Sarah Elliott’s Blog

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Archive for June, 2009

ETL401 Critical Synthesis

Posted by sarahelliott on June 8, 2009

My original interest in becoming a teacher librarian (TL) resulted from the frustration that I felt in my current school. A general atmosphere of resource mismanagement pervaded and I identified a need in the faculty for someone responsible for ordering resources to support the curriculum and the organisation of them.
Upon commencement of this subject, I started to realise that the role of a TL was far more complex than I could have ever imagined. I felt inspired with new ideas as I became engrossed in a wealth of information. In one blog entry (25/2, K – 12 Students Today) I discussed how thought-provoking I found the video A Vision of K – 12 Students Today (Nesbitt, 2007); it incited anxieties and questions regarding how our schools cater for 21st century learners. I was filled with both “excitement and trepidation” (24/2, The beginning of a long journey), unsure of what to expect, but eager to take on the challenge.
My blog post (05/03, Teacher Librarian first thoughts) demonstrated my awareness of the role of TLs early on in the course; thanks to this subject, it has now evolved and I am conscious that the need in our staff is far greater than I originally identified. New understanding of three major aspects of the role of TLs, those of leader, collaborator and information literacy expert, has caused me to completely re-evaluate this position in school.
My ideas about collaboration (05/6, Collaboration) show a progression of thought from regarding it initially as preparing curriculum resources for units of work, to believing in the need for integrated instruction by the teacher and TL in order to improve student learning. Bolton’s entry (23/4, ETL401 topic 5 sub-forum, Collaboration as a Challenge) made me realise that although daunting, approached with the right attitude, collaboration is possible and hugely beneficial for the school community.
As highlighted on my blog (28/4, And breathe), the first assessment task for this subject was influential and critical to my thinking. Learning about the role of TLs in establishing information literate school communities (ILSCs) prompted me to take action. I wanted to put what I was learning into practice. I produced a PowerPoint presentation about the role of TLs and pitched it to our school administration team. Their response was positive and the principal stated that she found it both “inspiring and challenging” (B. Pedersen, personal communication, May 11, 2009). I am confident that I have succeeded in securing my principal’s support, the importance of which I discussed in a forum entry (30/3, ETL401 topic 2 sub-forum, Principals etc ).
In another forum post (31/ 3, ETL401 topic 2 sub-forum, online support), I spoke about my amazement at the quality and quantity of existing online support for TLs. Following various TL blogs and internet networks such as ECIS library Moodle  (, teacher librarian ning ( and the ETL401 forum and subforums ( , as well as communicating with other TLs working in international schools on Facebook ( , has developed both my knowledge and appreciation of this profession. I have grown to understand the importance of networking and have become a true believer in knowledge sharing and learning from each other. Reading about this concept, particularly in Henri’s work (2005), was especially inspiring for me. I discussed my own plans to promote knowledge sharing in our school through a professional development wiki in an earlier blog entry (30/3, Fresh idea and thinking in response to literature) and in doing so am taking steps towards becoming a pedagogical leader.
I have been convinced by Macrorie’s (as cited in Jent, 2004) belief that “we talk and write our way into understanding” (p. 34). Reflection has become a bigger part of my life, through which I have shifted my mental model from TLs as providers of resources to enablers of knowledge construction. I have discovered that I hold the qualities of motivation, perseverance (03/6, Perseverance) and self-belief and I feel less daunted by the difficulties that I will face in trying to facilitate the development of our school community as an information literate one.
At the moment, my greatest challenge lies in determining what my priorities should be. Covey (1990) has taught me the importance of trying to live my professional and personal life in the second quadrant. I hope to follow his advice and become an effective self-manager. I plan to devise a long-term professional mission statement, formulate realistic goals and organise my time in work to focus on meeting my objectives.
Initially, I felt that I was at the start of an “impossible journey” (24/2, The beginning of a long journey) and I was aware that I had a lot to learn. Now that I have arrived at the end of this subject, I feel that I am still at the beginning of a long journey, but the mist has lifted a little and the route that I am to take has become clearer. I have discovered the importance of lifelong learning and am excited by the prospect of constructing new knowledge for myself and playing such a valuable part in the development of our school community.

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Posted by sarahelliott on June 5, 2009

One aspect of the role of the teacher librarian that I missed from my original brainstorm was that of collaboration. The fact that I omitted it is not indicative of its importance – it is in fact essential!
Whilst reading about collaboration, I came across a lot of examples of success stories of collaborative partnerships between teacher librarians and class/ subject teachers – such as in the case study Does Collaboration Boost Student Learning? Research clearly supports the idea that collaboration is a key element in enhancing students’ learning outcomes and essential in helping them to develop information literacy skills that will prepare them for life in the 21st century society.
The module readings state that “the role of the TL is maximised in an atmosphere that encourages team work and experimentation where learning is highly sought after”. This quotation highlights two major importances for me; firstly the need for collaboration and secondly the need to step out, break with traditions and try something new. I am excited about discussing the idea of introducing team teaching with class teachers, flexible timetabling with the principal and working with teachers to ensure student-centred, integrated learning.
Collaboration is not always easy, and in our efforts to put it into practice we are going to come up against some resistance. But, if we are going to make a difference, then we have to persevere. I agree that it’s important not to be overamibitious, achievable targets are a must! By initially establishing collaborative partnerships for integrated instruction with just 1 or 2 teachers, other members of staff will witness the benefits and become more confident and enthusiastic about working with us and eventually we can work towards offering a fully integrated curriculum. The support of the principal is imperative, as they will be able to set out expectations for collaboration and encourage teachers to participate.

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Posted by sarahelliott on June 3, 2009

Perseverance is a characteristic that I have discovered I have more of than I could have imagined! The ability to persist, even when it gets tough, is a skill that I am developing both as a student and a professional. It’s also an attribute that is important to develop in our students. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that we’re every going to achieve what can seem like the unaccomplishable. But, we have to stay strong, accept our problems and learn from the difficulties that we overcome. And then hopefully we can remember such experiences in the future and use them to our advantage.

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