Blog Task # 2
Comment on the role of the teacher librarian (TL) in practice with regard to principal support.
TLs often see principal support as vital to their own role, but too frequently only expect and get minimal support (Oberg, 2006, p. 13). Because Principals have a role in schools to build the future direction of education through the empowerment of and collaboration with staff and partners, through planning and resource allocation, and dealing with issues affecting the school community, and as it is they who control the school’s allocation of resources, it is vital for the TL to gain the support of their Principal (Oberg, 2006, p. 13; Hartzell, 2003, p. 93). Accordingly, part of the TLs role is to develop principal support if it does not come naturally.
It is clear from the literature that principal support is beneficial to TLs and thus schools. For example, in Indiana, a study showed that students achieved higher learning outcomes when the school principal valued the TL, met regularly with them, understood their role and involved them in school committees (‘School’, 2008, p. 12). Furthermore, Principals who are involved in TL programs speak positively of them and of the TL’s role (Oberg, 2006, p. 15). In Australia, studies on supportive Principals have shown they are happy to support TLs and treat them as leaders if they met the expectations set by them: developing the information literacy of students and staff, providing a future plan of the library’s services and programs that meet school goals, and to develop their own skills to be informational leaders within the school (Oberg, 2006, p. 15).
The ways in which a Principal may support the school library include that they take an interest, supervise staff and support programs, and mentor staff to highlight the importance of the library and the TL’s role (Oberg, 2006, p. 14). I particularly like Oberg’s (2006, p. 14) idea that if Principals are teachers as well, then they can model the importance of library programs by including them in their own teaching practices.
TLs have a role to effectively participate in two-way communication with principals and help the school reach its goals (Oberg, 2006, p. 16). Accordingly TLs need to support the Principal in realising the interconnectedness of school goals, library programs and information literacy (Oberg, 2006, p. 16). My mother is a primary school teacher in a remote Indigenous school in the NT, and as there is no TL or library program, she takes her class to the library each week to model reading and literacy. This pursuit is beneficial to the students and something they all look forward to, but gets no formal recognition from the Principal nor support in the way of the Principal becoming actively involved. The value of the library is overlooked as a centre to support learning. What I hope to highlight here is that in some cases there are no TLs, and teachers need to take on their role to a degree so as to widen the experiences of students, and they need principal support to help this catch on and become the norm.
Hartzell, G. (2003). Building Influence for the School Librarian: Tenets, Targets, & Tactics, 2nd Ed. Ohio: Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), pp. 13 – 18.
School Libraries Work!, 3rd Edition. (2008). Scholastic Library Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/content/collateral_resources/pdf/s/slw3_2008.pdf