We are looking forward to meeting this week in our Fall 2010 TL Update sessions with our 100+ full- or part-time TLs. What will we focus on to help ensure your school library program gets off to a good start? Check out the next 5 blog entries.
We have more than 25 staffing changes in our school libraries and face new and important challenges in starting up the school library and building its essential program.
I have appreciated the mentoring I have had from the "chatelaines" of VSB school libraries in preparing an agenda for our meetings of what they see as important enough for us to come together to learn. Thanks, Michele, Linda, Wendy, and Maryann! Your input helps to make order for us out of the uncertainties and complexity of the shifting world as it translates and is translated into school libraries.
Role of the TL Mentor
The TL Mentor position has less time available for TL support than the full-time TL Consultant position. With one "block" on Day 2s or mentoring days being my prep block, you will need to consider there is 75% of every second day for "our work" -- or, put in other words, unfortunately you will need to expect some severe limitations to the capacity of this position. Check the schedule for Day 1/Day 2 dates and expect a one-day delay if you are contacting me on my Day 1.
The Mentor position differs from the consultant's in the degree of focus. My work as your consultant was driven by The Haycock Report and the goal of improving student access to important resources. It required the development of an interactive website (so you got the blog and wiki) as well as a more responsive Digital Library. It included, of course, the Pro D piece and consultative support for TLs. As TL Mentor, the mandate is to ensure the effective use of print and digital resources, as well as effective integration of technology with teaching and learning, to prepare TLs for changes in the nature of resources and learning and enhance our capacity to support both teaching and learning in the 21st century. While TL Mentor needs to be flexible in responding to the needs of the field and to do some on-site mentoring, there will have to be a more contained focus on the scope of work as professional development and on using the Churchill "demonstration library." See the difference?
As some of you know because you are there "in class" with me, I am also a sessional instructor, teaching LLED 469 "Resource-based Teaching" online, for UBC this term. This is a new facet of my career and will be a wonderful opportunity not only to teach what I strongly believe in but also to learn to use the online environment for teaching. So far, Week 1 under way, I am enjoying the new challenge.
TLs and their Dispositions:
Interesting Results of a Recent Study
From Michele, notice of an important new study -- Exploration to Identify Professional Dispositions of School Librarians: A Delphi Study, by Gail Bush and Jami L. Jones, professors from universities in the eastern US.
What do you need to know about this study? Why is this important? The Delphi method seeks "expert knowledge" (in this case, members of the editorial boards of five field journals including SLJ and TL, or "oracles," as suggested by the name of the method) of leaders in the field, both scholars and practitioners. This study group included 2 Canadians, one being Michele. Unlike a focus group which might solicit and encourage shared understandings, the Delphi method initially sought individual independent responses to the request to identify and prioritize important dispositions for TLs; when compiled, these dispositions are shared amongst the group for response and ordering/combining.
First, the term dispositions needs a little consideration. It is an American term being used in their new curriculum standards to describe desired and characteristic patterns of student thinking and acting; in this study, the same notion that one might expect dispositions as in AASL "standards in action" for student learning (copies in every Vancouver school library) is considered for educators. That is, educators provide modelling of the student-learning dispositions. Dispositions identified by the NCTAF for "effective teachers [are that they] integrate content knowledge with pedagogical understanding to ensure that all students learn at high levels." Dispositions of effective teachers included being reflective, understanding diversity, collaborating to advocate for children, using a variety of instructional strategies, and so on.
The study is also underpinned with the notion that "teacher quality is vital to student learning and achievement" and that strong school library programs and qualified TL support are implicit in standards for student learning. There is some discomfort with the notion of identifying TL dispositions for their subjectivity and their proximity to ideas about evaluation, but it was deemed desirable to have TLs identify the vision or ideal of TL dispositions themselves, as a "compass" for TL education and professional development.
OK, so what is it we need to know from the results, and what does this tell Canadian TLs? Perhaps most importantly, the study makes a very clear statement that TLs need to be recognized for their quality teaching from a distinctly school library perspective:
These dispositions encompass the school library writ large, both the physical environment and the twenty-first-century networking environments. It has a societal context that provides for a learning environment where inquiry reigns, access is universal, and minds meet to construct new understandings. School librarians have a unique position as an instructional partner who integrates learning through all curricula and engages with students throughout their tenure in a school ....
This longitudinal relationship with both the student and the curriculum establishes a fundamental engagement shared by each student as he or she journeys through the school .... [TLs] help transform intellectual character as [they] focus on ... learners in a developmental approach .... The school librarian is a constant in the learning environment of the student over time, unlike the classroom teacher who knows a learner for approximately 185 days throughout one school year. The school librarian not only focuses on integrating content in the curriculum but also focuses on the learner, on guiding and influencing an openness to new ideas and ways of making meaning, of critical and creative thinking, of building on the knowledge of the student as learner throughout each developmental stage. Here the library becomes a way of learning rather than a physical or virtual space -- it becomes embedded in the life of a student's mind as the student has access over time to changing resources depending on discipline and developmentally appropriate resource allocation.
In short, while there was also amongst the "oracles" a "sinking feeling" that the current reality of TL'ship is still far from the ideal, there was real delight that "teacher" was widely held to be the most important aspect of the work. Work needs to be done to design and implement "signature pedagogies" for teacher-librarians and "build on this study to further crystallize a robust vision of school librarianship."
Can't help but think this is what James Henri's directive to us three summers ago to "meet teachers in curriculum" meant! Oracle Henri!