ETL504 TEACHER LIBRARIAN AS LEADER – MODULE 6.1 FORUM POSTING

In this subject you have been reading and exploring key aspects of leadership strategy:

·        Leadership both from an organisational perspective and curriculum / teaching and learning.

·        Innovation and change

·        Communication

·        Planning

In the forum discuss how you can approach developing your leadership role in your school using Simon Sinek’s “why” and your purpose in education. What is it that makes me (as a TL) unique in the school, what can I do?

Once again the importance of a moral purpose or belief underpinning and guiding the actions of an organisation, school or library is emphasised. 

If you focus your actions on your belief, your purpose, your vision, you will inspire others to join in and contribute to that vision.  People will buy into that vision (Sinek, 2008).  Therefore, having a clear educational vision of the role (or the purpose) of the library guiding all your actions, is important in attracting people in supporting and building that vision.  It will inspire others to join and buy into your vision.

The vision must be an educational one which is tied to the strategic outcomes of your school and your education system (Combes, 2009). As TL the vision needs to be about developing information literate students who are able to build knowledge through active learning in a digital and print landscape (O’Connell, 2012, p. 224).

Communicate your vision through conversations, professional dialogue, staff meetings, collaborative planning, demonstrations/modelling, and by being proactive in the school community.  If it is a good vision with a moral purpose, members of the school community will buy into that vision and contribute to it, support it and be inspired to achieve it (O’Connell, 2012, p. 224; Belisle, 2005; Sinek, 2008).  Modelling the behaviour, the strategies, and the enthusiasm required to achieve the vision (the How and the What) is also required to achieve it (O’Connell, 2012, p. 224; Belisle, 2005, p. 78; Sinek, 2008). 

As a classroom teacher I have always programed, for example in English, by selecting the targets/focuses for a unit of work and driving all learning experiences in reading, writing, talking and listening towards the achievement of those targets.  Effective communication, teaching concepts in context and across contexts, explicit and high expectations were all applied to drive the achievement of the targets/outcomes.  As TL I will apply the same technique to the library vision, driving all communication and all actions towards the achievement of the vision.  Zmuda and Harada (2008, p. 1) also advocate the need to “practice a mission-focused mindset that empowers school leadership teams to drive school improvement.”

As TL I can use Simon Sinek’s WHY and my purpose in education to:

·        Inspire colleagues through modelling the desired behaviour, professionalism, and teaching strategies: those that promote high standards and achievement of the vision (Avolio, Walumba & Weber, 2009, p. 423; Dinham, 2005, cited in Dinham, 2007, p. 268).   (Authentic leadership)

·        Model and communicate results from evidence based practice at staff meetings or during collaborative planning sessions.  I can lead a drive in improvement through the use of a cycle of inquiry based on evaluating student work, teaching practices, and the use of innovative ideas.  Modelling and instructing others in this practice will lead to improvement in teaching and student learning outcomes (the vision) (ALIA & ASLA, 2004; Lamb & Johnson, 2004-2010; Knapp, Copland & Swinnerton, 2007, pp. 85, 99).  (Instructional leadership)  Zmuda and Harada (2008, p. 3) stress the importance of combining these actions in a collaborative setting with a mission-centred belief.  They also advocate focusing on a handful of improvements, which is what I will do as TL.

·        Provide professional development opportunities for colleagues, in addition to leading through collaborative efforts (Pashiardis & Savvides, 2011, p. 424; Møller et al., as cited in Pashiardis & Savvides, 2011, p. 414).  (Instructional leadership)

·        Equip staff with the strategies and skills to improve practice through cycles of inquiry, so staff can then lead others in the same process.  I can provide leadership opportunities for colleagues by allowing them to share/present strategies and results, and work with others, while continuing to improve student learning outcomes (Van Horn 2006; Vernon-Dotson, Rodrigues, & Belcastro, as cited in Vernon-Dotson, 2012, p. 39). (Distributed leadership) 

·        Develop a strategic plan to achieve the WHY, the vision, and implement it, communicating progress along the way (Wong, 2012)

·        Involve the school community in developing the strategic plan so they have ownership of the vision and by the conclusion of the process, everyone will have a shared purpose and a clear understanding of why the library is providing the services it provides (Nelson, 2008, p. 4).

·        Work collaboratively with staff to counteract isolationism.  I would work strategically with staff, including those in specialist roles,  as a co-operative unit, sharing talents and resources in order to achieve the belief/vision/goals (Zmuda & Harada, 2008, p. 4).

·        Communicate – clearly communicate the vision and strategies to achieve it; taking time to listen and explain; encouraging others; consistent advertising of progress and achievements;

·        Support colleagues through: collaborative work; providing resources, knowledge and ideas; time to discuss, plan, assess, evaluate; professional learning;  

·        Develop trust through reliability, support, encouragement, commitment, being organised, modelling best practice;

·        Build relationships with colleagues through working together, openness, sharing, communicating, supporting;

·        Set high standards – Set and maintain high standards inspires others to do the same;

These actions work with modelling behaviour, being an active learner, evidence based practice, innovative ideas, being organised, showing commitment, inspiring others, openness and collaboration to build the vision of the school library, which is to support the teaching and achievement of student learning outcomes and the vision.

References

Australian Library and Information Association & Australian School Library Association.  (2004).  Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians.  Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx   

Avolio, B., Walumbwa, F., & Weber, T. J. (2009, September 14). Leadership: Current theories, research, and future directions. Retrieved July 23, 2013, from digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1036&context=managementfacpub   

Belisle, C. (2005). The teacher as leader: Transformational leadership and the professional teacher or teacher-librarian. School libraries in Canada (17108535), 24(3), 73-79.

Combes, B. (2009). Challenges for teacher librarianship in the 21st century: Part 3 – Status and role.  In SCIS Connections.  Retrieved on September 16, 2013 from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/challenges_for_teacher_librarianship.html

Dinham, S. (2007). How schools get moving and keep improving: leadership for teacher learning, student success and school renewal. Australian Journal Of Education (ACER Press), 51(3), 263-275.

Lamb, A & Johnson, L.  (2004-2010). Library media program: Evidence based decisionmaking.  In The school library media specialist.  Retrieved from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evidence.html

Knapp, M. S., Copland, M. A., & Swinnerton, J. A. (2007). Understanding the promise and dynamics of data-informed leadership. InYearbook of the national society for the study of education, 106(1), 74-104. Retrieved July 27, 2013, from Charles Sturt University Library.

Nelson, S. (2008). Part one: The planning process. Strategic Planning for Results (pp. 3-139). Retrieved from Charles Sturt University Library.

 O’Connell, J. (2012). Change has arrived at an iSchool library near you. In Information literacy beyond library 2.0 (pp. 215-228). Retrieved from Charles Sturt University Library.

 Pashiardis, P., & Savvides, V. (2011). The interplay between instructional and entrepreneurial leadership styles in Cyprus rural primary schools. Leadership & policy in schools, 10(4), 412-427. doi:10.1080/15700763.2011.610557

Sinek, S. (2008). How great leaders inspire action (Sinek, 2009).  In TED Ideas worth spreading.  Retrieved on September 16, 2013, from http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

Vernon-Dotson, L. J., & Floyd, L. O. (2012). Building leadership capacity via school partnerships and teacher teams. Clearing house, 85(1), 38-49. doi:10.1080/00098655.2011.607477

Wong, T. (2012). Strategic long-range planning. Library media connection, 31(2), 22-24. Retrieved from Charles Sturt University Library.

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