The Role of the Teacher Librarian in practice with regard to Principal support
The readings have enhanced my understanding of the collaboration required between teachers, teacher librarians (TLs) and school principals, collaboration that is essential to achieve the shared goal of all three parties, a successful student learning outcome.
The principal’s support of any school library program will be essential to its success (Shannon, 2009); and various readings suggest that this support is critical to the successful development of any integrated learning program (Farmer, 2007; Hartzell, 2002; Haycock, 2007; Morris, 2007 & Oberg, 2006). TLs know that successful student learning is determined by their positive collaboration with the school community and explicitly with that of the principal (Farmer, 2007, p. 2). This holistic collaboration benefits not only the individual parties but the school community as a whole (Farmer, 2007; Haycock, 2007; Morris, 2007), as there is evidence supporting increased student achievement being connected with the close involvement of TLs and the services they provide (Haycock, 2007; Todd, 2003).
Within the readings, I have observed that where Principals understand and support collaboration between TLs and teachers, they are more likely to value collaboration and communication between the TL and the administration (Todd, 2003); allowing TLs to assume a central role in student achievement when their essential contributions are recognized (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p. 55).
Conversely, not all principals are aware of the benefits the TL can present to both students and teachers. TLs must alter this perception as a principal’s primary source of information regarding the benefits of a library program is the school TL (Hartzell, 2002b). Brophy (2001, p. 9) suggests ‘libraries should demonstrate that they are providing viable services, based on improving and supporting teaching, learning and research, because the fact is that that much of what libraries actually achieve is intangible to management’. Farmer (2007) proposes that TLs must lead by demonstrating the benefits of collaboration between all participants; Principals must be shown that with committed support, the teaching role of TLs need not be limited to students, but can be extended to deliver effective professional development to teachers (Todd, Gordon, & Lu, 2011). This can be encouraged by Principals allocating the appropriate professional development funds and time allowances (Hartzell, 2002a; Morris, 2007).
The readings present a disparity in the quantity and quality of cooperation that TLs receive; principals are a major factor in the Library and the TL achieving or not achieving a strong library program (Oberg, 2006). Teachers who recognise the commitment of the principal to the school library and observe its support will also be willing to commit and collaborate with its programs (Todd, Gordon, & Lu, 2011).
Should TLs trap principals into attending library conferences, as Snyder (2004) suggests, or encourage Principals to observe their teaching programs and planning sessions showing how they contribute to the school and enhance achievement as Haycock (2004) advocates. This is born out by Small, (2002) who stated that, "Collaboration cannot be fully realized without creating a collaborative culture in which all partners see the importance and understand the benefits of collaboration to themselves, each other and their students".
In looking back over the readings, I understand that TLs need to be active in informing their principals in regard to what they do, in order that they can gain support in continuing this process. They need to have an active part in planning, administration and curriculum committees. Collaboration must continue with the library as a central pivot point of learning and the TLs as the ‘gatekeeper’, taking responsibility for ongoing communication with all participants, Teachers, Teacher Librarians and Principals to continue the collaboration (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari 2007, p. 58).
Brophy, P. (2001). The library in the twenty–first century: new services for the
information age. London: Library Association publishing.
Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide,
13(1), pp. 56-65.
Hartzell, G. (2002a). What’s It Take?’ (presented at the Washington White House
Conference on School Libraries in 2002).
Hartzell, G. (2002b). The multiple dimensions of principal involvement. School
Libraries Worldwide, 8(1), 43-48
Haycock, K. (2004). Evidence-based practice. Teacher Librarian, 32(1), p. 6.
Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=14658040&site=ehost-live
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical Success Factors for Student Learning. School
Libraries Worldwide 13(1). pp. 25-35.
Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, A. K. & Caspari, L.K. (2007). Guided Inquiry: learning in the
21st century. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.
Morris, B. J., & Packard, A. (2007). The principal’s support of classroom teacher-media
specialist collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), pp. 36-55.
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the Respect and Support of School Administrators.
Teacher Librarian, 33(3), pp 13-18.
Shannon, D. M. (2009). Principals’ Perspectives of School Librarians. School
Libraries Worldwide. 15(2)
Small, R. V. (2002). Collaboration: Where Does It Begin? Teacher Librarian, 29(5)
Snyder, T. (2004). Gaining the Hearts of Administrators. Teacher Librarian, 31(4). P. 75.
Todd, R. J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement.
School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA287119.html
Todd, R. J., Gordon, C. A. & Lu, Y. (2011). One common goal: Student learning:
Executive Summary of Findings and Recommendations of the New Jersey School Library Survey Phase 2. New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL). Retrieved from http://www.njasl.info/wp-content/NJ_study/Phase2_ExecSum.pdf