Assignment 2 Part B: Critical Reflection

During this subject, my view of the role of the teacher librarian has changed and broadened considerably.  As noted in my first blog post for this subject on 09 December 2014, many of my assumptions about the role of the teacher librarian were informed by my professional experience undertaken as part of my undergraduate degree and my own primary and high school education, rather than real experience in the library.  My image of a good teacher librarian and library program was a reflection of the librarian at one of the schools in which I completed my professional experience: one who taught internet skills, supported and encouraged reading and provided a positive learning environment, as noted in my forum post (Dezman, 2013). Studying ETL401, the aspects of the role of the teacher librarian which I reflected upon the most were the support and promotion of literacies in students, inquiry learning, and collaboration with teachers to integrate information skills into the curriculum.

I have always viewed supporting literacy in students as a key role for any teacher, and on beginning this subject, considered the teacher librarian as an extension of the classroom teacher in this respect.  The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment (2011) found that half of the adult population does not have the level of literacy required to successfully participate in Australian life.  Reading this statistic solidified my belief in the importance of teaching reading, prompting me to reflect in my blog post of 09 December 2013 that teacher librarians should work with classroom teachers to do so.  In that blog post, I considered the importance of promoting reading, and the importance of teaching multimedia and ICT skills in order to thrive in the 21st century, but failed to connect the concepts under the broad definition of literacy.  For Assignment 1, I considered the definition of literacy as used by the New South Wales Board of Studies (2012).  This definition encapsulates locating, evaluating and using information from many sources and highlights the importance of being able to do this in order to participate in society.  This definition of literacy changed my view of a key role of the teacher librarian from one who promotes reading and using technology, to one who teaches children to become capable information users.

The question which follows is how the teacher librarian can best fulfil this role.  My blog post of 02 January 2014 was a reaction to the discovery of what seemed like the introduction of yet more learning theories that would be presented to us as the best way to teach.  I concluded that all students learn in different ways, and resolved to learn a variety of teaching strategies and apply them as I felt necessary to each situation.  On reflection, this resolution demonstrated my unwillingness to investigate the worth of implementing any model across my future library program.  The topic of guided inquiry, which I chose for my blog post of 20 January, led me to adjust my perspective.

While I still view guided inquiry as one of many teaching approaches to information literacy, I now appreciate its worth as a method which can benefit students greatly.  From my experiences in school libraries, I had considered library lessons to be separate 30-minute blocks which students participate in once per week, and which have no real connection to classroom learning. I had recognised the importance of collaboration between teacher librarians and classroom teachers, but could not see where the connection would lie.  The Kuhlthau (2010) paper provided this illustration, by describing research projects which connect the library to the classroom curriculum, and added additional elements to the role of the teacher librarian which I had not previously considered.  As noted above, the teacher librarian appeared as an extension of the classroom teacher.  The Kuhlthau (2010) and Sheerman (2011) papers demonstrated that the teacher librarian should be a leader, working to ensure that all students could benefit from these integrated units, and that students received instruction, intervention and assessment in locating and using information for projects connected to what they were learning in the classroom.

Many of the views I held about the role of the teacher librarian changed with my readings.  One view I found to cloud my study this session was my perspective on assessment.  Feedback for my blog post of 28 January, 2014 highlighted that my discussion on assessment in general clouded that of information literacy and inquiry learning assessment.  Assessment has been an interest area of mine, and I have found it difficult to consider assessment techniques of information literacy and inquiry learning as separate to assessment of any other aspect of the curriculum because I feel that assessment is a natural aspect of the teaching and learning process, and is task and outcome dependent.  I recognise that I will have to read more widely on this topic in order to focus my perspective on the best approaches to assess information literacy.

Board of Studies New South Wales. (2012). Learning across the Curriculum.  In English K-10 syllabus. Retrieved from http://syllabus.bos.nsw.edu.au/english/english-k10/learning-across-the-curriculum/

Dezman, N. (2013). Re: Discussion starter 1: Teacher librarian role statements [Online forum comment].  Retrieved from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201390_W_D/page/515f5461-9ff3-469f-8033-e891dd370696

House of Representatives Standing Committee of Education and Employment. (2011). School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia. Retrieved from Parliament of Australia website: http://www.aph.gov.au/parliamentary_business/committees/house_of_representatives_committees?url=ee/schoollibraries/report.htm

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st-century learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18-21.

New South Wales Department of Education and Training. (2007). Information skills in the school: engaging learners in constructing knowledge. Retrieved from http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/teachingideas/isp/docs/infoskills.pdf

Sheerman, A. (2011).  Accepting the challenge: Evidence based practice at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(2), 24-33/

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