Throughout my studies of Masters in Education (Teacher Librarianship), my views, understanding and knowledge have grown dramatically. Developing a deeper understanding of the critical role that teacher librarians (TL) play within schools including: supporting curriculum outcomes, being proactive and responsive in the successful library management, as well as effectively managing information services, has been essential in expanding my understanding of the crucial role of TL within schools.
Following are critical learning points that developed deeper learning and understanding of the concepts related to teacher librarianship throughout my studies.
In reflection, ETL401 provided an excellent basis to introduce many of the key concepts related to TL. Having just completed my Bachelor in Teaching /Arts degree, I had not had any experience working or teaching in school libraries. Many educational advancements have occurred since I was last in a school library. This subject highlighted the importance of the TL in demonstrating how evidence based practice and research skills were essential. Having the ability to not only teach but also use effective search strategies, exposing students to learning that was resource and inquiry based. In addition, I built an understanding of the necessity to use and understand Information Search Processes (ISP) when interacting with digital literacy within a wide variety of Information Process models. The importance of the implementation of this process was discussed in the ETL401 Reflective blog
Building a deeper understanding of the essential role of the teacher librarian when supporting the learning outcomes of students through well-planned, instructional teaching and learning activities occurred during this course. The exploration of information process and enquiry learning models enabled me to see the relationship between positive digital citizenship and information literacy. I adapted my practice within the classroom almost immediately. More guided lessons were introduced and instead of assuming students had these 21st century learning skills, I was explicitly teaching students the skills they would require to become lifelong learners. Since then my knowledge and understanding has expanded greatly. My lessons still contain similar themes, but are essentially less teacher directed and more student lead. This allows me to take advantage of the knowledge and understanding students currently have and build on their skills and research abilities. These lessons are additionally no longer taught in isolation, but are integrated into many classroom activities.
The role of the TL in supporting not only student learning outcomes, but working collaboratively with the school community to enable students to develop the knowledge and understanding to actively engage and participate in the online community, is vital. One of my most critical learning points within this subject was related to building an awareness and understanding of the ISP model outlined by Carol Kulthau. From gaining awareness I now regularly use and refer to this model both individually and with my students. It allows students to see that their feelings of frustration and confusion are normal and encourages them to continue working through the information search steps in order to achieve an outcome. I ensure that when using this model within the classroom, we reflect on how the processes were used, the way that we felt as we were going through the processes, and again at the completion of the task. This metacognitive reflection has resulted in improved attitudes and results with students’ work. Furthermore, metacognitive reflection also allows me to assess where my students require additional support. I am also more easily able to identify what teaching and learning activities have been most effective in order to improve my teaching in the future.
In addition to this, I have placed additional focus on teaching students more effective information literacy skills. Students are then using these critical analysis skills to assess and consider digital information when interacting and communicating online. This has shaped me into being a more effective leader. I am now able to recognise how to more effectively cater for students in order to guide inquiry skills and then transfer this knowledge when operating in 21st century learning environments. This knowledge allows me to provide students with the opportunity to practice the skills of locating, evaluating, considering articles and information. The implementation of information literacy model has also provided my students with the knowledge and foundations to become more successful and independent learners.
ETL501 Information Environment
I experienced several key learning experiences within this subject. Creating my first pathfinder changed the way that I teach and view resource creation. I developed the skills to critically analyse the resources and information that I was using within my teaching and was able to see that some of the information was old, outdated and wasn’t engaging the students. I was able to modify the format and presentation of the information, locate more up to date and relevant information and create a learning and teaching tool that would fundamentally change the way I taught in the future.
By creating resources that would be used within the learning environment I found myself assessing other online resources in order to recognise the most effective way to store and display information that would be most effective for student retrieval. This knowledge has been utilised to address Australian Curriculum ICT learning capabilities. Deepening my understanding of the Organising Elements and Learning Continum has additionally expanded my professional knowledge and expertise.
Another key learning experience came when investigating and critically analysing Web 2.0 tools. I had not previously been aware of the educational benefits of Web 2.0 tools before commencing this subject. These Web 2.0 tools enable students to engage with Information Commutation Technologies (ICT), resulting in improved information literacy skills. I now regularly integrate web 2.0 tools into my lessons, for example mind mapping tools such as bubble.us have been invaluable during literacy lessons where students are practicing the Focus on Reading (FOR) skills and summarizing information. The bubbles allow the students to create a personalised document that they can engage and manipulate in order to record their ideas. This work was then presented at FOR training days and has been implemented across many of the primary classes with great success.
Investigating websites using websites evaluation criteria for collection development was essential in developing my ability to recognise and later create my own resources and utilize Web 2.0 tools within the classroom. The Best Teacher Resources Blog was a fantastic foundation to start my inquirey and exposed me to a wide variety of available Web 2.0 tools. Furthermore, these tools provide students with the opportunity to participate with ICT and an essential part of the curriculum. It is fundamental the TL has the capacity to support students in the use of ICT. These Web 2.0 tools additionally provide students with creative and individualised opportunities when presenting their ideas and work. Despite not working as a TL, I have found that I am working in conjunction with the current TL, discussing and implementing a variety of these tools, not only in my own class, but across the school. This knowledge has resulted in students increasingly having the opportunity to engage and interact with technology that has been embedded into a wide range of learning opportunities. Furthermore, students have developed confidence and competence when collaborating with peers, as well as sharing and presenting their ideas. Students are increasingly motivated and engaged with directing their own learning and are requesting these activities more regularly. They are additionally noticing their skills and competence have increased and enjoy ‘teaching’ other students about technologies that they are engaging with in class.
I am additionally finding that students have developed competency in developing critical thinking skills when locating information in a 21st century learning environment. From teaching and learning activities undertaken within this topic I have been explicitly ably to teach students Information Literacy Skills that have resulted in:
– Improved information literacy skills inclusive of multimedia and digital literacies.
– Developed thinking skills and the ability to deconstruct and establish meaning from information
– Confidence in knowing when to seek assistance and what assistance they require in order to complete an activity.
-The ability to investigate, create, manage, store and communicate relevant information, this is increasingly being done through the utilization of Web 2.0 tools.
– Seeking and locating appropriate information and actively demonstrating good digital citizenship skills.
Furthermore, this subject highlighted how the TL operates as an information manager and specialist. Although I am not currently working as a TL in a school I have used this knowledge and understanding to provide programs for the stage that I work. It was essential that I reflect on and learn the most appropriate way to conduct searching and location of information because as teachers and TLs we must have the skills to be information literate in order to provide students with a range of effective searching skills (Herring, 2011). This additionally provides students with the opportunity to engage in activities in order to build deeper knowledge and understanding further supporting curriculum outcomes and quality teaching and learning.
This personal learning has resulted in increased knowledge and understanding and the expertise to provide students with engaging and varied technologies. I am additionally more proactive in researching and trialing technologies with the view of implementing their use in the classroom and throughout the school. This information is then shared within the school network allowing other teachers to take advantage of the knowledge and expertise I have built within the course. This school network allows me to contribute to the implementation and integration of technology within the school whilst acting as a classroom teacher. It is done in collaboration with the school TL and ensures that a whole school approach is made when integrating technology and ideas across the school. Furthermore, reflection and discussion allows us to modify, reflect and discuss how these tools were used and implemented in order to improve practice, adapting and modifying learning activities to ensure they are most effective as outlined in the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) Standard 2.4.
ETL 503- Library Collections
Another key learning outcome came during the ETL503 course. Having had no previous experience with collection policies this subject was invaluable in building knowledge and understanding as to the importance of implementing and maintaining a collection policy. Building a collection policy gave me the expertise that I will require to ensure that the resources are relevant and purposeful within my own library in the future. I am able to additionally recognise how having these resources as outlined within the collection policy, will improve student engagement. I have developed the foundations and knowledge to identify and weed a collection.
Additionally, I have used this knowledge to update and revise the programs and teaching resources that we use across the stage. This has resulted in more engaging and up to date resources. Students are more motivated to engage with these resources as they consider them to be more visually appealing and not, ‘old fashioned.’ Furthermore, this has altered the way students learn, as the resources are increasingly online and have been collated in web quest styled sites. I now feel both students and teachers have increased their skills and knowledge when engaging with technology. This has built confidence and increased self-efficacy. Furthermore, students’ IPS and IL skills have indirectly improved as a result of regularly practicing and engaging with a variety of technologies and resources and implementing the skills that they have been taught in class. As an additional result of implementing these changes, students are more positive and proactive in researching and engaging with their learning. I can recognise that these changes and adaptation to teaching and resource collection should not be stagnant, but are ongoing. I have also revised the original document in order to improve my practice further. This reinforced Kennedy’s (2006) concept of a collection policy being a working document.
ETL505 Practical uses of cataloging and ETL507 The Changing Environment of Libraries.
Participating in the ETL505 course fell at the same time I completed Semester 1 of ETL507. This was very beneficial at it allowed me to work in collaboration with experts in order to gain the understanding I required in completing the assessment tasks related to cataloging. I had initially struggled with the ETL505 course as I found that there were conflicts in my results when classifying items and the Philip Hider, Information Resource Description (2012) text broadened my understanding. I felt more confident when returning items to shelves than deciding on the classification itself. Completing my placement during this course meant I received a lot of practice in locating and re-shelving items as per the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC23) system. Their coding patterns quickly became familiar and by the end of the first week I found it easier to locate information and subjects by topic. During this placement the collection was additionally weeded of a variety of items. I generated and operated off a list that identified resources that had not been borrowed for four years. These books then were required to be collected and were given to the head librarian so they could decide if they would be removed or re-shelved from the collection. Many items were re-shelved as they were deemed to still be relevant to the teaching topics within the Hunter TAFE Library system. I found this gave me additional practice at re-shelving and returning items.
During the second week of my placement I was provided with more time to practice my cataloging skills. The library had purchased new items and I was instructed to use the DDC23 manuals in order to reference the books. The head librarian had me write down my steps and thinking, as I was working through the texts and then compared my results to the cataloging that the National Library and other TAFE libraries used. I found that practicing my cataloging was very useful as it build a deeper understanding of why resources would be located in different positions. There was one item however, that I cataloged with the same Dewey Decimal Classification as the National Library that we changed the DDC23 coding on. This was due to all texts on Indigenous people being located in the one area. Developing this understanding also allowed me to identify that sometimes, in order to cater more fully for the clientele that you are working with, items needed to be moved to improve access and usability. These changes had been trialed previously and the borrowing results showed that the items began to circulate more regularly and the students preferred that all the texts they required on that specific topic were located together. It reinforced the importance of being aware and catering for the users within our facilities.
In future, if I was needing to catalog items I wouldn’t try to “re-invent the wheel” and create the coding for each item, instead I would refer to the codes the supplier and other institutions use before considering if this would be the most effective cataloging of this item in order to support the users within my Library.
During the second week of my placement, the Hunter TAFE Library I was completing my placement, catered for a large cohort of early childhood students. Many of these students were required to visit the library with infants and interact with them during observation lessons. This meant that the cataloging in the junior fiction area was displayed and stocked differently from the rest of the resources in the library. Books were displayed by topic (using a dot system to catalogue) such as beaches, the bush, Australian stories and fantasy. The books were not shelved, spine out but were placed on racking displaying their front covers. Although the display was visually more appealing and made it easier to select items based on the image on the front cover it was a more difficult system to work with when trying to retrieve different texts for interlibrary loan or borrowing purposes.
The ‘study visits’ completed at the start of ETL507 (CSU, 2014) also provided an excellent experience for observing a variety of library venues. Receiving a tour and having the ability to ask questions in order to expand our understanding of how different instructions worked was invaluable. It was positive being able to compare how different libraries operated and presented their resources in order to cater for their clientele. One of the biggest influences to the physical spaces was the financial expenditure budgets that each library was allocated. Some libraries had spent a lot of money on resources and others had made smart investments with the money they had received in order to make an environment that was visually appealing and inviting. These facilities especially were wonderful in allowing me to see how things like portable shelving, or attaching caster wheels to shelves can enable displays and shelving to be relocated in order to cater for a variety of flexible situations in a small space. As I currently work in the Public School system, these considerations ensure that I can provide my users with a space that is purposeful, engaging and inviting in addition to being practical. I think that maintaining an awareness of not only the physical resources but an understanding of the best ways to present and engage with our learning communities is essential. Since then I have joined several online forums with TL and they regularly suggest ways that they have improved their learning spaces, things they would change or do again. This has provided me wisdom, experience and excellent ideas when I do gain a position as a TL.
The completion of this degree does not mark the end of my learning. In reflection I am more proactive in seeking, locating and trialing new technologies and ways of teaching. My motivation to implement and improve on my expertise has crossed over into many aspects of my life. Personally, I am now a more successful learner and teacher. I have a deeper awareness of ASLA’s Standards of Professional Excellence and the knowlege and skills required by TL and strive to achive these standards within my own teaching practice. I exercise and improve on these skills continually. My skills at leading and interacting with my peers to support and provide professional development have strengthened my self-confidence and have resulted in improved results for my students. I am continuing to participate in professional networks to expand my knowledge and how to most effectively use it.
ASLA. (2014). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2014). Information and and communication technology ( ICT ) capability. In Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/information-and-communication-technology-capability/organising-elements/organising-elements
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2014). Organising Elements of ICT capability (image). Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/information-and-communication-technology-capability/organising-elements/organising-elements
Best Teacher Resources Blog. (2014). 101 Web 2.0 Tools that Every Teacher Should Know About. Retrieved from http://bestteacherblog.com/101-web-2-0-tools-every-teacher-should-know-about/
Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University. (2014). Wagga Wagga: NSW: Interact, Subject unit ETL507, Professional Practice, Study Visits and Professional Placement.
Foster, N. (2013). Critical Reflection-Assessent Item 5-Part B. Retrieved from https://narifoster.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/critical-reflection-assessment-item-5-part-b/
Herring, J. (2011). Improving Students’ Web Use and Information Literacy: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet Publishing.
Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description. London: Facet.
Kuhlthau, C. (2013). Information Search Process. Retrieved from https://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm
Library Image. (2014). Library Wordle (image). Retrieved from http://libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/love-your-library-month.html
National Library of Australia. (n.d.). Catalogue. Retrieved from http://catalogue.nla.gov.au