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Archive for the ‘Teacher Librarian’ Category

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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Mental Models

Posted by sarahelliott on May 7, 2009

After reading Joy McGregor’s chapter How do we learn? I can see how her discussion about mental models applies to myself as I continue on my journey to understand what it means to be a teacher librarian. She states how mental models are quite simple in the beginning and then over time, once they are challenged by strong new ideas, they change and become more sophisticated.
I feel that my mental model of a TL is not and will not become too resistant to change! But, it has certainly evolved rapidly over the past few months. At the beginning of this course I already had an idea that TLs are more than just the stereotypical keeper of books. Although, admittedly, a couple of years ago my perception of their role was much closer to the stereotype than I had imagined. But, now I have moved totally away from that (thank goodness!).
I truly see the TL as a leader in schools and I hope to develop my own leadership skills. I’m growing in confidence and feel that as I really believe in what I’m saying about the role of the TL in school, I should be able to stand up and advocate that position.
I can see that as a TL, priority should be given to the leadership, teacher and curriculum involvement (as outlined in the statement on information literacy from Catholic Education South Australia, 2002). However, my issue with this is that there is noone else to cover the manager, services and literature promotion side of things in the library. Parent volunteers can help to some extent with the management of the online catalogue, but they cannot assume responsibility for the bulk of the work. In a small school with a limited budget, how should this be addressed?
Back to the idea of Mental Models – I hope that the presentation that I will give on Monday will challenge their mental models and that they will feel compelled to let their perceptions of the role of the TL evolve so that we can make progress as an ILSC.

Posted in Teacher Librarian | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Some light entertainment!

Posted by sarahelliott on April 28, 2009


This clip made me chuckle!

Posted in Teacher Librarian | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

And breathe…

Posted by sarahelliott on April 28, 2009

Wow! So, I’m happy to report that I managed to submit my first assignment successfully. When I first read through the assessment task and assessment criteria, I felt quite confident that I would be able to write it well, as I was full of ideas, inspired by all the reading that I’ve done. However, in reality, I found it much harder to write than I had imagined. I’m not sure if that’s because it was a hard subject matter, or because I’m out of practice writing academic papers, or if it’s linked to the fact that I’ve had 2 children in under 2 years and my brain hasn’t yet recovered and returned to its previous capabilities!!!

I learned a lot from this assessment task in terms of content, but also in terms of applying that content. That is to say that I felt like I was really practising the information process out for myself: thinking about the information that I needed to find, locating it, evaluating it and then using it and communicating it in my work. I really tried to develop a true understanding of the role of the TL in an ILSC and feel. As a result, I’m now working on a presentation that I will give to the principal and admin’ team on that role in an attempt to develop one shared view of my position in school for us all. This is basically what I wrote about in my assignment and I’m glad that I’m actually going to put it into practice.

I’m not used to having to make presentations and I don’t especially like being the one in the spotlight, but I am excited about sharing my ideas and understanding with others. I hope that this will result in us working together to develop a role statement for me in school and in me being allowed to concentrate on the leader, collaborator and educator side to my role – rather than the traditional manager (in terms of cataloguing books) part.

This doesn’t mean that I wish to surrender the idea of promoting literature and a love of reading. I’ve just run the book club in school for the second time ever and I’m receiving positive support on this from the parents. Also, I’m investigating setting up subscription to an online reading quiz for our students. In a previous school where I worked, we used Accelerated reader, but I think that our budget won’t stretch to that. So, I’m looking into If anyone knows of any other alternatives that we might be interested, please let me know! I’ve enrolled a couple of volunteers from school so that they can trial the bookadventure for me. I hope that they will help me assess whether it will be something that will be sufficient for the rest of the students in school.

Posted in Teacher Librarian | 1 Comment »

Fresh idea and thinking in response to literature.

Posted by sarahelliott on March 30, 2009

Feeling inspired by all the reading that I have done (yes I think it’s paying off!) on ILSCs and the role of the TL, I think it’s time that I tried to become a ‘catalyst for change’ in our school!
If ,in order to be a successful ILSC, the whole school community must be the focus of the learning process, then the staff too should be actively involved in building upon their knowledge and skills. Through my new understanding of the role of the TL, I am looking to how I can show leadership and initiative by encouraging the development of an ILSC in our school.
I have decided to try to introduce the idea of sharing knowledge better within our faculty.
How? By developing a system for sharing video clips, podcasts and potentially articles with each other. My initial idea was to somehow create a space on our virtual learning environment where people could post these PD resources. The reasoning for this was that everytime staff log on to our VLE they are immediately told of new items that have been added since their last visit. This way, they would hopefully click on the link and be presented with the relevant resource. However, I’m not convinced that our VLE is totally suitable for this purpose. Therefore, I am considering developing a wikispace. Another staff member also supports this suggestion, as it would enable us to create different pages for different curriculum areas and pedagogical ideas. My vision is to have an organised area where people can post items and where we can discuss our ideas and thoughts on them. I particularly like the idea of posting video and audio clips, as they are so accessible and don’t require the same intense level of concentration as reading an article.
The problem? How to get the staff to keep checking the wikispace? I am wondering if it’s possible to set up some sort of live link to the VLE to alert staff when new resources are posted… Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated – share information with me and help me become better informed!
Of course, I’ve never set up a wikispace before, but I’m taking confidence from the fact that I’ve succeeded in creating a blog. There ain’t no stopping me now!

Posted in Information Literacy, Topic 2 | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Information Literate School Community

Posted by sarahelliott on March 24, 2009

In Henri’s chapter on the information literate school community (ILSC), he sets out to define exactly what is meant by an ILSC. It is clear upon reading his work that an ILSC does not have to be a physical place, but is an idea and a philosophy that a school should aim to develop. In a successful ILSC, the whole school community (not only the students) is the focus of the learning process -learning how to be informed. It is especially important to recognise the need for all teachers to become masters of being informed, as they are to act as role models for the students in the school.

The sharing of information and knowledge with our peers can help us all better our own knowledge and skills. Issues that are linked to an ILSC should be addressed in staff meetings and through professional development and in-school training. The principal of a school should act as a leader and instill in others an openness to new ideas and a desire and eagerness to learn new skills. The Teacher Librarian should also play a key role in the development of an ILSC, as they should help facilitate collaboration and implement professional development programmes that will assist other staff members to understand information literacy better and to provide them with strategies to integrate it into their teaching (p.25).

Henri sees the Teacher Librarian as a leader for change within a school. Somebody who other teachers will look to for help with implementing what they have learned, for expertise on issues such as copyright and plagiarism, for knowledge on latest technologies and resources. In my experience, teacher librarians have never had such an important role within a school. They have not necessarily been viewed as having the same authority as teachers and too often, teachers have not made use of the expertise that a TL has to offer. In modern times, the TL is becoming more of an expert (not just in terms of knowing different resources that are available) and more of a curriculum leader in school. They are taking on new responsibilities that will raise their status within the school community. I hope that the school community is ready for this change and are happy to collaborate with the TL and share knowledge and skills together.

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Teacher Librarian first thoughts…

Posted by sarahelliott on March 5, 2009


In order to be able to properly assess how my understanding of the role of a teacher-librarian has changed throughout this module, I have created this initial concept-map. The list of resources, admin jobs etc is not exhaustive, but reflects the general ideas that I associate with this role in school. I intend to add to this concept map as I progress through this module, editing my initial thoughts and adding to them as I learn more about the job that being a teacher-librarian entails.

Posted in Teacher Librarian | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Hazell Reading – Challenges in teacher librarianship

Posted by sarahelliott on March 3, 2009

Key concerns in the 80s were:

  • ‘Social justice’ meant that the division of school budgets had to change to support the needs of special social groups. This may have meant a smaller library budget, but also a library budget that has to fund more than before, so as to cater for the needs of different groups – ‘gender, cultural, disability and socioeconomic’.
  • ‘Resource based learning’ became more significant in schools, thus changing the importance given to school library and its resources. Teacher-librarians began to have more of an influence on development of school curriculum.
  • ‘Cooperative programme planning and teaching’ – new idea that the teacher and teacher-librarian should work together to develop resource based units of work.
  • ‘Teaching of information skills’ – new ideas that were to be taught to create information literate students who would be able to survive in an information society.
  • ‘Policy statements’ – guidelines to promote role of teacher librarian in learning process.

In relation to the above:

  • What was the role of the teacher-librarian? Important for this to be clearly determined for both TLs and their administrators and colleagues.
  • Better qualified teacher-librarians needed in schools.
  • Better teacher education needed on how to select appropriate materials and how to teach information skills.
  • Money needed to help replace out-of-date resources.
  • Up-to-date standard were needed that reflected the changes in education in that decade.
  • Statistics about school libraries were needed to support requests for better resources, better training and revised standards etc.

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Learning from History (Lundin)

Posted by sarahelliott on February 26, 2009

In the 1960s in Australia, government funds were made available to allow for establishing school libraries. This development was linked to the outcomes of the Fenwick Report in 1964. Standards for school libraries were created and money was provided for pilot libraries and training of staff.

However, initially all the funding went into Secondary Schools – why? Was it because they are larger schools than primary schools and so it was as if the money was seen as going further as it was being invested in a larger number of students?… Was it because secondary school children are at an age where they are seen as being able to make greater use of resources? …The libraries were monitored and evaluated and deemed to be a success, as they helped promote a different learning style and supported more personalised learning with students becoming more responsible for their own learning.

However, this meant that when the money started to run out, the primary schools had not benefited from it on an equal level with secondary schools. They were behind in their development of school libraries and were sometimes considered too small to have a school library. 


  • The money had not always been spent wisely, as schools felt under pressure to spend it without having the necessary knowledge to know what to spend it on. It was spent too quickly and too inefficiently.
  • There was still a lack of qualified staff.
  • Buildings were not always well designed.
  • Equipment was poorly selected.

Although Australian school libraries in the 1960s were far from perfect, what strikes me is how advanced they seem to be compared to school libraries where I am currently living. I wonder, what government support  is there for training programmes for teacher librarians in Norway or indeed in the UK? Are there any local advisers who can assist teacher librarians in their role? What standards exist here for TLs? What policies may already be in practice?

We can learn from history. Governments can learn to be better advised and better prepared when implementing new plans. We personally can learn – what is important when setting up a school library, how can we create the best library learning space possible?

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Thoughts based on Clyde

Posted by sarahelliott on February 25, 2009

What have I learned from this article?
School libraries in Australia  go back further than I would have imagined, as Clyde states there is evidence of their existence from the beginning of the C19. The beginnings of school libraries lie in Sunday schools, who provided books that were initially geared towards general education (as well as religious texts) for people of all ages, as Sunday schools took on the responsibility of teaching literacy to members of society who had missed out on a ‘normal’ education. In a short time, this changed, as they began to focus far more on religious instruction.
Libraries in ‘ordinary’ schools came first to parochial schools and then to national schools, these included fiction, non-fiction and religious resources. The need for a school library was born from the desire to offer students more than standard class readers, to instill in them the idea of reading for pleasure, associating reading with more than just the classroom. Reading was a desirable habit to develop – the emphasis being on its moral influence on children, it was seen as a means to promote the good of the community and enrich lives of citizens and to promote lifelong self-education. (p. 15)
Issues encountered were:
  • Cataloguing and the organisation of resources – often they were poorly organised and not particularly well looked after.
  • Funds – money would be raised by community effort and activity, some examples were concerts, picnics and other entertainments. (p. 14)
  • Staffing – libraries were often maintained by teachers and pupils in their spare time.
  • Location – where should the school library be located? Should the lack of a specific room limit its creation and growth?
  • Support – the use of inspectors ensured that more school libraries were established and their growth was promoted.
What struck me when reading this article was how in some cases how little has changed and how little we have moved on from the 1820s and 1830s! I am working in a school where we have encountered all of the above issues! Fortunately the issue of organisation is being more easily resolved thanks to a digital cataloguing programme! However, we are still faced with the issues of funds, location, staffing and support.
I am yet to read on and discover more about the role and the importance of school libraries in Australia in the present day. But, from my own experience, I wonder whether on a more global scale we have recognised the importance of the school library? How do we ensure that school libraries are supported? What standards do we need to have in place to promote their growth and development? What resources can we draw on to support arguments for better funds, staffing, location of a school library?
We have of course moved on from the 19th Century in as much as the library no longer contains just a few hundred books. The resources that will be found in the library are more varied than ever, the potential of the library as a resource centre is greater than ever. In the 1870s, school libraries were of great importance to small towns in the Australian bush, as they were frequently the only source of reading materials (p. 14). In the same way, in international schools, the school library may be the only large source in the community of resources in a variety of languages. The school library could and in my opinion should be the focal centre of the whole school community…  But how can this be achieved when we are faced with issues that existed nearly 200 years ago and continue to exist today?

Posted in History of School Libraries | 28 Comments »