During my studies, I have developed a comprehensive understanding of many key ideas and concepts, skills and attributes associated with teacher librarianship.
This section provides a critical evaluation of learning during my studies focusing on four themes:
1. The role of the Teacher Librarian within the school community
2. Importance of online technologies towards effective teaching and learning in the classroom.
3. Development of Information Literacy Skills.
4. Importance of collection management policies in effective management of the school library
3.1 - The role of the Teacher Librarian within the school community Edit
Amuso (2010, July 31) demonstrated no understanding of the role of the teacher librarian (TL) in the wider school community. The TL was responsible for only provision of library services. This understanding changed rapidly as Amuso, (2010, August 24; August 31 & October 4) demonstrates. The provision of library services was just one of several roles a TL assumed in the wider school community. Amuso, (2010, October 4) highlights the significant role of the TL assume in the wider school community including: effective management of library and information services, leader in education, emphasise lifelong learning, collaboration with teaching staff and the wider school community to provide quality teaching and learning experiences.
I felt that two documents significantly shaped my understanding of the role of TL within the school community.
The first document (ALIA & ASLA, 2004) outlines the significant role of the TL within the school community focusing on three interrelated areas: Professional Knowledge, Professional Practice and Professional Commitment. Professional commitment requires not to just participate in school life but also to model the sharing of knowledge. This includes advocacy of a lifelong learning culture (including ICT skills). Achieving this requires excellent application of professional knowledge (knowledge of education theory, pedagogy and practice) and professional practice (providing quality teaching and learning experiences etc). Leadership is another crucial element in the standards. TL's act as leaders within the school setting through collaboration with colleagues and active participation in school leadership.
The second document (ALIA & ASLA, 2004b) developed my understanding through their focus on responsibilities and attributes required for effective engagement within the profession. While presented for those seeking general careers in information management, they are consistent with the TL's role including: connecting people with the world of information and interacting with knowledge to serve their information needs along with creation of effective information management systems. As TL, I am a specialist in information management unlike classroom teachers. Therefore I assume a significant role in the school community by advocating a lifelong learning culture through development of Information Literacy Skills (ILS) but also providing information services to support the teaching and learning programs of the school.
Additional reading provided insights into the leadership attributes demonstrated by TL's in their role as members of a school community. Lievens, Van Geil, & Coetsier (1997), Langford, (1999), Hargreaves & Fink, (2003) and Davies & Davies, (2005) emphasised that without effective leadership, I cannot assume a significant role in the school community. I must be proactive and engaging in my role.
Professional experience in later stages of my studies reinforced my understanding of the TL's role within the school Community. Amuso, (2012, June 11 & September 17) identifies roles that I engaged as a TL including: application of professional knowledge, professional practice and commitment to the school community.
Examining the above, they clearly demonstrated my understanding of the significant role of TL's in the school community including provision of: library and information services, information management systems , quality teaching and learning experiences (including ICT skills) and functioning as active members of the school community.
3.2 - Importance of online technologies towards effective teaching and learning in the classroom Edit
As a recently graduated secondary school teacher, I entered this course lacking understanding in this area. I virtually had no training in ICT in my undergraduate studies (Hay, 2011, September 14). Despite this, I developed a good understanding of the high importance of online technologies towards effective teaching and learning in the classroom. This was due to personal interest and initiative and this stimulated my learning.
My understanding was initially shaped via understanding of my responsibilities as a TL in providing quality teaching and learning experiences including the use of ICT's (online technology included). As mentioned (Section 3.1), I am bound to include the teaching of ICT's to provide effective teaching and learning. This includes the use of online technologies to provide quality teaching and learning experiences.
Once the responsibilities as TL was identified, I developed a good understanding of the significance of online technologies towards effective teaching and learning in the classroom. The creation of virtual learning environments (VLE's) provides greater scope for quality teaching and learning than ever before. Duffy, Bruns, & Axel, (2006) and Parker & Chao, (2007) were useful in demonstrating how online technologies' are used in facilitating collaborative finding, shaping and knowledge in the learning process and how it allows students to develop ILS by collecting, analysing and communicating information and engage students in meaningful learning. Most importantly, Wayne State University (2011) led me to realise that online technologies have eliminated constraints on where and when learning can occur. Learning does not need to occur in physical settings.
Despite numerous benefits of online technologies towards effective teaching and learning I was challenged significantly by Hendrick, (2009) illustrating reluctance by schools to embrace online technologies due to threats to student welfare such as the use of Social Networking Sites. Like other educators, I had expressed similar perceptions. This was despite overwhelming evidence identifying possible benefits of SNS' Borja,(2006), University of Minnesota (2008), Weaver,( 2010) & Inderscience Publishers, (2011) demonstrated that SNS's are useful towards student learning providing guidelines are set relating to their use. Given the findings and perceptions by schools, I realised that I will be challenged in persuading schools to further embrace online technologies. Also I had changed my perceptions over SNS'. I am happy to consider it as a tool for learning.
Finally, professional experience provided me with practical insights in the application of online technologies towards effective teaching and learning particularly VLE's such as Moodle and Haiku. I also was able to consider elements of online technologies in effective teaching and learning such as selecting suitable resources from the internet in the creation of resource lists. However I did not obtain adequate opportunities to apply my theoretical understanding of online technologies towards quality teaching and learning.
Hence through my studies, I now accept that the use of online technologies contributes signficiantly towards effective teaching and learning, particularly as they provide greater opportunities for effective learning. To exclude online technologies would restrict opportunities for effective teaching and learning in the classroom.
3.3 - Development of Information Literacy Skills Edit
I commenced studies unaware of "information literacy" and "information literacy skills"(ILS). Through my studies, I developed solid understandings of both concepts and their importance to academic achievement in schools. Eisebenberg, (2008) and Neary, (2008) provided simple definitions of information literacy focusing on recognition and satisfaction of an information need. Understanding "information literacy" within the readings developed my understanding of "ILS" referring to skills that one requires to be information literate including: locating, evaluating and applying information.
Skrzeczynski, (1999) and Herring (2005) provided useful insights into the TL's role in development of ILS. As they are highly qualified to teach ILS, TL's assume a significant role in development and implementation of ILS in teaching and learning programmes. As Hay, Henri, & Oberg, (1999) & Hartzell, (2003) showed, TL's also collaborate with teaching staff, professional and parent bodies to ensure development of ILS in the classroom. Herring (2007) demonstrated that effective collaboration results in development of ILS amongst students while Henri (2005) and Todd, (2008) identify possible consequences that could stem from poor collaboration and the adverse impact on student learning.
As an educator, I am bound to adhere to curriculum requirements on development of ILS as set by educational boards. Viewing documents such as NSW Department of Education and Training (2007) allowed familiarity and understanding with requirements for teaching ILS in the curriculum. As a result, I valued the importance of ILS towards student learning and achievement. Students must be provided with opportunities to develop ILS in all aspects of the curriculum. I responded through teaching ILS in professional practice, providing opportunities for students to develop ILS (Appendix One; Amuso, 2012, April 22 & September 17)
I learnt that the TL contributes significantly towards the creation of an information literate school community (ILSC). Henri, (2005) identified features that constitute a ILSC including: significant priority in turning information into knowledge and vice versa, desire to search for meaning and application of knowledge, managing information and emphasis on ILS in all teaching and learning programmes provided by the school. Langford (1999), Spence (2003) and O'Brien & Wisbey, (2008) provided useful and practical strategies to aid the creation of an ISLC. A common theme emphasised proactive engagement in the school community such as: seeking support from the school principal on initiatives to foster ILS and information services at the school, participation in ICT programmes provided by the school, collaboration with teaching staff in incorporating ILS into teaching and learning programmes of the school, and self reflection. This impact cannot be measured as I have not applied strategies in my practice at this stage of my career apart from active participation in school activities (Amuso, 2012, June 11).
While I still find the concept difficult to as it is both a working model and concept, I realise that without creation of ILSC, students will be unable to apply the ILS that they need for lifelong learning. Without emphasis on ISLC, students will find it increasingly difficult to manage the information presented to them in the classroom, reducing opportunities for academic achievement.
3.4 - Importance of collection management policies in effective management of the school library Edit
"Collection Management" was an unknown concept prior to commencing studies. Through my learning, I learnt that effective management of a school library is underpinned through an effective collection management policy hence their importance. My understanding was shaped by readings that emphaised key aspects of effective collection management including:
• "e-resources: a taster of possiblities and issues", (2010) emphasised that relevant, engaging resourcing is required for authentic teaching and learning support in the complex digital environment. A collection management policy allows for development of a diverse collection including accommodation of digital and electronic resources, which are highly sought after in modern schools.
• Horava, (2010) stated that collection practices must incorporate resources that are contemporary, relevant and adds value to the learning experience. Without relevant resources, academic achievement is compromised.
• Kennedy, (2005), Lorenzo, (2007) & Johnson, (2010) highlighted the provision of digital and electronic resources in library collections given their interest by clients. Also, those findings reinforced a common requirement for educators – tailor learning to student interests and needs.
• Beare, Caldwell, & Millikan, (1990), Langford, (1999), Sergiovanni, (2000) suggested that effective collection management policies can involve input from stakeholders as they do hold a common objective - commitment towards supporting teaching and learning programs of the school. This could include library staff, library committees, teaching staff, school executive and wider school community.
• Gorman & Kennedy, (1992), Kennedy (2006), Clayton, (2010) provided me with strategies to evaluate a library collection effectively including: collection centred methods and client centred methods. Without a system, a balanced collection cannot be provided (Tenenbaum, 2005).
• Gorman & Miller, (2000); Dillon, (2001); Georges Hall Public School, (2006), Kennedy, (2006), Goulburn Valley Grammar School, (2007) & Deakin University, (2011) helped me understand the importance of weeding to a library collection given initial disagreement (Amuso, 2011, March 9). After applying my understandings in professional practice (Amuso, 2012, June 11), I realised that it does improve management of the collection.
Effective Cataloguing is also important towards effective collection management. Library collections contain items in various (including electronic) formats. As Adamich, (2008), Kiorgaard, (2009) & Kirkland, (2010) showed effective cataloguing systems such as Resource Development Access focus on clients as it is them and not the cataloguer that will access the items via the library OPAC. Users are able distinguish the relationships between resources. They can find, locate, select and obtain items relevant to teaching and learning more effectively. Using tools such as the SCIS & Webdewey allowed me to correctly catalogue items in the collection according to their topic/s and potential use in learning. This means that I can maintain a collection that allows clients in the school library to locate and access items effectively.
Professional Experience during the past year allowed me to observe and identify appropriate collection management practices in practical settings.
• Responses by school libraries to emerging formats such as e-books. Some libraries have responded, others have not (Appendix Two & Amuso, 2012, May 14). Schools that have responded now include in their collections digital resources such as e-books and databases.
• The provision to include physical objects in the library collection (Appendix Two & Amuso, 2012 May 14) to assist student learning.
Also through professional experience, I developed greater confidence towards creation of effective collection management policies including: maintaining records, weeding items from the collection and assisting in selection and acquisition of resources (Amuso, 2012, June 12 & September 17).