The leadership role of the Teacher Librarian (TL) is becoming increasingly complex. There are many ways a TL can lead even though it may not be considered a legitimate titled position within the school. In considering this, Section 3.3 of the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians (ASLA, 2014) states that there are four areas in which excellent TLs can demonstrate leadership. These include actively engaging in school leadership and participate in key committees; promote and nurture a ‘whole school focus’ on information literacy policy and implementation; build and foster collaborative teams within school and professional communities; and provide effective and transformational leadership to school library and information services staff.
Actively engaging in school leadership and participate in key committees.
The TL was described as an instructional leader. (Branch & Oberg, 2001) This article emphasises the collaborative leadership role that TLs play and the way they serve on curriculum and other committees. They are also described as a literacy leader. (Cart, 2007) This article emphasises the leadership role TLs can play in improving literacy and reading in a school. Barbara Braxton also backs up this idea of TL as a literacy leader but states that the move to the digital age has added so much more to the role. (Braxton, 2008) Loertscher uses an ice-cream analogy to describe TLs as learning leaders and gives a guide how to be a learning leader. (Loertscher, 2006)
These three articles together go to show that TLs can play a role as a leader in a school. Some even give guides as to how you can do this in your school. They also talk about the various committees you can join to promote the role in your school. These include literacy committees, reading committees, ICT committees, amongst others. By considering your personal leadership style, you can embrace these talents and use them to promote the role of the TL.
Promote and nurture a ‘whole school focus’ on information literacy policy and implementation.
There has been a huge push towards information literacy in schools. Information literacy leads to students being independent learners. They know their information needs and how to acquire the right sources to answer their questions.
In their paper, Fitzgerald and Dawson recount developing one of the early information literacy policies. This guide has some basic steps to help TLs to develop their own guides. (Fitzgerald & Dawson, 1998) The next step would be to also consider showing leadership by leading in the field of Information and communications Technology (ICT). Valenza gives great advice in getting started in this growing area. The next step for the TL is to read these and add to them. (Valenza, 2007)
Build and foster collaborative teams within school and professional communities.
Several studies suggest that TLs have a positive effect on student achievement and benefits to collaboration have been similarly well documented in the research literature. Modelling collaboration by the TL resulted in more collaboration among faculty in schools. Modelling collaboration also influenced students, teachers, and parents to learn to share ideas. When students worked in teams, the role of teacher changed to that of resource person and learning facilitator. (Haycock, 2007)
The TL is in a unique position in the school to be a collaboration leader. They have a good grasp of curriculum and resources. They are in a central location in the school. If their mannerisms are approachable and helpful this will aid teachers and TLs working side-by-side which promotes the TL as a leader in this area.
Provide effective and transformational leadership to school library and information services staff.
Teacher-librarians have had to be at the forefront of change and innovation as the profession rose to meet the information age. Though the principal is definitely the instructional leader in a school, the principal is very busy managing a facility. The key to school reform is the use of the teacher as a leader. This teacher leader is a change agent, someone who thrives in a flattened collaborative model, a model where teacher excellence is recognized. TLs, committed to a philosophy of partnership with the classroom and administrators, need to advocate for a collaborative setting if they are to be successful in this leadership role. (Hutchinson Belisle, 2004)
The TL has an excellent opportunity for transformational leadership here. They can lead due to their knowledge of curriculum. They can lead because of their ability to collaborate with school staff members. The other skill that needs development here is possibly managerial skills. This has not been covered in the course so far. The TL might need to be a leader in terms of ordering and managing resources, managing library technicians or assistants and other related tasks.
There are many ways in which the TL can show leadership in a school. These points only touch on the complex role of the TL. As teachers we have to be proactive and professional in our role if we want to be seen as a dynamic teacher. As TLs we have to do the same not just to highlight our personal role in the school, but to promote the role of the TL industry.
ASLA. (2014). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Branch, J.L. & Oberg, D. (2001). The teacher-librarian in the 21st century: The teacher-librarian as instructional leader. School Libraries in Canada. Vol. 21. No. 2. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/openview/901d9d061936d9620fd82d15aa4c3bbe/1?pq-origsite=gscholar
Braxton, B. (2008). The teacher-librarian as literacy leader. Teacher Librarian, Vol.35(3), p.22(5) [Peer Reviewed Journal] Retrieved from Ebscohost.
Cart, M. (2007). Teacher-librarian as literacy leader. Teacher Librarian, Vol.34(3), p.8(5) [Peer Reviewed Journal]. Retrieved from Ebscohost.
Fitzgerald, L. & Dawson, D. (1998). Designing a whole school information literacy policy. Scan, Vol.17(1), pp.21-22. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;dn=115547;res=AEIPT
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning.[online]. Scholarworks.sjsu.edu. Available at: http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1023&context=slis_pub
Hutchinson Belisle. C. (2004). The teacher as leader: Transformational leadership and the professional teacher or teacher-librarian. School Libraries in Canada. Vol. 24(3). Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.183.4780&rep=rep1&type=pdf#page=73
Loertscher, D. (2006). What flavor is your school library? The teacher-librarian as learning leader. Teacher Librarian, Vol.34(2), p.8(5) [Peer Reviewed Journal] Retrieved from Ebscohost.
Valenza, J.K. (2007). You know you’re a 21st-century teacher-librarian if .. Teacher Librarian, Vol.35(1), p.18(3) [Peer Reviewed Journal]. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/224886256?OpenUrlRefId=info:xri/sid:primo&accountid=10344