How does the TL make decisions on how to divide their time?
By deciding what is important right now.
I am the only TL in my school, but I am also the Computer Coordinator. I need to prioritise my tasks and separate my positions if I am to fulfill both my roles. I balance my RFF, admin and computer-coordinator release time to ensure that I am allocating time to the role that has the most pressing needs. If a new unit of work is starting and I need to design a display, collaborate with staff, and build up resources; then this will receive more time than, say, cleaning smartboard filters or de-fragmenting a slow laptop. If a new T4L order has come in then I can dedicate my time to setting up the new computers over, say, checking my junior fiction section for crayon scrawlings. If I can keep abreast of upcoming events in my school I can plan my time accordingly.
The idea of being “unperfect (sic)” is one that is not new to me, but it is one that I have not previously seen written down as a recommendation. Seeing this on “Effective Time Management For Teachers” site gave me some significant food for thought. Trying to dedicate oneself totally to every task is exhausting and impossible to maintain. If there are times when we SHOULD give 100% then, mathematically, there should be times when we need to give 0%; times to say “No”. Defining what YOUR job entails is half the battle when planning your time.
My biggest problem/strength is my enthusiasm for pretty-much everything. I love my job and I find teaching fascinating. the downside of this enthusiasm was finding myself so tired at the end of the day that I would need a regular 4pm nap if planned to have the strength to cook dinner. I learned, recently, that in order to complete my work effectively, I needed to draw up clear lines regarding what was my job, and what was not. I did not do this is in a dramatic, kick in the staff-room door and yell, “Enough is enough!!!” kind of way. I ran one or two staff development sessions on how to solve some of the common staff problems and then I drew up some troubleshooting guides for what to do if these methods failed. It gave the staff new skills, and alleviated some of the pressure I’d placed on myself by over-dedicating.
Has the school in which you work (or know best) developed an information literacy policy?
At this stage we have no such policy in place. I have a sneaking suspicion that the development of one will fall directly to me…
Should this be an essential policy for a 21st century school?
An IL policy is unquestionably essential. There are so many different kinds of information and so many different ways to utilise this information, that a comprehensive IL policy would be needed just to help staff to recognize half of it. A good IL policy gives staff and students the tools to dismantle and ‘unpack’ the mountains of information they view on a regular basis.
How is information literacy approached in your school or experience? Do you see gaps in the approach used, and if so, where?
Information literacy is approached with varying degrees of enthusiasm in my current school. As mentioned above, there is no current IL policy so we’re all, as it were, singing from different sheets. The biggest gap I can see is that the teachers who are educating students in IL are not fully aware they are doing so. Teachers create research tasks that require students to compile and utilize print, video, images and links toward a singular presentation. The students must also learn how to operate the software and systems that will allow them to create their presentation. Then they have to publish and share their work with others. These are rich tasks, they engage students utilizing multiple media types and ICT, they educate students in the meta-literacy needed to identify and manipulate the information they have, but they fail to step back and look at the bigger picture. Teachers teach IL and expect IL, but they never point out the IL is something that can be taught. Teachers can tend to fall into the trap that Thomas (2006) points out; that some educators can mistakenly assume that because they are teaching digital natives, the students should have some latent abilities when it comes to processing complex digital information(in Lorenzo, 2007. p. 3).
How can a transliteracy approach expand the teaching role of the TL beyond the traditional information literacy paradigm?
Approaching information literacy with effective transliteracy as an over-arching goal is very important for a TL. Transliteracy gives students the ability to read and interpret the greater world around them. Considering that traditional literacy was limited to singular forms (eg print or images), this is a huge expansion. If a TL views IL as the ability to read and interpret a static text with images, then they are neglecting social literacy, video literacy, ICT literacy, and literacy in the tools that can manipulate and combine literacies. If we are to expand our roles to become educators and guides of transliteracy then we need to teach students to understand the wider social system they operate in (Ipri, 2010). Transliteracy is ‘big picture’ literacy; literacy in the systems that sit behind what we see on the surface.
We see an ad on a website.
- Traditional literacy tells us this ad is for shoes.
- Visual literacy tells us this ad is designed to be exciting because of the colours used.
- Social literacy tells us that the shoes being advertised are ‘fancy’ shoes that you could wear to a party.
- Numeric literacy tells you that you cannot afford these shoes.
- ICT literacy reminds you that that web ads are created based on personal data that websites collect about you.
- Transliteracy is being able to see this ad, realise all of this simultaneously and then find the shoes for less on another site.
Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy. College & Research Libraries News, 71(10), 532-567.
Thomas, W. in Lorenzo, G. (2007) Catalysts for Change: Information Fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the New Education Culture, Clarence Center, NY: Lorenzo Associates, Inc., March.
What Does it Mean to be Literate in the 21st Century? (n.d.). Retrieved from You tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Wn0_H-kvxkU
“Teacher Librarians suffer from occupational invisibility…” (Oberg, D. 2006)
The Teacher-Librarian (TL) is currently faced with a significant obstacle to overcome. They have entered into a profession where their role is no longer defined by the boundaries of the building they work in. TLs are expected to facilitate the development of students and faculty into efficient and effective users of information (Kaplan, 2007). But, with the sheer volume of information available to students and faculty, TLs must collaborate, now more than ever, with principals and all facets of the school community in order to receive the support they need and step out of the library into the rest of the school (Oberg. 2007).
In some circumstances, this can require significant change and upheaval of the status-quo. The individuals that, more often than not, are in a “make-or-break” position with regard to these changes (Farmer, L. 2007) are the school’s principals.
TLs can be agents of change, as Hartzell (2009) emphatically points out, the role of TL is not a formulaic one, and the incorporated role of media and information specialist can make a TL aware of new learning opportunities well before many members of staff. But, while it is possible for the TL to implement these opportunities on a one-to-one level with students or staff members, it is the principal who controls the leap from a one-off unit of work into a school-wide initiative. In order to make a much bigger impact on students learning, TLs must gain the support of the major stakeholder in the school community; the principal (Farmer, L. 2007).
No curriculum has life in and of itself – it always requires someone to breathe life into it (Hartzell, G. 2009); a program, or learning opportunity can be viewed the same way. For a TL to fulfill their role as a facilitator of information use, especially the use of new information, the must have the support of a leader or major stakeholder. A supportive principal may be able to aid the ambitions of a TL. By providing time to plan and collaborate with the TL to develop and explore new opportunities and resources, facilitating professional development for the staff to help implement new programs, or by modeling collaboration themselves, a supportive and committed principal can be crucial in developing an open and trusting professional environment (Oberg. 2006).
Collaboration involves those stakeholders who share a collective goal and work together to achieve it, (Farmer, L. 2007) TLs cannot exist in a vacuum, the multi-faceted nature of the position means that there is often little time for the TL to implement quality programs purely on their own. But, considering the collective goal of all educators is to provide opportunities for students to learn, and provide them with the means to do so, this never need be the case
Hartzell, G. (2009) ‘Librarian-proof libraries? Guest rant by Gary Hartzell’ (posted on Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk blog in 2009)
Kaplan, A. G. (2007). Is your school librarian ‘highly qualified’? Phi Delta Kappan, 89(4), 300-303.
Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56-65.
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.
Todd, R.J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement, School Library Journal.
The information profession is in a situation where, if it does not adapt to meet the needs of its clients, it will fade away. Thomas Frey points out that “The library was the center of information revered by most because each contained the foundational building blocks of information for all humanity.” Frey was referring to a time around the 15th Century, but if you can try to imagine that today: a single centre that contained building blocks of information, not just of a culture, but all of 21st Century humanity. It is simply, impossible.
Information professionals in general, and school librarians in particular, may have to give up on being a centre for all information and concentrate on the specific needs of their users. Hughes-Hassell and Mancall (2005) suggest a learner centred model where the librarian serves as a guide rather than expert. In the article on how libraries are re-inventing themselves (Berry, 2012. Part 3 of 7), this model is being adapted to serve specific needs or wants of the public.
If libraries are no longer where people seek answers, then we have to diversify to provide them with more. It is no longer possible for libraries to hold the building blocks of humanity, but maybe, if we’re clever, we can hold the building blocks of a community.
-James Thorn, 2042
As experts (Or would-be experts) in the field of information and resourcing we are often tempted to look at information in a rather sterile way, but I feel the pressing need to remind myself (and anyone reading) that EVERYTHING WE SEE OR EXPERIENCE IS INFORMATION. Every experience you have every day is informative, every little thing you do or see tells you more about the world you live in. The trend of mobile media, of instagram, twitter and the multitude of social tools is a response to people starting to believe that this information is worth sharing.
Informative experiences are coming out of people’s internal lives, and are being widely published on staggering scale. We are creating a new world, and populating it with day-to-day discoveries, revelations on every scale from the mundane to the miraculous, internal monologues, pronouncements, art, dreams and ambitions, personalities both alternate and honest, ever-updated opinions that run through all levels of intellect and experience and the entire gamut of human emotion and ALL of this, every skerrick, is information.
And we want to be information specialists?
Outside of a dog, a books is a man’s best friend. Inside a dog it’s too dark to read.
– Groucho Marx