Reading some research for my assignment this morning I came across an interesting article concerning developing respect and support as a TL. Oberg, Dianne. (2006) Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33 (3) 13-18.
It links very closely to the reaction I have had when telling peole that I’m going to be the TL. Yet again this weekend I had another “What? You wanted a change. Couldn’t you have thought of something better?” I find myself trying to justify my position as people look at me incredulously.
After reading the above article I think I know realise why they are reacting in the way they do. Within the article Hartzell, G ( 2002) The principal’s perception of school libraries and teacher librarians. School Libraries Worldwide, 8(1), 92-110 states that when information is limited people tend to rely on stereotypes to make judgements. Well within British state primary schools teacher librarians are a rare breed indeed and therefore information will be very limited. People will rely upon the images of librarians within the media which to be honest are rarely modern or flattering. Few of my friends and colleagues will have had any opportunity to learn about the role of the TL and therefore make assumptions. As Oberg states that some principals believe that ” libraries are basically warehouses, that teacher-librarians are fussy introverts whose important role is selecting and circulating materials, and that teacher-librarians are not leaders or proactive educators but service providers who merely respond to teacer or student requests. ” pg 13 Well I also think that many of the teachers I know, particularly those that were trained in the UK think this too. I think initially my thoughts may also have been on a similar level, however the more I read about the role and what the expectations of the job are the more my beliefs have change.
Oberg also states that teacher librarian’s suffer from this image problem because they are occupational invisible. Firstly because they tend to be isolated by working in another part of the school and in many cases work different hours because they wish to increase access to the library. For example; my intention is to open the library breaks and lunch times to enable children to change books when they want rather than in lesson time. This will mean that getting to the staffroom at break will be a challenge unless we can get the LC put on the duty rota. She also believes they are invisible because ” the nature of their work involves empowering others, and building relationships with other educators-including the principal …Teacher librarians also tend to be invisible because of their low profile in the educational literature. ” pg 14
Few have had the opportunity to learn about the role of the TL as either a leader or a teacher and in many cases, in the UK, have had little exposure to working with one as either an educator or a student. So what next? How can this be tackled? Well I believe it has to be part of the TL’s role to tackle this. The TL has to ensure that the principal is aware of the important role they play within school. They need to build their credibility by ensuring that they are well qualified and knowledgeable about both education and teacher librarianship.The TL has to work with classroom teachers to improve the quality of learning and teaching and have a positive impact upon both students and the school community. The library should not be invisible and the TL has to ensure that it is the hub of learning and that all students are drawn into the hub. They need to promote the activities and learning experiences that are happening within the library and let everyone know about them. No ease task I’m sure but all goals that should be aimed for if a TL wishes to run an exemplary program that improves learning for the students within school.