Throughout my readings and writings for ETL504 to date my understanding of leadership and its application in a school library context has continued to evolve.
A poignant moment came for me upon hearing that a teacher-librarian will only be a successful leader if they understand the school structure system, and where they fit in it (Bales, 2016). This is not something I had deeply considered, made quite obvious in an earlier blog post which outlined my failed attempt to start a school recycling program (Coussins, 2016, March 22). School hierarchies need to be understood, and having the principal onside is clearly important. Building strong collaborative partnerships with influential and respected teachers is only going to help with this. Being able to utilise the skills and experience of others who understand and value your vision is vital (Aguilar, 2012). This means regular collaboration. It’s just so obvious, and a shame that I wasn’t awake to it with my plan for school recycling. These are not the sorts of errors I want to be repeating as a future teacher-librarian.
Don Tapscott’s video presentation also had a big impact on me (TED, 2012). Although it wasn’t a speech directed specifically at aspiring teacher-librarians, it felt that way. Tapscott spoke of the importance of collaboration, transparency, the sharing of assets and intellectual property and the distribution of it to create empowerment. If you want to take hold of these opportunities in your professional life can there be a more suitable career than a teacher-librarian? I can’t think of one.
Putting these open world principles of Tapscott into practice also offers a very clear opportunity to project to all staff just what the teacher-librarian can do. In my experience few teachers really understand the role and capabilities of the teacher-librarian. Imagine a teacher-librarian who can truly grasp and display the power of skills in collaboration, facilitating the sharing of assets, knowledge, empowerment, and so on. Would there be a staff member left to question the value of teacher-librarians?
Furthermore, no staff member should miss out on being exposed to what their teacher-librarian can do for them. As Levitov (2015) points out, the teacher-librarian is among the few staff members that directly works alongside all school staff and students, giving them a unique school-wide leadership perspective.
The wide ranging leadership opportunities available to the teacher-librarian has been a revelation to me. However, I do think the teacher-librarian needs to recognise these opportunities and consciously act to take hold of them. This is in contrast to the view I expressed on the ETL504 discussion forum. Here I talked of how the decision to show leadership can be both conscious or sub-conscious (Coussins, 2016, March 11). I’m not sure I see things that way now. No doubt the words and behaviours you express can influence people. However, to be a true form of leadership I think a conscious decision has to be made to lead. Bush (2008, p.277) identifies intention as a key aspect in defining what leadership is. I can now see this.
When I think about the breadth of leadership opportunities available to a teacher-librarian I’m excited about my future career. I look forward to consciously grasping and using them for the betterment of the library, as well as the entire school community.
Aguilar, E. (2012, November 28). Effective teams: The key to transforming schools? Edutopia: What works in education. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teacher-teams-transform-schools-elena-aguilar
Bales, J. (2016). Online meeting assessment 1 recording . Retrieved from https://connect.csu.edu.au/p1uztvc9acw/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal
Bush, T. (2008). From management to leadership: Semantic or Meaningful change? Educational Management, Administration and Leadership 36(2): 271-288. doi: 10.1177/1741143207087777
Coussins, J. (2016, March 11). What is leadership? – My understanding. [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&forum_id=_42379_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_18171_1&course_id=_11861_1&message_id=_538150_1#msg__538150_1Id
Coussins, J. (2016, March 22). Bringing innovation and teamwork together. [Online blog post]. Retrieved from: https://librarylandscape.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/bringing-innovation-and-teamwork-together/
TED. (2012, June 28). Don Tapscott: Four principles for the open world. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfqwHT3u1-8