will be mandated by the administration.

I never claim to have all the answers or to be the one with the necessary experience or knowledge but what I do have is the passion, the enthusiasm, the time and the willingness to fight for what I believe is important in 21st century education. I am not burnt by repeated “no’s” from the administration, I embrace the challenge of collaboration. I will be responsible for advocacy through informed learning.


THIS is why a decision can’t be made… May 16, 2011

Well, today was a mindf**k.

I have found out why someone can’t make a bloody decision (reference to an earlier post): there’s so many people involved, with all their experience and knowledge and opinions, it’s impossible!!

I spent the morning observing the educational technology team (TLs and ICT integrators across the 3 schools) attempt to benchmark information and digital literacy standards vertically across the school.


The process was sound: only bringing in the immediate stakeholders, having an impartial and skilled mediator who didn’t have particular ownership over any department (curriculum coordinator), clearly defined criteria, models and examples from across the world to draw from so as to not reinvent the wheel, time for small group work/individual reflection and digestion, plenty of water, food and breaks, jigsawing, paraphrasing, brainstorming.

But OH CHRIST ALMIGHTY it took FOREVER! I left after a couple of hours as it was making me even more confused than I already was plus I have the kind of personality that NEEDS to be involved in every discussion and not saying anything after a few hours was killing me 🙂

I didn’t feel comfortable putting forward any of my ideas, thoughts or suggestions as I don’t yet feel confident that these ideas, thoughts and suggestions actually make sense or would drive the discussion anywhere worthwhile.

I certainly learnt a HUGE amount by listening to these incredibly knowledgeable and passionate educators. I saw how much work it takes to make a document that is coherent and worthwhile, something that can be and WILL be useful and USED.

The mediator also happens to be a close friend so she let me ask some great questions about the process and the obstacles she feels the group are facing, and have faced in the past when this was first done a few years back. (Not as part of the whole group of course, just as a side conversation while the others were focused on the task at hand.) This was really important for me as this topic is my Part B for assignment 2: getting a whole school commitment to IL.

Her take on it was that there is a really, really fine line between people’s passion for seeing  IL implemented and their total and unwavering ownership over it which makes other people feel that the teaching of IL isn’t best practice, it’s a personal band wagon so they tune out and give up. She said that the reason the last attempt at IL failed was because the drivers behind it left the school and as it was such a personal ‘mission’, people felt a sense of relief that the people were gone and they didn’t have to teach it/implement it anymore.

OK, call me impatient, naive, arrogant, whatever, but I find that incredibly stupid and ignorant. Why does it matter who drives it and that they make it their personal mission to get it up and running? Doesn’t that mean it gets DONE? If no one makes it happen, it just sits there and all that work was for nothing! (Which is EXACTLY what has happened.)

I need to ask my friend more about this. I’m deeply confused and conflicted.

It does, however, completely explain why the EC3-Grade 5 literacy standards and benchmarks that myself and my language committee wrote over the course of two years were chucked out the door the minute I left the school…


loving the learning

continuing tales of a teacher librarian

PE to TL - The Journey Begins!

Reflections and thoughts on ETL401.


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