OLJ Blog post assessment #1: Comment on the role of the TL in practice with regard to: the convergence of literacies in the 21st century.
The initial readings for this course very strongly indicate that the role of the teacher librarian is incredibly varied, and context dependent. Having only recently finished my teaching degree and not had the opportunity to work in a school outside of my practical experience, I have found the readings to be very helpful to my understanding of the role of the teacher librarian. The teacher librarian has a wide range of responsibilities ranging from collection management and record keeping to curriculum support and staff training; all of which exist, and are dependent on, the context of the school. The facet of the teacher librarian’s role which has stood out most to me is the support and promotion of the literacies required for students to succeed in the 21st Century.
According to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment’s report (2011), only half of Australian adults have achieved the level of literacy required for everyday life. It is therefore vitally important that all aspects of a child’s education support their literacy development and reinforce its importance. Effective teacher librarians should collaborate with teachers to promote reading and reading programs (Australian School Library Association, 2012) as it has been shown that teacher librarians do effect learning and literacy outcomes for students (Australian School Library Association, 2012; Herring, 2007; House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment, 2011)
It is especially important that students’ literacy development is supported considering the expanding technologies students will be expected to have mastered when they leave school, and the range of literacies required in order to use these and become responsible digital citizens. In the USA, teacher librarians are called School Library Media Specialists in order to underline the multimedia aspect of the position (Purcell, 2010). In this age where large volumes of information is so readily accessible (Frey, n.d.), it is important that students learn how to locate information effectively and apply higher order thinking skills to sort and evaluate this information (Purcell, 2010). The role of the teacher librarian includes teaching students to do this. Teacher librarians must therefore be highly skilled in searching across all technologies and platforms, teaching students a wide range of strategies (Valenza, 2010).
As students learn best when they are able to see a real-world connection to what they are doing at school, the teacher librarian should embed search and ICT strategies into their lessons (Lamb, 2011) and collaborate with classroom teachers in order to teach not only the skills necessary, but how to transfer these skills across key leanring areas (Hay, 2006) and technologies (Herring, 2007). The teacher librarian may also be responsible for teaching the use of new technologies and search strategies to classroom teachers (Australian School Library Association, 2012; Purcell, 2010). Valenza (2010) adds that rather than ban popular and social networking sites, teacher librarians can and should use these as a teaching tool. However, it should be noted that certain social networking sites have age restrictions, and the teacher should always use caution to ensure the safety of their students online and campaign against cyberbullying.
With regard to digital citizenship, it is noted in the readings that students do not have a strong grasp of plagiarism and respect for copyright, particularly with consideration to online sources (Herring, 2007; House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment, 2011; Valenza, 2010), and so need to be taught about these points from ethical and legal standpoints.
As it has been shown that good teacher librarians impact student learning outcomes (House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment, 2011), it is important for teacher librarians to maximise the time spent with students by integrating learning areas with literacy development and ICT, and working with classroom teachers to promote literacies in students.
Australian School Library Association. (2012, 12 10). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved 12 06, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Frey, T. (n.d.). The future of libraries. Retrieved 11 20, 2013, from DaVinci Institute: http://www.davinciinstitute.com/papers/the-future-of-libraries/
Hay, L. (2006). School libraries as flexible and dynamic learning labratories? That’s what Aussie kids want. Scan, 25(2), 18-27.
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson , Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42). Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment. (2011). School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.
Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school lbrary media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.
Valenza, J. (2010, 12 3). A revised manifesto. Retrieved 12 06, 2013, from School library journal: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/