Monday, 8 October 2012

First rung - ETL401 - Critical reflection

Critical reflection: - There and back again

As a library technician with over 20 years’ experience in a TAFE library I believed that it was time for a role change. I wanted to work with children in an education environment: to teach students to love the attainment of knowledge and to appreciate using literature in all its forms. To this goal I focused my studies towards teacher librarianship. Despite coming from an academic library background, I have discovered that there is much more to the teacher librarian role than I had previously considered. One revelation was the concept of TLs directing and teaching other teachers (ASLA & ALIA, Standard 3.1, 2004). I had considered TLs to be equally qualified, to teachers rather than having higher qualifications.

Information literacy
My understanding of the concept of information literacy has undergone a radical upgrade. In my blog “Third rung” (Burnett, 2012c), I discussed the role of supporting students through an improved information literacy program with each class. The illustration I presented was in relation to information skills – defining, locating and using information. Now I link other essential skills such as, feelings, thoughts, values, dispositions within my understanding of “Information Literacy” (Kuhlthau, 2004), improving my understanding of student learning by relating the processes they progress through.  I consider it to be an advantage for students to know in advance that anxiety and confusion is an expected part of the process. I believe that this will assist me in guiding students to develop transferable literacy abilities for “lifelong learning”, enabling them to continue independently long after they have left the academic arena, rather than limit my TL role to that of a resource provider (Burnett, 2012d).

I have found the literature to be extensive and provocative; not only the set pieces but the abundance of information located in texts and online that provoked me to review my ideas, such as Todd’s statement that that “Information Literacy is the bridge between ‘Learning to read’ and ‘Reading to Learn” (Burnett, 2012e). These texts have encouraged me to take into account so many new processes that I had not considered essential to successful learning; holistic learning styles, information search processes, guided inquiry strategies (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari).

I struggled with first assignment. After reading the comments on the return of the assignment, I recognised that I had not been working at Masters Level. My goal for assignment 2 is to meet the level expected. The 12 ASLA/ALIA standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians, which was the basis of the first assignment, provided me with guidelines of obtainable objectives that I as a TL can aspire to, rather than a mandatory checklist of skills (ASLA & ALIA, 2004).

Blogs & Forums
To blog or not to blog… social media has not been an aspect of technology that I have been acquainted with in the past. The need to create and use a blog challenged not only my technical skills (Yang, 2009), I was also surprised and encouraged to find that I was not the only one with blogging dyslexia.  After my experiences this semester, I now regard social media as effective learning tools and can see a definite use for this technology in giving students and staff the opportunity to question, share and receive information and reflect on progress.
I discovered that the forums filled a gap that I believed would be lacking in online education, notably student contact and the sharing and debating of ideas and theories (Burnett, 2012f). Far from this case, many of the posts from my fellow students and teachers were ideal continuations of threads that merged with and illuminated my own thoughts. I have found contributing to the forum difficult at times owing to my lack of knowledge of educational procedures, but retrospectively, the posts and comments on the modules highlighted the value of collaboration that comes from sharing ideas with classmates and obtaining their opinions and timely support when needed (Fraser; Kayte, 2012).

Has my view of TLs changed? When I consider my first submitted blog in this arena, it was to reflect my climb through “uninformed knowledge emerging with an insight of the role of the TL” (Burnett, 2012a,). My view of the ‘library’ role of a TL has not changed radically, but there has been a change in my more informed view of the ‘educational’ role of the TL. I was well aware that TLs accomplish much more than just “check out books” (Purcell, 2010). However, until perusing the literature and participating in the forums, I had never considered that TLs would have the need to persuade an educational team to work together. The most revealing statements came from my classmates; that TLs have to prove their worth not only to their fellow teachers but to the principal, whose support of any library program is essential for success (Burnett, 2012b, Burnett, 2012g; Crowe, 2012). I have come to realize that I should become professionally involved in associations such as the School Library Association of Queensland, in the hope of raising the profile of my future profession.
Overall, my view on the role of the teacher librarian has been enlightened and expanded and I’m confident it will continue to evolve as I progress with my studies and within my future career as a teacher librarian.

Australian School Library Association & Australian Library and Information Association (ASLA & ALIA). (2004).
Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Canberra: ASLA
Retrieved from

Burnett, S. (2012a, July 9). First rung. [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Burnett, S. (2012b, September 9). Ninth rung- Blog Task #2: The role of the teacher librarian in practice with
regard to principal support. [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Burnett, S. (2012c, July 26). Third rung: We need to rock the boat. [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Burnett, S. (2012d, July 29). Fifth rung – Blog task #1: Assessing information literacy and inquiry learning in
regard to the practice of teacher librarians. [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Burnett, S. (2012e, September 24). Eleventh Fifth rung – Blog task #3: Information literacy is more than a set

Burnett, S. (2012f, July 22). Topic 1: Online support. [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Burnett, S. (2012g, July 28). Topic 2: Teacher librarian evangelism. [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Crowe, T. (2012, July 29). Topic 2: Support. [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Fraser, C. (2012, September 19). Not exemplary, but for what it’s worth: Ass 1 subforum. [Online forum
comment]. Retrieved from

Kayte. (2012, September 19). Re: wasting my time: Ass 1 subforum. [Online forum
comment]. Retrieved from

Kuhlthau, C, C. (2004). Seeking meaning: a process approach to Library and Information Services. Westport,
            Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau, C, C., Maniotes, L, K. & Caspari, A, K. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st century.
 Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.

Purcell, M. (2010) All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media
 Specialist, Library Media Connection, November/December 2010, Vol. 29 Iss. 3 Pp. 30-33.

Yang, S. H. (2009). Using Blogs to Enhance Critical Reflection and Community of Practice. Educational
Technology & Society, 12(2), 11–21.