May 25, 2013 by patriciawhite84
Assessment Item 5 – Part B
Knowing what a Teacher Librarian does is one thing, actually being one is another.
I have always known that there is more to being a Teacher Librarian than just reading and looking after books. But the vast scope that the role demands has been mind blowing. Piece by piece I have slowly started to gather my mental fragments in order to put them back together. But how? What is the most important role a teacher librarian plays? What goes first? Will they all connect easily? Do they overlap? So many questions and yet I feel I may never have a clear answer – only a mass of fragments partially assembled. But as long as I’m holding onto the pieces of my mind, I know that, given time, they will all fall into place.
Recently at a job interview I was asked the predictable question of “why?”. Why I wanted to be a teacher librarian or why I thought being a teacher librarian was important? Knowing that this type of question would arise I had prepared my textbook answers to cover all bases. I was prepared to discuss my passion for literature and technology, ability to promote literature appreciation, aiding in the improvement of student literacies as well as my desire to support classroom teaching and learning by providing a dynamic learning environment that enriches the school community. But what came out of my mouth was “how people learn intrigues me”. *Face slap* I never seem to be able to keep my composure during interviews. Now I had to mumble my way through this Freudian slip that I had just dished out, so I focused on the learning component.
It will come at no surprise to Teacher Librarians that learning does happen in the school library, but try explaining that to the rest of society. Their misconceptions and previous experience limit their view on what a modern school library could be, resulting in ‘occupational invisibility’ that Oberg (2006, p.14) discusses. So when I let slip my not quite professional answer I obviously wanted to focus on student learning. How that tiny little slither of curiosity can be moulded and focused to help find answers that challenge the mind and – not to sound too clichéd – feed the soul, really does intrigue me. I know that I won’t have the answer to everything, but I know how to find the most relevant information to help form my opinions and to be able to help others to do so as well. Guiding students to find meaning and relevance in a complex world that enables them to sort through information and move beyond their anxieties, to find understanding and to feel a sense of accomplishment is why I want to be a Teacher Librarian and why being a Teacher Librarian is important (Purcell, 2010).
Okay. But how does one do that exactly? Amongst the vital administrative roles that tie a teacher librarian down, it can sometimes seem that out educator wings have been clipped, limiting our range of influence. Flocking together with liked minds and forming relationships that extend beyond the cage of book stacks, makes being an educator possible. In a world that is interconnected through technology, working collaboratively with the school and greater community to improve student achievement, is what being a modern teacher librarian is all about (Haycock, 2007). Wouldn’t it be nice if that’s all teacher librarians did? Be these super doper educators who work as part of a team, whilst keeping an eye on paperwork. But just like all other professions we have to be held accountable too (Loertscher and Todd, 2003). What we do in the library impacts the whole school community. So we must collect, analyse and share our evidence that clearly illustrates the benefits a school library has on student outcomes.
Although it’s still early stages and it will take me a while to put the pieces together, I know what a teacher librarian can achieve and I feel that I am ready to be one.
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.
Loertscher, D. V., & Todd, R. J. (2003). We boost achievement: Evidence-based practice for school library media specialists. Salt Lake City: Hi Willow Research & Publishing.
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.
Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books, right? A look at the roles of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.