Becoming An Effective Teacher Librarian

Studying the Master of Education degree through Charles Sturt University has set me on the path to becoming an effective Teacher Librarian (TL). The ALIA and ASLA (2004) standards outline the professional knowledge, practice and commitment required of excellent TLs. These standards provide goals that TLs should aspire to in order to achieve professional excellence. It is through utilising these standards that I will evaluate how my learning will help me to become an effective TL.

Professional Knowledge

Information literacy (IL) and lifelong learning are important aspects of the standards for professional knowledge. It is essential for students to develop IL skills that enable them to find, understand, evaluate, use, organise, create and present information in a variety of formats. The master’s degree allowed me to examine various aspects of IL theory and practice. This enabled me to learn that it is through understanding and implementing tools and pedagogies such as information skills models, guided inquiry and resource-based learning that students can be immersed in meaningful learning experiences that develop IL skills that help students become lifelong learners.

Another area of importance is the role of ICTs in lifelong learning. Due to the influence technology has had on education ICTs have become a major element in teacher librarianship. Undertaking this degree enabled me to see that the development of IL skills and other literacies such as critical, visual, digital and multimodal literacy can be facilitated by using ICTs. By effectively incorporating ICTs as tools in learner-centred education I can facilitate students’ acquisition of these various literacies which are essential to lifelong learning.

TLs must have knowledge of the curriculum and learner needs. Readings and tasks throughout the master’s degree enabled me to understand the importance of developing knowledge in these areas as it enables school library programs and resources to cater to specific school community needs. Collaborating with teachers was highlighted as an excellent way to help develop a TLs understanding in these areas. With the introduction of the new national curriculum I will need to work toward becoming familiar with the new curriculum so that I can effectively support teaching and learning.

Readings throughout the degree demonstrated the link between an effective school library and school community achievement. Continued professional development that enables me to keep up with developments in technology, pedagogy and the curriculum will help me to ensure that I'm able to demonstrate that the school library positively   impacts achievement.                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                           Students and Laptops by Enokson available under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Professional Practice

Collaboration is an important aspect of TL professional practice.  It enables TLs to work with others to link IL and ICTs to the curriculum and provide resources and programs that respond to student needs. Collaborative practices were embedded throughout all subjects, in particular participation in school committees, collaborative planning and teaching and professional development. Throughout the master’s degree I have been able to develop knowledge and skills relating to IL, ICTs, resource-based learning, guided inquiry, literary learning and collaboration. Through utilising the knowledge and skills I have acquired I can collaborate with teachers to develop units that link IL, ICTs and literature to the curriculum. In doing this I can help to enhance student learning and help promote and foster students’ development of skills required for lifelong learning.

Evaluation is another key aspect of professional practice. It is highly important that TLs evaluate school library practices. The master’s degree enabled me to see that I can use evidence-based practices to carry out research that evaluates student learning and gathers evidence of the effectiveness of school library practices. Through utilising this understanding I can begin to evaluate professional practice, but since I'm not currently working as a TL  I will need to work on this area in order to develop my abilities. This will require me to utilise and further explore evidence-based practice and other evaluation techniques so that I can link library practices to achievement.

Library policies and procedures must implement the school’s mission. Writing a collection development policy in ETL503 enabled me experience linking policy to the school mission and allowed me to realise the importance of ensuring this occurs. Strategically planning for improvement is another important aspect of professional practice. ETL504 gave me a taste of developing a strategic plan for school library improvement which enabled me to develop basic leadership and strategic planning skills that I can further develop when I am employed as a TL, so that I may better utilise strategic planning for improvement.

Another area I will need to work on is providing reference and information services in a school library setting. These skills are hard to develop when not working as a TL so once I am working as a TL I will be able to develop these practical skills.

Professional Commitment

Lifelong learning is an important concept covered in both the master’s degree and the professional commitment standards. The dynamic nature of teacher librarianship fosters the continual development of TLs knowledge and skills. As a future TL undertaking continual professional development and reading will be extremely important to maintain professional knowledge and practice. That is why I am currently looking in to undertaking professional development opportunities offered by ALIA and ASLA so I can further develop my knowledge and abilities in relevant areas.  

The ALIA and ASLA (2004) standards encourage TLs to be leaders. Undertaking ETL401 and ETL504 made me realise that TLs are uniquely placed to act as leaders. As leaders TLs need to promote a whole school focus on IL and collaborate with others in order to provide effective transformational leadership. Utilising my understanding of the TLs role in school committees, collaborative planning and teaching, leading professional development and providing support during times of change will assist me to act as a leader in my future role as a TL. It is through working as a TL and being immersed in professional reading and leadership opportunities that I will be able to continue to develop my skills and work toward professional excellence in this area.

TLs are responsible for promoting teacher librarianship and the school library. The master’s degree enabled me to learn that through collaborating with others, sharing professional knowledge and results from evidence-based practice I can enact this promotional role. By utilising my knowledge to carry out these activities I can also promote the learning and teaching focus of the school library.                                                                                            

Actively participating as a member of professional communities is another important aspect of professional commitment. Throughout the master’s degree I have participated in professional communities via the use of forums, group work, social networking and professional networks. It is through continuing to contribute to various professional communities that I will be able to demonstrate my commitment, model knowledge sharing and demonstrate collegiality.

The master’s degree has allowed me to develop knowledge and skills that have started me on my way to professional excellence. Through continued evaluation, professional development and professional reading I will be able to develop my abilities and knowledge and work towards achieving professional excellence. 



 Lifelong Learning by Denise Krebs available under CC BY 2.0   


References

ALIA and ASLA. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.alia.org.au/sites/default/files/documents/ALIA.ASLA_.2004.TLstandards2013.05.30.JB_.pdf