Critical synthesis. Assignment 2 Part C ETL401

A critical synthesis of my reflection on how my view of the role of the teacher librarian may have changed during the subject.

Word count 823

Over the last 3 months my views concerning the role of the teacher librarian have changed markedly. For the past 23 years I have been a classroom teacher. However, despite having worked in international schools, I had never worked with a teacher librarian.

When I took on the role of  teacher librarian in August, before I had completed much work on ETL401, I did not have a concrete idea about what the job entailed. It seemed like a good move and something exciting. I wanted to learn new skills and enjoyed books and teaching children to read.  I had a limited view and although knew there was more to the role I wasn’t  sure what that was. I was also concerned with the feedback and views of others on my new role. Where I had expected congratulations I was faced with stereotyping. (Gilchrist, 2010. June 17) Through my readings, the forum postings and assignment one I realised that the role was considerably wider than I had first anticipated.

Whilst assignment  one  challenged me, it also helped synthesis my thinking and enabled me to grasp the idea of an information literate school community and the teacher librarian’s role within it. Particularly useful for someone new to teacher librarianship was Herring’s work. (2004) and I used this initially to help create a bigger picture. (Gilchrist, 2010. July 6) It was through this that I was able to identify 3 key roles; educator, information manager and expert advisor. Herring’s blog (2010) was also a useful resource when trying to understand the concept and I found I regularly read his postings.

On receiving feedback on my first assignment it was obvious that I had failed to realise that the teacher librarian also had a role in educating the principal. Barbara Braxton, my assignment marker, ( personal communication, September 2010) noted  that many principals’ have never heard of the concept of an information literate school community or even understand the role and it is therefore the role of the teacher librarian to educate them, an area that I had not considered.  In my eagerness to show that I knew about  the importance of leadership and collaboration  I underestimated the roles of information services manager and specialist. The comments and feedback on assignment one helped push my understanding and I now feel more confident expressing what the role is and how I can go some way to achieving it.

The readings by Lance et al, (2005) and  Todd and Kulhthau, (2003) helped to ensure that I understood the central role of collaboration and really reinforced the idea that teacher librarians are teachers first. Before assignment one I had not realised that collaboration was so important. This was reinforced by the readings for assignment two on the ASLA and ALIA (2004) standards. Collaboration had become important to me and this was noted in a number of  blog postings. (Gilchrist, 2010, August 2, 21, 31, September  1, 18) Previous to ETL401 I had no real understanding as to why my principal was insisting that I team teach in the library. I thought it was because she wanted to prevent the other staff having non-contact time and to keep me busy. This may actually be the reason, I still don’t know, however, it has worked to my advantage.Now I know I am attempting to  make a difference to the children’s learning by working collaboratively on units, being involved in planning and spending time talking about how we can improve learning. Making a difference to children’s learning outcomes is at the heart of the role and this term’s work for ETL401 has made me realise this.

Feedback on assignment one has highlighted what next steps I may need to take. My addressing of the obstacle in assignment 1 was just above satisfactory and so this is an area that needs further work. I need to ensure that I know how to use Web tools in innovative ways, need to find useful research that would relate directly to my school situation and know how to engage the principal as an ally. (Barbara Braxton, my assignment marker, personal communication, September 2010) I obviously have more reading to do in this area.

ET401 has played a pivotal role in my understanding of the role of a teacher librarian. I have gain an understanding of the multi-faceted role and what standards are in place to help guide me to be an excellent practitioner. The readings and modules helped structure my learning and through participation in the forums, and the use of my blog as a metacognitive tool,  my knowledge and understanding have been enhanced. It has been interesting to be part of an information literate community in which sharing of information has happened and this has led to the creation of knowledge. (Gilchrist forum posting, 2010) I now have aspirational goals and  some idea about how to take these forward. I look forward to learning more.


Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), (2004). Library standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians.

Gilchrist, S. (2010, June 17). What’s with the image? Message posted to

Gilchrist, S. (2010, July 6). The role of the TL again… Message posted to

Gilchrist, S. (2010, August 2). The role of the TL in facilitating collaborative efforts. Message posted to

Gilchrist, S. (2010, August 4). Re: Is the school library media program the same as an ILSC? Message posted to ETL401 assignment 1 sub-forum.

Gilchrist, S. (2010, August 21) Feeling positive. Message posted to

Gilchrist, S. (2010, August 31) Collaboration. Message posted to

Gilchrist, S. (2010, September 1) Amazing. Message posted to

Gilchrist, S. (2010, September 18) Sharing. Message posted to

Herring, J. (2004) The internet and information skills: A guide for teachers and school librarians. London, Facet Publishing.

Herring, J. (2010) Jame’s Herring’s blog access from

Lance, K. Rodney, M. & Hamilton-Pennell, C. (2005) Powerful libraries make powerful learners: The Illinois study retrieved 13/8/10 from

Todd, R. and Kulhthau, C.(2003) Student learning through Ohio school libraries. Background methodology and report findings. Retrieved 13/8/10


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