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Back to School

Today I had my first ‘library session’ at the local primary school, and it was great! The Teacher Librarian was very friendly and helpful, and she even put me to work straight away – I got to do ‘borrowing’ with her Year 3 class, and I also updated their ‘Premier’s Reading Challenge’ booklists. I also spent some time tidying up book shelves, which actually helped me to find start to work out how the library is organised and what sorts of resources it has.

Debbie, the TL, was able to shed some light on what some of my assignment questions are all about, from a professional’s perspective, and she also pointed out some resources that I might be able to refer to for guidance. See, TL’s are great!

We also chatted about the realities of working as a TL, which can often be quite different to the ideals that are espoused in some of the literature I have been reading. Debbie said that her biggest problem is that many of the teachers at her school are very resistant to change, so she has had to take minute steps to implement some of her ideas over the past 6 years that she has been working at the school. She said she feels she has been successful in some of her goals, like getting boys to read more, and having all children complete the Premier’s Reading Challenge, but she has not been able to convince her colleagues that cooperative planning and teaching is a good idea: they see it as too much work, and they hate the idea of having someone watch them teach.

Debbie did mention that she has quite a supportive Principal, however, and he has helped her to get class teachers into the library for library sessions: all infants teachers stay for the whole session, and primary teachers stay for half. She said this has been a small step away from simply dropping the class off for RFF, and it has helped her to gain more respect and appreciation from her colleagues as they have seen the effort she puts in to her lessons, and they have noticed the impact she has made on their students’ learning.

I was also very pleased to learn that Debbie is very familiar with a lot of the current literature, so we were able to discuss some of it in the context of what actually happens in the ‘real world’. Today’s meeting has really helped me to put some of what I’m learning into perspective, and I’m looking forward to returning to the school library next week to learn more!

Fast forward 3 months!

How time flies! My last post was three months ago, and much has happened since then!

Bub arrived safely on the 16th of April, which was fantastic because she just made it to 37 weeks! So my family and I have been busy adjusting to having a new baby in our lives. We are so lucky that she’s such a relaxed and content little girl. She is now almost 12 weeks old, and I think we’ve all settled in nicely.

So, it’s time to think about uni again, as the new semester starts next week! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. I am looking forward to getting back into it. I just hope I can find enough time to study – I’m only doing one subject at a time, so that should help. Wish me luck!

Another setback…

Wow, what an interesting week!

A couple of days after hearing from Deborah, I had a serious think about my situation (two kids under three and a third on the way very soon), and the fact that I’m falling further and further behind in my studies, despite recently dropping down to one subject per semester… and decided to defer until next semester 😦

Two days later, I ended up in hospital with some pregnancy complications, the end result of which is that I will probably have this baby within the next week – eek! So, this has completely confirmed for me that my decision to defer was the right one. I’m disappointed, as I thought this semester would probably be my easiest one (while I have two kids and not three) but I guess I didn’t consider the exhaustion factor of late pregnancy, as well as the swollen feet and back pain whilst trying to sit for long periods at the computer to study!

Due to my hospital stay, I wasn’t able to meet up with Deborah during the week, either. However, after the school holidays I am hoping to catch up with her and try to negotiate spending some time in the library anyway, as I still think it will be a fantastic experience for me, and will certainly give me a better start when I try uni again later on in the year.

So, all is not lost! Just a small hiccup along the way 🙂

Success!!

Just when I was feeling so discouraged, a wonderful Teacher Librarian from a local school has just contacted me and offered to help me with my studies!! Her name is Deborah and she sounds lovely. She said she felt she owed it to the profession, as there are many more TLs approaching retirement age than there are coming into the profession. Plus, she mentioned she did her training under similar circumstances to mine and found she really needed the support of practising TLs to get her through. I can’t wait to go and meet her next Wednesday, as I think it will really help me to connect what I am learning to the ‘real world’. Hurrah!

More ‘Elements’

Gosh, I’m not even a teacher librarian yet, and I already feel overwhelmed by the number of ‘elements’ I have had to add to my initial concept of a teacher librarian’s role! Now here’s another one: action research and evidence-based practice.

Action research formed a major part of my undergraduate studies in education, so I’m very familiar with it. We used to moan and groan at the thought of another action research project, but now I’m more comfortable with the concept and can definitely see the benefits of being a reflective practitioner. How else do I find out whether the techniques I am trying are actually working? How else do I engage with current research and try to improve my practice?

So, in regards to teacher librarianship, action research and evidence-based practice would be a main priority, for me. I guess I should have seen it coming!! It’s possibly even more important for a teacher librarian to base their practice on gathering evidence, due to the increasing need for accountability that teacher librarians seem to be facing in schools these days.

This week we were asked to think about which ‘elements’ of a teacher librarian’s role we would choose as priorities, and how we would make these priorities clear and ‘palatable’ to the wider school community.  At this point I would have to say that I am leaning towards evidence-based practice, collaboration with classroom teachers, integrating information literacy skills with content outcomes, flexible scheduling and inquiry-based learning as major priorities, but these may change as I continue on my teacher librarianship journey.

I think one way of clearly demonstrating, and making palatable, my priorities to the school community would be through research and evidence-based practice itself. If, as a teacher librarian, I could give clear-cut evidence that the priorities I had chosen were helping students to improve not only their information literacy skills, but also their deep understanding of and engagement with content (which according to Todd (2007), is even more important),  then I think they could find little to argue with.

Reference

Todd, R.J. (2007). Evidenced-based practice and school libraries: from advocacy to action. In Hughes-Hassell, S. & Harada, V.H. School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57-78). Westport, CY: Libraries Unlimited.

Can’t catch up!

Today I decided to drop down to one subject per semester, so I’ve said goodbye to ‘ETL503: Resourcing the Curriculum’ for the time being! I’m a little bit sad about it, as I really wanted to make a good start and get two subjects out of the way before bub arrives, but it’s probably for the best. I’m so far behind at the moment, due to our technical difficulties. Plus, things aren’t getting any easier on the pregnancy/parenthood/total exhaustion front either… so yes, probably best to just slow down a little. Baby steps!

I also have yet to hear back from any of the schools I approached for experience in the library, which is a bit disheartening. With the first assignment looming, I really need to get going on this. Will have to make some calls and send more letters next week.

Bit of a glitch…

Oh, the joys of internet access! I have just experienced two weeks without any reliable internet connection (have had to resort to walking to my in-laws to borrow theirs), and I can only wonder how I ever coped without it!! Even things like deciding what to wear each day become harder without instant access to the Bureau of Meteorology Website!!! However, we have now changed providers and are back on track – heaps of catching up to do as far as uni work is concerned, as I haven’t been able to do anything for almost a week. Yikes!