Sarah Elliott’s Blog

Travel with me on my voyage of learning and discovery…

Posts Tagged ‘Role of TL’

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 »

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 »