Leadership for Learning
I believe that teacher and student learning are intertwined. Teachers need to be continually learning so that a positive learning environment is created for students. I am experiencing this as I participate in this course. It is also important to be reflective. If there is collaboration there will be gains in confidence, motivation and morale. This leads to quality learning and successful leadership. (O’Donoghue & Clarke, 2010).
The Teacher Librarian as leader would promote a collaborative learning environment that is not confined to the classroom. Often the library is seen as separate to faculty departments.
As a result, there is not a lot of collaboration occurring at my school at present. Teachers tend to lecture students, the focus is on delivering content and everyone is ‘time-poor’. The concept of learning as a process, must be a shared vision, from the top down (including the students) and be explicitly written into programs.
The Inquiry Learning concept is an excellent example of instructional leadership for learning and the Teacher Librarian needs to be proactive to achieve success. Inquiry Learning has not been a priority for our Curriculum Coordinator due the enormity of the task if introduced across the whole school. Also, our school has been slow with integrating technology into its educational pedagogy.
With the introduction of the Australian Curriculum, it is an opportune time to commence Inquiry Learning. Next year, our Primary will be embarking on this type of learning. A working party from the Secondary school will start work on how best to continue this type of learning into Year 7 and beyond. I will definitely be a part of this group, as well the Primary initiative.
As a leader in a collaborative school environment, it is important to communicate collaboratively. Being open to the ideas of others and knowing how best to deliver information is vital to maintaining positive relationships. (Sampson, n.d.) refers to habits of a collaborative individual as ‘knowing when to talk interactively’. At my school, emails are constant. Relationships are breaking down as messages are misconstrued, ignored or trivialized. Effective communication occurs when there is accurate information, complete understanding and people feel that they have had an opportunity to contribute to decisions and therefore want to be part of a process. Communication can be informal or formal, but must be delivered appropriately, empathetically and be open to clarification if required.
As Teacher Librarian, I see communication as not only informing people of what is happening, but also a way of promoting the library service as an integral part of the school community. I currently deliver information in the following ways: e-newsletters to staff, emails, weekly newsletters to parents, annual Yearbook article, conduct professional learning groups, blogs, student notices and digital display messages.
This unit highlights the importance of effective communication as a leader and emphasizes less effective styles of communication, many of which I have experienced.
My personal conflict management style, according to the Thomas & Kilmann, 1974 questionnaire is ‘accommodating’ and needs more assertiveness. In my defense I feel that a Teacher Librarian needs to be accommodating. My ‘pet-hate’ is to hear about librarians that have a sense of ownership and control over their libraries and everyone must fit in or they’re not welcome. I go out of my way to satisfy clients. At times I do need to balance the ‘accommodating’ with other priorities and be more assertive if the requests are unreasonable. My library vision states; “the library ….promotes a welcoming atmosphere which is student and staff focused….”
‘Instructional leaders exhibit a clear sense of direction for their schools and prioritize and focus attention on the things that really matter in terms of the work of students’(e-Lead, n.d.). They have the ability to predict what changes are required to improve services and anticipate and overcome obstacles as they arise.
Teacher Librarians need to demonstrate that they are visionary, but often they are too busy dealing with the ‘here and now’ and find it hard to plan for the future. It is in our best interest to be strategic, as it will ‘help maintain current levels of library service’ and ‘secure support from library stakeholders’.(Wong, 2012) Collecting evidence-based data can be difficult in the library situation, but is not impossible and is essential to support strategic planning.
The library also needs to be seen as integral to the whole school. Incorporating the library vision into the school’s policy on learning is crucial. This way, the library vision is achieved as the whole school works together to make the vision a reality.
Instructional leadership [e Lead]. (n.d.). Retrieved from
O’Donoghue, T.A. & Clarke, S. (2010). Teachers learning and teachers leading. In
T.A. O’Donoghue & S. Clarke. Leading learning: process, themes and issues in
international contexts (pp.87-99). Retrieved from EBook Library.
Sampson, M. (n.d.). The Practice of Collaboration – Resource Center. In Michael
Sampson on Making Collaboration Work: Culture, Governance,
Adoption. Retrieved from http://www.michaelsampson.net/practiceofcollaboration.html
Thomas, K.W. & Kilmann, R.H. (1974). The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode
Instrument. Retrieved from http://academic.engr.arizona.edu/vjohnson/ConflictManagementQuestionnaire/ConflictManagementQuestionnaire.asp
Wong, T. (2012). Strategic long-range planning. (for school library media centers). Library Media Connection, 31(2), 22-24.