(3a) Identify strategies / initiatives / support at the practitioner level

that need to be in place to ensure that school libraries and the professional role of the teacher librarian continuously help students learn and achieve.

Please use the Comments box (below) to submit your response.

 When submitting your responses, please indicate:

·         your position, and/or type of group (if a group response) e.g. principal, or teacher librarian network

·         your sector, state or place, and type of school/organisation e.g. NSW government high school


17 thoughts on “(3a) Identify strategies / initiatives / support at the practitioner level

  1. Based on responses to focus areas 1 and 2 so far, I think it is time to open our third and final area of discussion in terms of the strategies, initiatives and support required to realise our vision for a school library of the future.

    Essentially what we are exploring here is “What will it take for us to get there?”

    What leadership and local action is required of individual teacher librarians to work towards this vision?

    What leadership and regional/state/national action is required of the TL profession to work towards this vision?

    I think some comments made in response to question 2c http://schoollibraries21c.edublogs.org/group-2-questions/question2c/ may also feed this thread of discussion.

    What capacity building activities need to be implemented at the practitioner level to ensure that school libraries and the work of teacher librarians are central to student learning?

    Let’s start documenting the strategies, initiatives and support required to realise this vision.

  2. This is a response from the discussion forum at the South West Sydney Region Teacher Librarians and Library School Administration Officers’ Conference on 10 June 2009.
    I will admit to adding a few thought of my own along the way. Please accept that any inadequacy of this summary is the fault of the writer and make sure that you add your own personal response on the blog. Cheryl Barnier Fairvale High School

    3a) What strategies / initiatives / support can occur at the practioner level?
    · Teacher Librarians can begin to make some of these changes by raising their profile in the school.
    · Go to your Principal/supervisor with a ready-made solution to your problem – not just a complaint about the problem. Make it easy for your supervisor to see that there is a way to solve your problem rather than another problem for him/her to solve.
    · Join the committees at the school which have an impact on the library.
    · Blow your own trumpet – tell people in a newsletter, email to staff, at a staff meeting something that is a new initiative or anything that has worked well.

  3. I have been doing research and development work with school libraries in the UK for 25 years. In my experience one of the things preventing library development to support learning is the difficulties that many school librarians have in thinking and acting strategically rather than operationally. What do I mean by this?

    Strategic working and thinking

    • Ask fundamental questions about values, purpose, roles; create a vision
    • Prioritising is very important -leads to carefully focusing your energy; considering alternatives; not viewing any existing activities/services as sacrosanct
    • Plan to gain influence and position (e.g. which meetings? Who to consult? Who to inform? Where to be seen?). Positioning seen as vital; push boundaries; attend crucial meetings even if not invited
    • Proactive
    • Horizon scanning and foresight.
    • Work on the managing change timescale of 3-5 years to get results. Understanding how to manage change
    • Monitor and evaluate impact (plans need constant re-visiting and strategy change if not getting to expected situation)
    • Effectiveness

    Operational working and thinking

    • Ask questions about best ways to do x or y.
    • Introduce new exercises/lessons to improve students’ information literacy
    • Keep the service going successfully;
    • Incremental development of work (maintenance plus a bit)
    • Connect with individual teachers and with students
    • Work within the boundaries
    • Reactive
    • Write policies and plans but they do not necessarily drive choices and activity.
    • Short term (extends to next term/semester)
    • Monitor and evaluate processes; how much has been provided and done (business statistics) rather than what effects it has had
    • Efficiency

    Being strategic means maneuvering into a position where you are able to embed the effective practices that you have developed within wider assessment policy, curriculum development committees, new teacher induction programmes, and schemes of work – i.e. within the formal structures of the school. Strategic thinking includes consideration of such things as the different levels to operate at – often at the same time; what messages to give and to whom; the principles that will underpin any project you undertake (what you will not compramise on); and alternative roles you might play.

    I recognise that school libraries are often woefully understaffed and that it is important to act effectively as an operational manager. However in my expereince it is the strategic interventions that make a difference over the long term.

  4. from Anne Mclellan, Teacher Librarian, Kempsey West Public School
    Strategies for libraries in 21st century:
    At the practioner level, I think that the Teacher Librarian needs to raise the profile of the library by:
    – being proactive within the school, and showing leadership
    – promoting the library and the role it plays within the school
    -communicating about Library programs and events within the school and community- newsletters, staff bulletins, blogs, wikis, local paper, etc
    – communicating with other staff members and integrating Library skills with class programs
    -running training and development for staff, about technology etc
    – being seen as a leader in technology within the school
    – communicating effectively with the principal, and having a supportive principal

    Support can be provided by:
    -having time for training and development, instead of having to spend many hours learning something, which can then be taught to other staff eg use of Web 2.0 technology
    – an adequate budget so that the Library can be the hub of the school for all types of resources
    – an adequate amount of SASS time, so that teaching resources can be developed, rather than having to do clerical jobs
    – ongoing training and development about Library issues
    – time for planning with teachers
    – time to work with teachers, rather that providing RFF as at present

  5. This is a group round table response from the Northern Tablelands Teacher Librarian group. The school involved are a mixture or rural Public, Central and High schools plus a few Private schools in the area who meet every term.

    – Provide technology and the knowledge and ability to use it
    – Professional development encouraged
    – Providing resources and catering for all learning needs
    – Collaborate with the Principal
    – TL’s need to sell their skills more to the wider community, advocacy is important in maintaining a high profile with the school community
    – TL’s should lobby and work with the ‘power players’ within the school to maintain the profile of the School Library and all that it offers to staff, students and the wider community

  6. Here its important to remain current with trends etc in the profession. This can be as simple as being a member of professional bodies, including the local ones. Getting to know T/Ls in the area & forming a network to assist professional development. Attend conferences/workshops to keep knowledge & skills current. Whatever your thing is, be a member & contribute to Listserve/blogs to keep knowledge current.

    Having a workable network allows us to broaden our knowledge. It can be easy to work in isolation within our schools & for knowledge/ideas to become insular.

    Remaining in touch with the local & wider profession enables us to effectively contribute to our school’s needs.

  7. Penrith, Mt Druitt, Blacktown & Windsor Teacher Librarian Professional Learning Network ;
    Committee Focus Group

    3.What it takes to get there?
    a.Identify strategies/ initiatives / support at the practitioner level that need to be in place to ensure that school libraries and the professional role of the TL continuously help students learn and achieve.

    The teacher librarian should:
    • be fully qualified trained – have completed post graduate studies in Teacher Librarianship

    • be proactive in their leadership role, in order to facilitate change, library improvement and capacity building

    • collect, collate and analyse Evidence Based Practice Data (from students’ learning journals, SLIM toolkit surveys, Skinny surveys), in order to determine the relevant interventions needed to improve student learning outcomes

    • undertake ongoing professional development in order to be at the forefront of new teaching and learning ideas and Web 2 .0 technology (eg. attend PD courses, read professional publications, subscribe to TL listservs)

    • network with other teacher librarians

    • possess good public relations and communication skills – helps to get people “onboard”

    • develop and maintain a current Library Program, Policy and Management Plan, in consultation with the principal and other staff

    • develop a cohesive Library Team (teacher librarian(s), clerical staff, monitors, parent volunteers), each with defined roles and responsibilities, all working towards same goals; teacher librarian can then focus more on teaching rather than Management

    b.Identify strategies / initiatives / support at the school level that need to be in place to ensure that school libraries and professional role of TL continuously help students learn and achieve.

    • Library timetable needs to be based on CPPT (Co-operative Programming Planning and Teaching) , a flexible timetable, Resource Based Learning (including ICT) and Guided Inquiry

    • The teacher librarian should be seen as a teacher of both students and staff

    • Ideally the teacher needs to be included in the Executive Staff ; or at least meeting with and consulting / advising

    • a positive professional working partnership between the Teacher Librarian and Principal; with shared visions and goals for the Library

    • adequate library budget

    c.Identify strategies / initiatives / support at the NSW DET level that need to be in place to ensure that school libraries help students learn and achieve.

    • The DET needs to provide clear guidelines and models of implementation to schools of successful CPPT and flexible timetabling, in order to eliminate (or at least reduce) the RFF load of teacher librarians.

    • Funding should be allocated to ensure a full time qualified teacher librarian is appointed to every school, regardless of student numbers

    • allocate adequate SAS Library staff in order to maximise the teacher librarian’s teaching role

    Jenny Scheffers (Caddies Creek PS), Colleen Blancato (Hassall Grove PS), Honor White (Rooty Hill HS), Fran Mead (Eastern Creek PS), Sharon Laurence (Rouse Hill HS), Belinda Doyle (Erskine Park HS) and Jan Poona (Rooty Hill PS)

  8. Thank you for your thoughtful and comprehensive contributions regarding the initiatives and strategies that TL practitioners can implement to help ensure the school library is central to student learning.

    Many thanks to Sharon Markless for sharing such a wealth of ideas based on your experience with school libraries in the UK.

    I see the concept of capacity building underpinning many of the contributions to date, and encourage people (if they haven’t already) to visit the article ‘School libraries building capacity for student learning 21C’ http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/assets/pdf/Schoollibraries21C.pdf written by Colleen Foley and myself for the latest issue of Scan.

    What other strategies, intiatives and support at the practitioner level can help build capacity?

    Lyn Hay
    School of Information Studies
    Charles Sturt University

  9. This is a joint response from the Selective Schools TL network meeting 30th June. These notes are very brief. Please accept my apologies if the notes are not complete from our discussions.

    * Communicate with everyone- in your library, in the school, the school intranet pages, the principal, other librarians, student blogs, at network meetings, at conferences. One of the biggest problems is the isolation of being the only TL in a school. Opening two- way communication channels can make an amazing difference to this feeling of isolation.
    * be proactive in linking with faculties to find out where support for teaching and student learning can take place. This is a continuous process, and what helps one faculty or group of students will be different to the next. It can take the form of information literacy classes within the curriculum, providing specialist collections for Year 12 English topics, finding out which DVDs would be useful for each faculty, etc
    * get data on what is needed, how the library is being used, how it’s working and what the library users want. This is the base on which any plan for the library sits. This then drives the direction for the library which personally reflects the needs of that school, and all of the school community.
    * try new and different approaches to provide solutions to the student and teacher needs. If they don’t work, try something else. Innovation should be an integral part of the library policy to create the vision seen for your library.
    * manage the change, as Sharon Markess suggests, in a strategic way. Give a timeline that has been worked out in consultation with the stakeholders.
    * link up with other TLs in networks – the fantastic ideas that you get listening to other TLs explain how they have worked out a solution to a problem that does not yet exist is amazing, and uplifting!
    * continually think of ways to link the student population to the wealth of information that is your library collection. Email newsletters, searchable blogs in Moodle, discussion boards for students on new resources, specialist collections, HSC book raps: these are all in action in different school libraries.
    * allow opportunities in the library that support the effective teaching that Ross Todd listed. Have a clear view of the design of the learning tasks and be involved where you can.

    This has been such an interesting, productive exercise in broadening our outlook on the work of the teacher librarian. We thank you for the opportunity to participate in the discussions.

  10. One of the critical challenges in terms of continuous improvement and personal capacity building is keeping up to date with the vast body of research that informs daily decision-making about the professional work of teacher-librarians. It is very clear to me that educational systems around the worls are increasingly putting emphasis on evidence-based decision making, particularly implementing interventions that are based on established reesearch evidence. This is an inormous challenge – not just trying to keep up to date, but internalizing this research and carefully looking at how this can be interpreted and translated into daily professional practice. Often teacher librarians claim that much research is so remote and disconnected from their professional practice. This is an important challenge. In order for research and practice to be more intricately connected, how can this be done? What would you like to see?

  11. Selective Schools Network Meeting 30/6/09
    a. Presenters from within the network explain how their effective school library builds capacity for student learning.
    1. Accessibility to the whole school community: Joy Henderson (NSBHS)
    North Sydney Boys HS has links to the library through their website. Their library system is Oliver, which provides different access to their catalogue than OASIS. Through the school intranet the library homepage contains links to their catalogue, local library’s catalogue, encyclopaedia Britannica and databases. The library tab on the school’s internet homepage contains links to the NSW State Library, search and evaluation strategies, a creative commons and discussion forum for student book reviews. The daily bulletin, newsletter, weekly emails to staff and students, displays, and year book complement the accessibility to the library.
    2. Resource collection and learning tools within Moodle: Monica Morscheck (SBHS)
    Sydney Boys High senior library has been set up separately recently, and Moodle was chosen as the entry point to their resources as the tool with which most students were comfortable. Digital resources, websites portal, wikis are all included. There is accessibility to a citation maker, plagiarism checker (a website with school account) essay maps, mind maps, direct links to HSC subject websites. HSC wikis and digitised resources for HSC subjects including InFocus resources, are available through the school portal.
    3. Availability of new resources to keep the collection dynamic: Carol Blaschke (GHS)
    The Girraween High School Librarian sends an electronic copy of the new monthly resource list to each teacher. It is done as a PDF document attached to email. All new periodicals have the cover and contents page scanned and included as part of the document. All other resources, including the SCAN websites are also listed. Students receive a monthly email school newsletter, and book reviews are included.
    4. Availability of resources supporting the professional needs of teachers.: Helen Lee ( StGGHS)
    St George Girls HS Library now has an updated Teacher professional development collection. This includes generic quality teaching and leadership resources including periodicals and websites. An emphasis is placed on updated gifted and talented resources. The resources are located in the teachers reading room.

  12. There is no doubt the greater majority of teacher librarians are extremely devoted in aiding all members of the school community become as information literate as possible.

    The main factor that halts this ideal is the issue of staffing. No matter how good you are there has to be a limit to the efficiency of any school library if the time is not available via staffing availability.

    There needs to be a ratio between the number of students at a school and the number of teacher librarians and library assistants that is as fixed as possible thus enabling library staff to set programmes that will actually be able to be implemented.

    Although it is all not as simple as that the fact is it IS as simple as that. The day the executive of a school realise this that school will go forward. There are so many brilliant research type programmes just sitting out there awaiting implementation but if the car has no petrol (staff) there is a limit to the distance (outcomes) that can be achieved.

  13. This is the section I’ve put off answering because, really, I find it quite daunting. We, as educational practitioners in school libraries, can spout off about how we should be listened to until we are blue in the face, but helping to provide the necessary statistics as evidence for change – in an organised way, that can be trusted and accurately interpreted – is so difficult.

    When governments do attempt to initiate national testing of students, to gather that hard evidence of the value being added to learning, we look at their motives with great suspicion – and rightly so, when we all know how statistics can become such a powerful weapon for cost-cutting and false advertising. After all, teacher-librarians spend a lot of time teaching students how to analyse data and texts to detect their authority, validity and reliability.

    Ross mentioned that “one of the critical challenges in terms of continuous improvement and personal capacity building is keeping up to date with the vast body of research”.

    Having just attended the two-day NSW DET Connected Learning 2009 conference (and presenting in a session), I’m internalising a lot more than just “research and carefully looking at how this can be interpreted and translated into daily professional practice”. This year’s conference was subtitled “Transforming Learning and Teaching” (even the order of “learning” and “teaching” in the title was examined!) and it made me think back to this blog site on more than several occasions.

    Some of the points raised by the keynote speakers were so important, thought-provoking and challenging. The presentations by Mark Treadwell and Peter Blassina, particularly, were quite mind-blowing. If you haven’t seen the TED talk on “The Sixth Sense” by Pattie Maes (MIT Media Lab), as discussed by Peter Blassina at the conference, it’s a must-see:

    After that video, we were all feeling more than a little inadequate, and yet incredibly excited by the possibilities. As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, here I was thinking my iPhone was pretty clever, and a harbinger of how students of the future would still be needing the help of teacher-librarians to plough through our information world. If “The Sixth Sense” becomes a commercial reality, the learning curve starts anew before the current one is even finished. Are any of us ready for the next paradigm shift?

    Ross also mentions how “often teacher librarians claim that much research is so remote and disconnected from their professional practice. This is an important challenge. In order for research and practice to be more intricately connected, how can this be done? What would you like to see?”

    Colleen Foley and I were pleased we had plenty of school principals at our session! But there was so much information to convey in a 50 minute session of a two-day conference – at which all attendees were giving up two days of their vacation. Thus “strategies / initiatives / support at the practitioner level” depend upon practitioners giving up their own leisure time to keep pace. Which is hardly ideal. How else can we ensure that principals are empowered to act in the most effective ways? And will every teacher-librarian be comfortable and capable of providing the local research data being asked of them, and then interpreting it, and internalising the research from further afield, and making it relevant to their day-to-day educational encounters?

    At my school, I’m probably very fortunate that we are part of the Priority Schools Program (PSP). In order to keep getting our funding, compiling statistics of our evidence-based practice is embedded. As teacher-librarian, I made sure I was part of the PSP committee, but I can see that setting up something similar – regular, planned pre-testing, post-testing and evaluating – is not easy in non PSP schools.

    The time (and funding) needed to analyse results, particularly, and prepare reports that convince all stakeholders that certain changed practices are achieving, or not achieving, outcomes is substantial.

    Essential “Strategies / initiatives / support”: Hasn’t it always been about this, and don’t we always complain there’s never enough planning, reflection, money, time and training.

  14. Nowra Public School Teacher Librarian
    I have been collaborating with the teachers (30) at the school since I have been in the TL position (4 years). Time has been allocated for collaborative planning. The collaboration has been most successful with those teams who understand the importance of concurrence of learner goals between the library and the classroom. These teams have included IL and ICT criteria addressed in library into their stage rubrics (together with other criteria addressed in classroom). TL and classroom teacher collaboratively assess these criteria ensuring consistent teacher judgement across the stage team. At times the assesment for IL and ICT effects student’s overall assessment. Teachers accept the contribution the work in the library contributes to student outcomes. Its has been a much more gradual process than I initally anticipated and only a small percentage of teachers participate in the consistent teacher judgement process in collaboration with the TL.

  15. Strategies, initiatives and support at the practitioner level, from my experience, involve the adoption of the belief that every member of the school community is a learner. At this time of rapid change, that is the one constant!

    Teacher librarians have a unique advantage in that they do not generally have direct responsibility for reporting the progress of individual students to parents. This places them in a position where they can concentrate on the learning needs of both teachers and students.

    The most valuable learning asset today is one’s Personal Learning Network. It’s individually tailored to your own interests and can cost nothing more than a commitment of time. It’s your Personal Learning Network that will equip you with the skills and knowledge to support teachers as they grapple with the evolving needs of the curriculum. Leading them in the development of their own lifelong learning framework is an initiative well worth pursuing for the teacher librarian.

    This discussion has been a thought provoking discussion. Thanks to all involved in its organisation. Camilla

  16. What will it take to get there?
    Assuming common sense and not political dictates are the order of the day and there is a balance of people, technology and books, it will take:-
    • Inclusion of and in high quality inservicing.
    • be able to fully access WEB 2.
    • have easier access to on-line web searching.
    • have a bigger budget.
    • not be a slave to fashion.
    • be more ‘pro-active.’
    • be part of the school executive by creating the post of ‘Head Teacher Librarian’ and thus raise the status of the T/L. or make the T/L part of the executive.
    • Communicate with the T/L as an equal and valuable member of staff and include them in the school’s decision making process for all Teaching and Learning as well as technology.
    • Listen to the T/L and collaborate with them.
    • The DET needs to reinforce their own statement that students be introduced to ALL types of resources and information search techniques. At the moment I feel there is a bias toward too much reliance on technology created by a tendency toward blackmail for funding.
    • Syllabi need to reinforce variety in the information process.
    • pay for all T/L’s to be members of ASLA or ALIA.
    • Place T/L’s in schools as a whole person regardless of pupil numbers.
    • Ensure that the T/L is a teacher not a baby sitter.

    Allen Mayfield
    Teacher Librarian

  17. Strategic professional learning that is focussed and has a clear goal – try to avoid doing lost of different things and focus on a few that can be followed through in an in depth way. Mentor support for encouragement and leadership. A strong focus on evidence based practice and true client or learner focussed programs.

    June Wall

    Past President
    Vice President – Association Operations
    Head of Library
    St Ignatius College, Riverview

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