Quality management… the principles.

Streeton Primary School (2000. The 12 quality principles. In Q is for quality: continuous improvement in schools through quality management and quality learning ( pp12-24). Yallambie, Vic.: Streeton Primary School.

An interesting an easy read this one. I like the way it lays out very clearly what is necessary for a school, or any organisation for that matter, to be one of quality.

Yet again, principle 1, VISION and a clear shared objective lays at its heart. ( Clear direction allows organisational alignment and a focus on the achievement of goals) Over and over this comes through the reading. My school has a vision which I think is very clear, powerful, concise and memorable however I’m not sure that we can all explain the meaning behind the statements. What does ‘Empowering learners to make a difference’ really look like? What is a difference? Is it a difference to their own learning by becoming independent? Is it making a difference to their community, both local and global? Is it all of these? How will we know we have achieved this? What do we have to do to empower ourselves as a learner or the children as learners? How do we measure it? I like the fact that all members of our community were invited to contribute to the vision and that we as a community have a sense of ownership over it, we just need to be a bit clearer.

This leads into principle 2 ( Mutually agreed plans translate organisational direction into actions) as we need a team approach, a team approach with a planned approach. Everyone has a vision and a plan including the students. I like this idea as without this planned approach how do we ensure sustainable improvements. The plans need to be shared. If they are not shared and owned by one person, be it the class teacher or the principal, these can quickly fall apart or become lost in amongst the other plans.

Principle 3 ensures that children and their learning are put at the heart of any school as it is the client. (Quality and value are defined by the client) If their needs are identified then they are easier to meet. Talking, having open communication, listening and collaboration ensures that teachers, parents and students have more learning oriented experiences or programs.

Principle 4 (To improve the outcome, improve the system and its associated processes) Schools have many systems however they are not always effective. In order to make them more effective the whole system needs to be analysed first before changes are made. Children within class need to be given the opportunity to improve systems. If systems have good processes with clear steps this strengths relationships between people.

Principle 5 speaks for itself…. the potential of an organisation is realised through it’s people’s enthusiasm, resourcefulness and participation. STEP UP! People should be employed based on attitude. Those who have little enthusiasm or motivation to keep improving should not be employed as they threaten staff morale. Schools, or any organisation need positive enthusiastic people who want to learn and to move the organisation forward. Positives are celebrated, be it small steps in learning or staff acknowledging the help of others.

Principle 6 ( Continual improvement and innovation depend on continual learning) Everyone is a learner and learning never stops. Schools should provide quality PD, staff should be encouraged to participate in conferences, take on further study and sharing of learning with others. Students should learn form each other too through class meeting/ circle time, the identification of experts within the class and talking partners or buddies.

Principle 7 ( All people work in a system, outcomes are improved when people work on the system) This all depends on the enthusiasm of the most valuable asset, the people within the organisation. If the relationships between people are positive the systems are more likely to succeed. Team work is the preferred way of working using the shared vision and values.

Principle 8 is all about using facts and data to move things forward. If we have data and facts then this knowledge can be used to help make improved decisions. Surveys, questionnaires, registers,observations all give us data that we can use to help make decisions.

Principle 9 acknowledges that systems vary. this needs to be monitored over time to ensure that systems do not degenerate but are either maintained or improved.

Principle 10 acknowledges the value that the organisation adds to the community and the impact it has upon it. The school/organisation is not working in isolation but is part of the community. The actions of the school/organisation has an impact on the environment and the people within it.

Principle 11 identifies that only if we are able to meet the needs of all our children and stake-holders we become sustainable. Our sustainability is determined by this ability.

And finally…. principle 12, that leaders need to be a constant role model for these principles. They need to create a supportive environment where these principles are held in high regard and members of the organisation are encouraged to reach their potential.

So just 12 principles…. how easy could it be?

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Reasons for reading and a trip to the library.

Having lived for 8 years in a country where there appeared to be no real library service that I could access it was with joy and real interest that I walked down the hill to join the public library today. It was swift, it was easy and thoroughly painless. I had forgotten the pleasure of wandering the shelves soaking it all in. I had forgotten how much pleasure I got from simply being there amongst all those other people who were reading or online, who were browsing, chatting (quietly) and in some cases sleeping. I can’t say I got the feeling that it was a library of the future, there was no collaborating that I could see, no real creating going on and certainly no eating or mobile devices. The on-line section was quite limited with no English fiction but it was still a great trip. I had forgotten how lovely it is to think you can take the books home with you. You can try something new and not feel guilt about deciding it’s not for you or you can uncover a gem that you might want to keep longer.

Talking of which, whilst I was there I had a look at the collection based around school libraries. Not particularly extensive but it did have a few texts that I think I will be exploring in the future. One that I brought home was Twenty first century kids. Twenty first century librarians. Walters, V.A. (2010) I particularly liked the chapter on the children we serve. Walters challenges her students to come up with the top 10 reasons for children to read fine literature. So I thought I’d set myself that challenge. I’ve got 11 but there are probably a lot more out there.

Top 11 reasons to read.
1. Reading is enjoyable and can bring joy and delight.
2. Reading gives us a global community. It keeps your own identity alive whilst describing people and lands outside your frame of reference.
3. Reading enables us to access information and to learn about whatever we are interested in.
4. Reading forms bonds between parents, guardians, caregivers and children. It can do the same between adults through discussion and book clubs.
5. Reading enables people of any age to make time for themselves.
6. Reading develops vocabulary, giving us words to think with and to manipulate. (Walters, V.A. 2010)
7. Reading gives you something to do on those boring journeys, when you are ill or on those rainy days.
8. Reading gives us power.
9. Reading fosters the ability to focus and concentrate.
10. Reading fosters the imagination encouraging us to make pictures in our heads.
11. Reading gives us stories to make sense of the world and our own lives.

Now whether this reading is done online, with a book or with an e-reader or other mobile device I really don’t care. I don’t feel the need to keep the paper book or see the e-reader taking over completely. What does interest me though is whether will we always need to read. In the future will there ever be a time that reading is marginalised? a time when we don’t need the skill because we will have developed other forms of communication that will take over.
Hmmm more thinking required.

Quality management

So what is it?
Quality management is a way of organising people so that they approach tasks with enthusiasm and take part in improving the work that gets done. Once again collaboration is ranked highly and seen as vital if this type of management is going to succeed. Everything that is done links to the vision and mission of the organisation and the people employed are seen to be the ones who give the organisation its edge above everything else. Innovation and a futures perspective are important whilst the greater good and self-interest should be served simultaneously. Teams as well as individuals are recognised and everyone is given the capacity to manage their relationships and processes within the oragnisation. Managers are LEADERS and motivate others to make positive meaningful contributions because they believe what they are doing is important to society or the enterprise. Everyone feels like a winner.

This obviously transfers to the education system.
Quality in education is what makes learning so good. It makes it fun, enjoyable and ensures learning happens. Exams and competition may place pressure upon the individual to learn but this does not build a life long independent learner, it is the experience that counts. Quality at one age is different to that at another, therefore students need to be constantly and appropriately engaged if they are going to fall in love with learning. Quality is not about the fixtures and fittings, however nice or desirable they may be, but about the teaching and learning process and how it is carried forward. I therefore disagree with Stephen Heppell when he says a turned off device is a turned off child. Learning should be driving not the tools. I don’t discount that the tools are very motivating and that in itself is reason enough to have them, but however great the tools, if the teaching is poor and the learner disinterested then no learning other than damaging learning will occur.

Focus should be placed upon the learning and teaching process and not upon exams and the end product. Tests provide a brief pressure to learn but do not ensure independent life long learning. This had implications for assessment and the children’s/students role within it. How much should be negotiated or co-constructed? Do we need exams? What would we use instead?

The collaborative process is vital for learning. All students should be seen as teachers and learners. By taking part in collaborative experiences social skills are developed, knowledge is shared and the idea that team work is essential to success is developed.

Collection mapping. Be afraid, be very afraid.

So assignment two states that I need to evaluate the nature of the collection. So I have happily trawled through the lot. Well I knew that it was going to be quite bad but I am appalled.  I’ve spent a considerable time weeding this term and accessioning new books however the collection is still very dated and imbalanced. We have books on our shelves that were published in the 1960s! Not many but still…

Vision

If one thing is standing out in my limited reading so far it is vision. It seems that without a vision you can not be an excellent leader. Well this does make sense as if you don’t know where you are going then how can you get there? So I had a think and decided to try, in 5 minutes on the back of an envelope, to clarify what my vision is for our school library.

1. Our school library will be a vibrant learning environment that is used by the school community and valued for it’s impact on learning.

2. It will provide the resources that teachers, students and the curriculum needs, just in time, for learning. Providing a collection that reflects the needs and wants of the students and teachers.

3. Every student will be able to effectively and efficiently access the quality information they need.

4. Every student will be able to read. This goal will be pursued relentlessly by all staff within the school.

5. The library will be regarded as having a presence amongst the community; both in a traditional form and digitally.

6. A wide variety of IT tools will be made available and learning will drive their use.

7. All children will want to spend time in the library for a variety of academic and recreational reasons.

8. It will reflect our international community and all children will be able to see themselves reflected in some of our materials.

9. There will be free access to information.

I’m sure there must be more. It will be interesting to see if this changes as the modules develop or if my ideals remain the same and how I approach them differs.
Consideration also needs to be paid to how this vision can be shared with others within the school and to ensure that we all have the same vision. If we don’t then once again how can we be expected to arrive in the same place if we are all travelling in different directions.

Teacher librarian as a leader, reading one ETL504

Leadership for teacher librarians is surely no different from any other leader. Leadership is leadership. All successful leaders need; technical competence, conceptual skills ( ethical use of information, organisation, access and confidentiality), people skills, the ability to make decisions promptly ( to make judgements) and inspire to a set of beliefs such as commitment of confidentiality, affirmation of intellectual property and open and equal access to information.

Leaders also need to know the limits of their influence and not try to stretch themselves beyond their sphere of influence. By doing this the teacher librarian is enable to look for solutions within by listening to concerns from teachers and children. Having a belief that the power to make things work is an internal thing and you are not reliant on others makes the leader proactive and engenders a can do attitude.
To be a great TL you need to ensure that you have a full understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses. Using strengths can ensure that the program will be great in some areas and then you work at being great in the areas that are not as strong. A great TL also needs to be passionate. perhaps not passionate about every aspect, but to identify what they are passionate about and use that to inspire and enthuse students, colleagues and themselves.
A clear vision is a necessity and this must be shared, concrete, in terms of people knowing what the vision looks like and have clarity; that those that have to carry it out know how to carry it out and do so.
To do this the TL needs to collaborate, have good technical skills which are grounded in the conceptual understandings mentioned above.
“When the best leaders work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves’ Lao Tzu, Chinese Taoist philosopher . You must work collegiately with others, leading more often through influence. This means establishing expertise, working well with others, articulating ideas clearly and doing what you say you will plus continually reflecting and assessing. To be regarded as having expertise the TL must be constantly learning to expand and update their knowledge and expertise.
To lead from the middle you need to volunteer to be involved in curriculum groups and be prepared to be a resourcer to any one that needs information .
You must have vision and this vision must be measured against standards of performance. Opportunities must be seized as they are presented and enthusiasm shared .

Donham, J. (2005) Leadership. In Enhancing teaching and learning: a leadership guide for school library media specialists (2nd ed.) (pp. 295-305). New York: Neal-Schulman Publishers

Assignment 2 ETL 503

Results are finally here. After a very shaky assignment 1 in which I feel I picked the wrong curriculum area and had real trouble selecting resources assignment 2 proved to be more positive so I will be moving onto the next subject.
I had felt very uncertain at the beginning of this assignment as my confidence had been shaken. I had passed the previous one but it was not a strong piece of work. I had to do much better in this assignment to try and maintain the positive start I had had in ETL501.

Initially I had no idea what writing a collection policy involved and what sort of information needed to be included. The modules provided vast amounts of information but this seemed to make me feel anxious rather than confident as there seemed to be an unending list of information to digest. The Kennedy (2006) text although constructive was not particularly accessible and so I focused my reading on Bishop (2007).

It was here that my knowledge began to grow. I found the text gave me a very detailed overview into selection criteria. This combined with the work of Hughes-Hassell & Mancall (2005) provided me with both general and learner centered selection criteria. I felt that by combining them I would have an all encompassing view which would aid selection and provide clear guidelines upon which to base purchases.

Bishop (2007) on evaluation of the collection prompted me to begin the process in my own library and recognise its worth. I had not realised there were ways that this could be done and only wished i had known about collection mapping earlier. It is now proving to be very useful as it has given me strength to argue the case for further funding from the PTA and the Head was impressed that I could provide this kind of data to back up collection development. My library looks very well resourced but we have some very large gaps that need filling and a lot of items that need to be deselected. this enables me to do this in a professional and accountable way.
The feedback was comprehensive and very helpful. It will help me to edit my collection policy for the better and include more reference to digital items and teacher support. I knew that was important but with the word limit had cut sections that I would have preferred to leave in.
I now need to consider….
Will the collection be increasingly digitalised?
What are the school and library goals?
What are the decisions that need to be made in order to move the collection and the library forward?

References
Bishop, K. The collection program in schools: Concepts, practices and information sources. (4th ed.) Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.
Hughes-Hassell, S. & Mancall J.C. (2005) Collection management for Youth: Responding to the needs of learners. Chicago: American Libraries Association.
Kennedy, J. (2007) Collection management: A concise introduction. (2nd ed.) Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

On another note our new cataloging system is up and running. We are figuring out how to use it and the children have access from home and the classroom…a step forward digitally! We have also subscribed to Biguniverse which is giving us a very strong online presence amongst our community and is providing a great inquiry tool for our students and teachers. With the help of Gregor the Overlander and Skulduggery Pleasant we seem to be attracting some more boys and there is definitely a buzz around the place. Now we need to consider ereaders and how we might use them and use the collection map to really focus our spending…happy days!