The role I see myself fulfilling in a school as a TL is based purely on the readings and what I would like to see myself doing within this type of role, as I am yet to have any experience in this area. I understand the role would be extremely diverse and dependent upon the type of school that I would be employed. The role would encompass the management and teaching of much information (whether that information be in a written form, fiction or factual; whether it be digital sources). Haycock (2007) writes that Individuals must be knowledgeable about the curriculum, the library collection, and instructional design and delivery; be welcoming to classroom teachers and use good interpersonal skills; and be committed to information literacy instruction. I would like to be able to offer these skills to the school community. In particular (and probably due to my own childhood experiences with grumpy librarians) I would see my role as offering a welcoming and enjoyable environment to all members of the school community. A role that incorporates collaboration with all parties in order to achieve the learning objectives of the students within our care.
Within your experience, how do principals perceive the role of the TL?
I haven’t had any direct experiences relating to how principals perceive the role of the TL. From the readings it is obvious that principal support has a correlation to how successful the school library program will be. In the schools that I have worked within, the school librarian is always a member of staff with great importance, stature and is always well respected by the school community. The TL is often a member of the schools leadership team and I have only seen examples of support in terms of the principals of these schools and the TL. Haycock (2007) states that “principal support is vital” and I would have to agree with this statement. I do not know how a school would function if the TL did not have full support of the school’s principal. However, I can appreciate how this may occur. The research findings listed in Oberg (2006), page 13, suggest that many principals did not support teacher librarians due to a “lack of knowledge about the management and function of school libraries”. Oberg continues to discuss reasons for this which include TL stereotypes, TL’s low profile in educational literature and the limited exposure a principal has had with successful TLs when they were teachers or at school themselves.
What can you do? ie. suggest 2 strategies to change perceptions?
From the readings I have gathered that the ‘invisibility’ of the school’s TL can be problematic in regards to how the TL is viewed by the school community and in turn, how they are supported by the school’s principal. Therefore, I think one way of becoming ‘visible’ is as Oberg suggests “thinking about the library as being within the school, visible throughout the school, and integral to the mission and work of the school”(2007,pg i) – this may include being visibly seen as working towards the same objectives as the classroom teachers – eg. Linking displays, talks and resources to classroom teachers programs (& not just when asked to).
Another way to change perceptions that I have gathered from the readings is definitely collaboration. Collaboration has benefits for all members of the team – teachers, teacher-librarian, administration – as well as for the students (Haycock, 2007, pg25). Collaboration with the principal is needed to develop a strong school library program (Oberg, 2008, pg16).
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.
Oberg, D. (2007).Taking the library out of the library into the school. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(2), i-ii.