My thoughts on evidence gathering and my role as a pro-active researcher and advocate –hmmmm?- first initial thought? – It sounds like lots of work! (I know that’s not the type of attitude to have, I think it’s stemming from the end of week 9 blues!).
According to Todd (2007) “The hallmark of a twenty first century school library will be actions that show that it makes a real difference to student learning” (p62). The reasoning behind evidence gathering is highlighted through the readings this week, and through other Masters students experiences shared on the forum also. Through this, it becomes clear that school teacher librarians are having to prove their worth in order to keep their jobs. Reading this, and thinking back to a school I previously taught in where the teacher librarian did lose her job due to cost cutting, it did concern me a little and to be honest, had me thinking whether I was doing the right thing by doing this course. I questioned whether I want to spend my future career trying to prove that my position should exist. It makes me question whether I should stick with my art teaching – at least then, my worth is there, physically, for all to see in the form of a student’s beautiful artwork!
In terms of research and advocating, the benefits are benefits for our students. All the research suggests links between student achievement and a well run library. However, how do we create a well run library? – with research on what works, why it works and considering why it should continue or why it should be changed.
Oberg (2002) states that collecting evidence to show school libraries make a difference is part of the Teacher Librarian’s professional role and that they need to be working on two areas – 1) knowing and communicating research that relates to the library role and, 2) generate their own research – as research closer to home may be more likely considered to be more trustworthy. This is really simple commonsense for if one is to show a professional awareness of the goings on of their line of work, it is only going to heighten the respect they have from others. Advocating is the next step – showing you truly believe in the role you are undertaking and the benefits you are having on the students may just rub off on others. However, you will always have more power with your advocacy, if you have the proof to back it up. This will be in the evidence and how the students are actually benefitting from the library and its services, and this evidence needs to be physically shown to others so that it is known about. This is vital – how to physically show the school community that the TL and the school library is vital to students learning. It is here that Evidence Based Practice and Oberg’s second point for a TL (generate own research) shows its importance.
On a closing note, I love Hay’s (2006) referral to the library as a ‘learning laboratory’; not only is it fantastic alliteration, but it does sum up the changes to the library environment, especially in regards to ICT! It draws me to consider whether we need to change what we call a library in order to change other’s perceptions regarding its role and its importance?
Oberg, D. (2002). Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement?, School Libraries in Canada, 22(2), 10-14.
Hay, L. (2006). School libraries as flexible and dynamic learning laboratories? That’s what Aussie kids want. Scan, 25(2), 18.27.
Todd, R. J. (2007). Evidence-based practice and school libraries. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. H. Harada (Eds.), School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57-78). Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited, available through CSU Library eReserve