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?



Module 4: innovation and change April 9, 2012

Filed under: ETL504 — becinthelibrary @ 11:53 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Required reading

Fullan, M. (1999). Chapter 2: Complexity and the change process. Read for an overview of his change theory.

Reading response

Organisation as living systems

importance of relationships: a community of relationships, not just an organisation/business/school

living things are grown, not assembled; people aren’t mechanical, they don’t just “work” because you want them to or that all the parts are there

there are no cookbooks or silver bullets, every change process situation has it’s own complexities and nuances that have to be dealt with at the time using different strategies based on personalities, not a one size fits most strategy

Role of knowledge creation in innovation

knowledge creation is not the acquisition of best practices as products, it is rather the generation and learning of new ideas

successful learning communities regularly transform tacit knowledge (hunches, intuition, etc) into explicit knowledge: this requires tapping into the values, meanings, day-t0-day skills, knowledge and experiences of all members and making them available for communal problem solving

need to avoid “groupthink” where everyone goes along for the ride and forgets to critically evaluate the tacit and explicit knowledge being shared: must celebrate and embrace diversity of thought for this to happen; it does mean there will be some conflict

Required reading

Sergiovanni, T. (2000). ‘Deep change and the power of localism’.

Reading response

Geez, what a dry article!

Required reading

Hargreaves, A. & Fink, D (2003). Sustaining leadership. Phi Delta Kappan 84(9), pp. 693-700.

Reading response

Discusses the need for institutionalized change, not just implementing change – where teachers’ practice of the change is second nature.

Sustainability is not just management of change or how well change is maintained; it is how the change is shown once the glamour has worn off. In PYP schools, evidence of true inquiry would show sustainability; when all specialists and home room teachers truly teach with inquiry at the forefront, not just at appraisal or accreditation time.

Sustainable projects (or change) don’t squander or throw money at many pilot projects that leave no room or resources for anything else to happen/change.

Building long term capacity for improvement, NOT band aid solutions/change that looks great in the short term.

Improvement that: sustains learning, endures over time, supported by available or achievable resources, doesn’t impact on other surrounding school environment or systems, promotes ecological diversity and capacity throughout the school community

The idea that we have to look long term for sustainable change (Wayvern Secondary School example), not just the quick fix, keep the scores up and people happy type of change: very important but such a difficult concept to “sell”, don’t you think?

NB: the anecdotes in this reading are extremely familiar – surely I have read them in another article for this subject?

School leadership is not the sum of individual leaders, it is a system, a culture. Everyone is a leader, has the capacity to lead, therefore leadership should be encouraged in all, not just the elite few.

Leadership is vertical over time: influenced by the impact of predecessors, have implications for successors. Don’t just chuck out what was left to you and don’t expect that everything you leave behind will stay.

Required reading

Reading response
I’m constantly defending the role of the TL in schools. I know I should have pat answers by now but I don’t, especially in the face of a reality where the teachers don’t see the TL in classrooms very often as the school is too big for one TL (almost 800 kids, one TL – you do the maths.) Gibbs very rightly points out that we as TLs are only valuable when we make ourselves so by being in people’s faces, waving around our ideas and knowledge like flags. One middle school librarian once told me, “I wish the teachers would let me teach their kids, I can even do assessment for them.” I wanted desperately to say, “Well, did you go to the teachers concerned and show them your rubric/lesson ideas/etc so they could say yes without a moment’s hesitation?!” Of course I didn’t because I was just a lowly Library Tech and only at the start of my Masters so didn’t feel qualified to tell a highly experienced TL such a thing. It certainly opened my eyes to what it takes to get staff to collaborate with you as a TL as opposed to being part of a grade level teaching team.
Frankly, I’m sick of reading about high schools and universities and how poorly the faculty collaborate. I’m sure it’s still true, but as a primary teacher who has always worked in schools where collaboration is taken for granted (though it can always be improved), I’m mightily tired of hearing how teachers are all crap at working together. We need more examples of how fabulous many teachers/schools ARE at doing it right. I’d really appreciate our modules having more of these types of articles, not just the ones saying what we should do are what we aren’t doing. Most of these articles have good examples of positive situations but we need more. Perhaps I’m just searching for blueprints, hunting for confirmation that there are many outstanding teachers, schools, collaborative teams out there who can and do do what is best for kids and that it comes naturally.
I know many teachers feel like an island and that they have to do everything themselves – it happens even in the best of schools like the one I am working in now.
But it doesn’t HAVE TO and I really feel that it wouldn’t take much for this change to happen. I’ve seen, and am currently seeing, this type of change happening right now. It has taken two brave classroom teachers who were intent on involving the rest of their team and guess what, all the team freaking LOVE IT. The team is now trying to move rotational lessons and coaching forward by including subject coordinators and the curriculum coordinator in team teaching.
The TL has been involved since the beginning, not because he volunteered but because he happily accepted when asked. Sometimes all one has to do is ASK. So many lonely people not sure if their best is good enough and yet all they need is to be ASKED to share their knowledge/expertise/passion. The kids love it, so why not embrace it?

504: Module 2, leadership styles March 15, 2012

Filed under: ETL504 — becinthelibrary @ 10:46 am
Tags: ,

Required reading

Leadership That Gets Results by Daniel Goleman.

Reading response

Positive styles: coaching (try this), authoritative (come with me), affiliative (people come first), democratic (what do you think?)

Negative styles: pace setting (do as I do), coercive (do what I tell you)

Which ones resonate with me personally?

In my heart I love knowing someone cares about me and understands my needs so obviously the affiliative style would be great for me. Likewise, having an expert show me what to do as a suggestion, as in a team teaching situation (coaching style) is a great way for me to learn as I am highly interpersonal. I also place a very high priority on being allowed my say, being heard and feeling like my opinion is worthy and important so having a leader who shows the democratic style would be super. However, the biggest weakness I would perceive in these styles (for ME and the way I work) is that the hard decisions wouldn’t get made as the leader is too busy making sure everyone is OK/has a voice/tried lots of different things. Sometimes leaders just have to suck up the fact that not everyone will be happy.

And there in lies the whole point Goleman is making: all styles are useful and important but only when used at the right time, in the right situation. A great forum post remarked that the styles are like tools in a tool box – all necessary and all handy, just don’t hammer a screw. So apt!

Whilst I would love to see myself as embodying all those positive styles most often, I have to admit that my most common style, or what really resonate with me as a “yep, that’s what I do/think/say” is the authoritative with a fair dash of coercive and pace-setting! I have an idea or a vision, I get extremely excited about it and then BAM, expect everyone else too as well. I see what needs to get done and I’m all about bringing people along for the ride. This subject is really going to help me see how I can adopt more of the other styles into my toolbox more often.

Forum activity

On the forum, discuss any of the personality types and your experiences with dealing with people, particularly in the work situation, who may have one of these styles. 

The following forum post could have been mine word for word. The principal in my old school was exactly the same. She was certainly up against it with the issues she faced, with jaded teachers, a tough parent group and a board that was only out to make money. Interestingly, she was also detested by some members of staff because of all the positive things that Leah mentions – certain teachers just couldn’t handle the level of collaboration and expectation my principal had. They saw her as far too authoritative and almost micromanaging. I think the biggest problem was that she made them accountable for their poor teaching and they didn’t like being exposed. To my mind, having your principal team teach with you is a privilege, not an insult; having your principal patiently listen to your vision and ask probing questions, challenging you on what you believe and why is the conduit to growth, not an inditement on your ability.

Isn’t it very telling that the way we respond to leadership depends on our own personal views and beliefs, our own perceptions of our strengths and weaknesses? Certainly makes me realise how important, how essential, leading with very high EQ/EI is. Emma is so right when she says that email takes away the hugely important non-verbal component of conversation, interaction and communication. Get out of your office/classroom, people, and get in someone’s face!

“One of the best leaders I had was a school principal I worked for who came into a school as a fix-it person because the previous principal had some radical ideas that didn’t work and the school had lots of negative issues as a result. This new principal was a ‘breath of fresh air’ for many reasons. She knew the curriculum, she had confidence in staff and collaborated with them, she spent time every week in classrooms, even just to read a story- a simple way to connect with the kids. She also set high standards and expected us to follow them. All of these things were done in a manner of calm, confident, positive action. She was very inspiring.” Leah Hannan, forum post, March 12th


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.


504: Module 1, teamwork and collaboration March 13, 2012

Filed under: ETL504 — becinthelibrary @ 1:47 pm
Tags: , ,

Required reading

Law, S., & Glover, D. (2000). Leading effective teams. In Educational leadership and learning : practice, (pp. 71-86).Buckingham, England : Open University Press. 

Reading response

The concept of needing to consider people as both individuals and as parts of a team is very interesting. The reasons why people form or participate groups/what constitutes a group is also enlightening:

In a school setting, many people both choose and are chosen to be in groups for these reasons. How important is choice when it comes to participating in groups? How much does choice influence the level of positivity people bring to their group (surely a prerequisite to the success of the group itself and the outcomes the group hopes to achieve)? The reading talks about 3 key concepts that may help answer this question: the group members’ levels of inclusion, control and affection.

The following diagram is a really helpful table to have, as you can readily identify people in your team who personify the roles and then consequently know how to help them be a positive part of the team. When I’m next in a group situation, I’ll be thinking of these roles and structuring my responses and expectations around them.

Before I blog any further, I just want to say that whilst I feel very supported in my distance learning, I sorely miss sitting in a REAL room, with REAL people, in REAL time discussing readings. If we could use the jigsaw format of sharing, it would be even better and I wouldn’t have to read and digest so many bloody dry pieces of academia myself.

Required reading

Beck, J. D., & Yeager, N. M. (1994). Making teams work : an underused window of opportunity. In The leader’s window: mastering the four styles of leadership to build high-performing teams (pp. 183-206). New York : Wiley.

Reading response
 Some good ideas and thoughts in this article but as it was not education specific, I switched off pretty fast. Although there are obvious parallels between business and education, if I can’t see blindingly obvious examples of how a reading directly correlates to schools, I’m not interested.
Required reading
Reading response
Extremely interesting concept that frankly scares me. How WOULD a school run like this? They give lovely, soft focus general answers but don’t necessarily give hard examples. Principals, and other leaders, have a purpose and hopefully, that purpose is to make decisions and take action on issues that teachers themselves, whilst having input, are too busy focusing on teaching and learning to actually spend a lot of time on.
Required reading
Reading response
Well, this article just pretty much summed up my own thoughts as listed above!
Module task

Consider how decisions are made at your school, in your home, at the local club. How do the approaches taken in the readings by Harvey, Law and Beck match the way things are done in these places? Look at the range of tools used and the inclusiveness of the techniques. What can you learn from this?
Consider how you might adjust the current approaches and how you might make use of small group processes to gain good outcomes.
At times there feels like a lot of chiefs and not too many Indians, yet those chiefs don’t come to much consensus. I’m sheltered from most of the politics as I’m not working full time in a school, I’m only a sub teacher and spouse of a currently working teacher at the school.
What I do see and hear for myself is an almost total lack of sharing what IS being decided or worked on, or thought about, or done. I believe a huge part of working collaboratively together in a team is that people feel valued and appreciated for what they do; being recognised is essential. At our school, perhaps due to size?, this is so rarely done and the morale of the staff is often low because of it.
Nothing major, but a quick 5 minutes in a staff meeting to offer celebrations, thanks or sharing best practice would be a great start. Leaders MUST do this if they want happy campers on their staff!
Likewise, families need this recognition and appreciation too. My husband shows his love through actions, even little ones like making a cup of tea for me or clearing the table while I put the baby to bed so I can come back downstairs to a calm, clean environment of an evening. These small yet important offerings mean our family functions well.

504: Module 1, decision making and problem solving March 8, 2012

Filed under: ETL504 — becinthelibrary @ 12:43 pm
Tags: , ,

Required reading

Harvey, T. R., Bearley, W. L., & Corkrum, S. M. (2001). Core steps in decision making. In The practical decision maker : a handbook for decision making and problem solving in organizations (pp. 17-34). Lancaster, Pa. : Technomic.

Reading response

A very detailed look at how decisions can be made, practically and theoretically. A great resource if you want/need to change how decisions are made within a school. The graphics interspersed in the text certainly helped me understand more clearly the author’s point.


504: Module 1, quality management

Required reading

Tribus, Myron. The Journal for Quality and Participation16. 1 (Jan/Feb 1993): 12.

Reading response

“It takes constant engagement to wed a student to learning.” p.2

“…everyone in the system is expected, invited and trained to participate in the improvement process.” p.2

Quality is not the problem, quality IMPROVEMENT is what you are striving for.

“Steps needed when making changes:

1. Development of a general awareness of why it is necessary to change.

2. Establishment of goals and objectives for the change.

3. Understanding, broadly shared, of what the change entails…

4. A sensible set of first steps.” p.5

This reading was published almost 20 years ago and I do actually have to wonder how much relevance it has today. Are all schools really so stuck that they regard kids as production line materials? That testing really is all that matters? Do admin really still think teachers and students don’t need, want and deserve a voice in deciding what constitutes quality management? Are international and independent schools different in their approach to this as they are not bound (as much) to state or federal standards or funding?

I don’t really have answers to these questions. I wonder who does?

Forum activity: Consider how this model could be used to enhance the management of information service provision in a school. How might a teacher librarian use quality management to enhance his/her profile? Include your comment on the forum or add to the conversation already begun.

Starting with the understanding that quality, of whatever standard, can always be improved, using the “steps for change” (as I’ve dubbed them) would be a great way to enhance the management of IS provision in our school. Getting other stakeholders involved, such as students, teachers and parents, would be crucial in this as they have such a vested interest and opinion as to what constitutes quality and it’s improvement.

As a school, we have just opened up many of our systems to outside critique with success. The school community were open, honest and gave some interesting and suitable ideas. I am eager to see where the school goes with this new information. Hopefully it’s not just paying lip service to being transparent and keen to involve the community in our future direction.

Required reading

Streeton Primary School (2000). The 12 quality principles. In Q is for quality : continuous improvement in schools through quality management and quality learning (pp. 12-24). Yallambie, Vic. : Streeton Primary School. 

Reading response

What a fabulous read! So clearly laid out and extrapolated upon. The extremely clear school based examples make a lot of sense and make it far easier for me to see if and how our school is currently displaying quality management.

Module activity: Explore the website Quality Learning Australia Examine what Quality Learning is. Explore the Resources section, especially the free papers, to develop your understanding of how quality is being considered within this organisation in Australia.


I think that all schools should take the test in the above link, just to see if they really are providing the quality education they think they are. I wonder how my school’s admin would score themselves.


loving the learning

continuing tales of a teacher librarian

PE to TL - The Journey Begins!

Reflections and thoughts on ETL401.


This site is the bee's knees