What the committee wants to know

28 04 2010
After speaking at the Sydney hearing and listening to Melbourne today, can I say that the committee is informed and looking for answers to their questions.  If you can give any concrete answers to the following, I think they would be pleased.
The questions being asked, some of them repeatedly:
Where are the career paths, why would teachers go into this profession?  What is being done to combat the negative perception?
Why isn’t the professional association and the AEU doing more to inform principals and the public?
How varied is the situation across Australia?  AEU wouldn’t/couldn’t? answer!!
What is the difference between private and public school library services? (Are we afraid of telling them the truth? )
What databases can be negotiatied thru ERA for a better school rate? (NB: Like The Source free to all Qld schools.)
Why don’t principals see TLs as vital to obvious Literacy and Digital Literacy emphasis?
Do you have stats? Why are stats no longer collected?
To AEU: Should TLs issues have been given greater priority?  Answer: well, no more than anyone else.
What is the primary purpose of a school library?
Can you give examples of successful IL programs?  Where TLs are making a difference to better use of technology, for example.
What sort of funding will make a difference?
Your dialogue might begin in response to a comment on another Hub page in which the writer wonders why we really need TEACHER librarians when librarians can do it all. What do you think?
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3 responses

29 04 2010
Lesley Abrahams

Why do we need TEACHER-librarians, rather than LIBRARIANS?
In my case I am BOTH. I could not do the job that I DO without my training as a teacher, which I did after graduating as a professional Librarian.
I could not do the job that I DO without the training as a LIBRARIAN.
As a Teacher-Librarian, I work closely with teachers and with students. My training as well as my experience assist me to understand how a teacher is teaching their subject. My teacher training gave me some insights into learning about EVERY Key Learning Area so that I can team-teach with every faculty in the secondary school, as well as respond to different subject areas in the junior curriculum This is absolutely essential in the junior school where literacy, and other subjects such as Science and Technology and History and Geography are integrated across the curriculum. My work with Creative Arts also helps me have an understanding of the needs of the teachers and students when approached for the resourcing and assistance with Visual arts, Drama and Music.
In order to have time to team-teach and keep the “back room” area of the Library running I could not complete all my tasks efficently and suscinctly without my training and experience in LIBRARIANSHIP. This training allows me to grasp the relevance of the resources, whether print or electronic, and my teacher training helps me to know where this might assist in the curriculum. I can therefore bring relevant resources to the attention of the teachers, and guide students in their use.
The training as a TEACHER is paramount, but for efficiency and seamless operation of the Library, training in LIBRARIANSHIP is also crucial.
Therefore I support DUAL training as a requisite for the positon of the Teacher-Librarian.
I do not have any articles or statistics at hand, but there were reports from the New Zealand Dept. of Education, following the cessation of training for the position of teacher-librarian, that after two years, the schools and teachers were crying out for TEACHER-LIBRARIANS to be reemployed, because the service had declined with library para-professionals in the positions.

5 05 2010
Helen Mackintosh

Why do we need TEACHER-librarians in our school libraries?

As the sole Teacher librarian in a primary school of 1300, I work closely with ALL teachers and ALL students.

My training and experience as a teacher means that I am able to integrate information literacy, literature, and ICTs into the curriculum program at all year levels.

For example, in Term1 I worked with all our Year 3 classes on their Environmental Impact Study. This involved Interactive Whiteboard activities integrating literature, teaching the genre, and introducing the children to some useful Web 2.0 applications, along with some of the traditional information literacy skills. We used Wordle ( beautiful word clouds ) as a concept mapping tool to develop some field knowledge about the topic. We located photos of Great Barrier Reef creatures on Flickr to consider copyright issues and the Internet. We used Kim Michelle Toft’s One less Fish, and some non fiction titles about the Great Barrier Reef, integrating location skills and strategies for using books with gathering information for our genre model. We studied a gorgeous picture book Food Chain (PJ Robertson), to reinforce discussion of the threats to the Great Barrier Reef, and completed a concept map on the IWB with links to the genre model of the Environmental Impact Study. And we used Jigsaw Planet to create our own jigsaw puzzles. Our lessons in the Library were seen as a complement to classroom activities where children were preparing to write their own environmental impact study of a local area, Nudgee Beach.

Another example: Year 4 teachers wanted their students to learn how to find fiction without using computers. We used the mapping tool from Easiteach on a map of the Library to locate various types of Fiction, including popular fiction, picture books for big kids, chapter books, and Junior Fiction, and considered why these collections were shelved differently. We looked at the way fiction titles are organised, and used the IWB to manipulate location labels, and to devise our own labels for brand new titles (which also introduced children to the new titles). Another lesson centred on the speed dating strategy of selection of an appealing title, and students completed a concept map on the IWB to highlight criteria for selecting appropriate fiction. Students were able to demonstrate their understanding of the location and selection of fiction through the use of a Survey created in SurveyMonkey on the internet.
Then, to fit in with classroom work on the postcard genre, we used a wonderful picture book for big kids, Alison Lester’s Are we there yet? as a springboard to the genre of postcard, along with the Read Write Think website to develop an interactive postcard, and we used a copyright free image of Uluru to create a jigsaw at the Jigsaw Planet site. Finally, we used some of the information from Letters from Felix (Annette Langen) and the concept map from Easiteach to talk about different aspects of life in various countries, and some maps from Interact to locate countries within continents.

At the same time, I worked with all Year 1 classes in weekly Orientation sessions, on some basic Information literacy skills (the location of picture books, alpha order, borrowing rules, locating their name in the borrowing book) and introduced the children to using the IWB. We also had story time where students listened to some picture books such as Library Lion, David gets in Trouble, and Parsley Rabbit’s Book about Books, with some illustrations highlighted on the IWB for in-depth discussion. We also created our own books of Library Rules using Microsoft’s Ebook Reader.

And then there is my role in delivering professional development opportunities to teachers. I believe this is made possible because of their recognition of my expertise as a TEACHER. As well as the annual presentation of a 13 week PD programme in Intel, and formal PD on the use of the IWB software, I see my work with classes as an opportunity to teach the teachers how to use the newly installed interactive whiteboards, and for me to demonstrate the effective integration of ICTs in the curriculum.

As to the other aspect of my dual training: My training and experience as a librarian means that I am able to manage the library effectively as well, in the limited time available for that part of the job. While I am teaching 17 classes a week – some 420 students- the library is expected to function efficiently. This is where my training and experience in LIBRARIANSHIP is of paramount importance. I have been able to establish systems in the library that allow my (untrained) teacher- aide, and seven volunteers (recruited through an online advertisement) to continue the back room work in my absence. It is my responsibility to train all my volunteers, and their work must be closely monitored, but without their help, the library would not be able to process the $40,000 worth of resources purchased each year.

And this is where we come back to the teaching experience: because of my training and experience as a TEACHER, and my collaboration with teachers, and involvement in curriculum planning meetings, I am well placed to select resources appropriate to the curriculum, and to be able to promote those resources to teachers. I can assess the relevance of resources – print or electronic- and see immediately where they fit with the curriculum in our school, so that we have a well-balanced, appropriate, relevant resource collection that is heavily used- with 10,000 items on loan at any given time.

I believe then that it is crucial to employ professional staff to manage our school libraries, experienced TEACHERS with additional qualifications in LIBRARIANSHIP.
And we need to be supported by adequately trained library assistants, in sufficient numbers. There is an urgent need for an appropriate model for staffing numbers in school libraries- the Queensland model indicates a primary school of 300 is entitled to one fulltime Teacher-librarian (though this staffing ratio has been severely eroded in the last 10 years). There is no indicative staffing for support roles in libraries, and no recognition of the need for additional staffing in libraries for schools over 300.

29 04 2010
Lesley Abrahams

Why do not PRINCIPALS see the relevance of teacher-librarians to literacy and digital literacy?
1. Maybe they have experienced schools with untrained personnel so are unaware that a trained TEACHER-LIBRARIAN can deliver a VALUE ADDED service.
2. Team-teaching is not embraced by all teachers in every faculty, and so the number of teachers assisting with reporting the gains to students is limited in some situations.
3. Not aware of the base standards for school libraries to perform their brief to deliver literacy, numeracy, and information skills across all areas of the school.

Not all principals are unaware or unsupportive. I have worked with over 20 principals, and most of these have been very supportive, and demanding, and appreciative when the Library programme is delivering a proactive service for the school curriculum.

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