Posted by: eheino | September 30, 2013

ETL504 Critical Reflection

To be completely honest, before I began this subject I had never thought of teacher-librarianship in terms of becoming part of the leadership team of a school. I did appreciate that the teacher-librarian had an important role to play in the school in terms of guided inquiry (Heino, 2013a) but, even so, it hadn’t occurred to me that by becoming the expert on inquiry learning, I would be becoming a leader.

At the end of week 1, the prospect of taking on a leadership position in a school scared me, as I didn’t see myself as a leader (Heino, 2013b). This was partly due to my experience of leaders in the past. My bosses in previous jobs have been transactional leaders (Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005), giving directions to their employees and expecting them to be followed, without much room for discussion. They often ruled by intimidation, and the staff didn’t respect them. I couldn’t (and still can’t) imagine leading like this, and fortunately I don’t have to.

The readings this semester have enabled me to decide what kind of leader I would like to become, and for me that is a mixture of two main leadership styles: transformational and sustainable leadership. Both of these leadership styles emphasise the creation of an atmosphere where all staff feel comfortable to voice their opinion and know it will be heard and considered (Leithwood, 1994; Hargreaves, 2005). These leaders also create a positive vision for the school that everyone can get behind and work towards achieving. I enjoy working in such an atmosphere, and would endeavour to create it when I am in a leadership position. I believe that an excellent school leader not only initiates change and articulates a vision for the school; they also create a cohesive, collaborative school atmosphere, which both supports the process of change and generates a dynamic school culture.

So where does the teacher-librarian fit into this picture of school leadership? As I articulated in my blog earlier this semester, teacher-librarians that establish small collaborative teams on this foundation strengthen the bonds of trust and collegiality as well as heighten the opportunities for inter-group learning (Heino 2013c). But it is more than that. The only constant within leadership is change, and the teacher-librarian plays a key role in continuing to make positive changes in the school, particularly at the moment as libraries transform into information gateways or ‘iCentres’ (Hay, 2010). Many teachers are resistant to change, and it is part of the teacher-librarian’s job to make the transition to the new curriculum and an inquiry learning focus as smooth as possible. This was another area of leadership I found daunting, Bender’s (2005) article gave me the tools I needed to feel confident in my ability to communicate these changes to staff. It is all about effective communication, making my message clear, keeping lines of communication open, speaking in a clear and direct manner, and avoiding easily misinterpreted body language. Having these issues clearly explained gave me the ability to avoid them in the future, and gave me the confidence to create trusting relationships with staff.

The second assignment articulated to me why it is an exciting time to be becoming a teacher-librarian. The assignment asked me to create a vision for my ideal school library, and create a strategic document explaining how it would come to fruition. Right now there are so many changes occurring in education, particularly due to the introduction of the new national curriculum, which has been designed to address the way students will be expected to deal with information in their workplaces (ACARA, 2013) and the teacher-librarian and their library is right at the centre of these changes. The library, more than any other part of the school, needs to change to reflect the expectations of the twenty-first century, and only the teacher-librarian can lead these changes. Now is the time for the teacher-librarian to innovate, and communicate these innovations in a clear and effective manner to the principal and staff, to get them excited and inspired about the future of education.

This subject, more than any other, has changed my perspective on the role of the teacher-librarian within a school. Not only do they lead inquiry learning projects, they are also part of the greater leadership team, leading change in their school for the twenty-first century. I am no longer afraid of taking on this role. I am excited to be able to bring my vision to change a twentieth-century library into a twenty-first century information gateway! I can do this, and I’m ready!

Reference List:

ACARA, (2013). The shape of the Australian curriculum. In Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority. Retrieved from: http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/The_Shape_of_the_Australian_Curriculum_v4.pdf

Bender, Y. (2005). Building effective communication. The tactful teacher effective communication with parents, colleagues, and administrators (pp. 3-18). White River Junction, VT: Nomad Press.

Hargreaves, A. (2007). Sustainable leadership and development in education: Creating the future, conserving the past. European Journal of Education, 42(2), 223-233

Hay, L. (2010). Experience the “shift”: Build an i-Centre. Teacher Librarian, 39(5), 29-35.

Heino, E (2013a)  ETL401 assessment 2 part b: Critical reflection. In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://eheino.wordpress.com/

Heino, E. (2013b)  What is leadership?. In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://eheino.wordpress.com/

Heino, E. (2013c) ETL504 assignment 1 blog post: My thoughts on leadership thus far. In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://eheino.wordpress.com/

Leithwood, K. (1994). Leadership for school restructuring. Educational Administration Quarterly, 30(4), 498-518. DOI: 10.1177/0013161X94030004006

Marzano, R., Waters, T. & McNulty, B. (2005). School leadership that works: From research to results. Moorabbin, Victoria: Hawker Brownlow Education.

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