ETL401 Assignment 2 Reflection Post

My teacher-librarian (TL) learning journey started with me deliberately and defiantly staying exactly where I was! In starting this course I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of information I was processing from the readings, and trying to cope with running the library at my school for the first time ever, that I concluded that the primary and over arching role of the TL was that of a teacher.

I now know, through a Kuhlthau reading that I was doing what George Kelly called “forming new constructs and reconstructing old ones” (Kuhlthau, 2004, p. 17). Having been a classroom teacher for over twenty years I needed to keep the pattern or frame of reference of what I knew when confronted with new experiences. I felt that teaching students and staff, contributing to student outcomes and making a difference in the way teaches taught and students learnt was the role that a TL was expected to play. Ideas and thoughts firmly rooted in my classroom teacher perspective.

Contributing to the Topic 3 Forum on “TL and the Curriculum” I was beginning to look at a bigger picture view of what the TL offered to the staff and students in a school. From planning with staff across the school and for various stage groups of students, through sharing expertise and knowledge of the curriculum K-6, to what I, as the TL, would add to the planning, I was beginning to see that the TL role encompassed more specialized knowledge and skills particularly in the are of information specialist.

The Kuhlthau reading from Module 4: Information Literacy really grabbed my attention, and impacted on my understanding of the role of the TL as information specialist (Kuhlthau, 2004). I had positioned myself in my “What sort of library?” post as aiming for an active, learner-centered library. This reading walked me through constructivist theory, which gave me confidence and background information about learning.

The exploration of information literacy and the various models, processes and definitions opened my eyes to the ways in which the TL worked with information to develop the skills and competencies in students so that learning could take place. The TL role in providing multiple perspectives, formats and types of information to both students and staff was also made clear and reflected on in my Information Literacy and The Constructive Process posts

Reading the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner document really tied up all of the aspects of the TL role neatly for me. In the Topic 4 Forum I shared how this document really positioned the learner at the centre of their learning and demonstrated how learners needed to be very proactive in their own learning.

This document also brought home to me the importance of ethical and moral use of information. Once again it was a case of a reading tying up my ideas neatly, and then enlarging or expanding my thinking and knowledge. The linking of information literacy and technology was made in a Forum 4 posting and I began thinking of how my role of TL was about “enabling [students] to make informed and positive choices in the future, [so that] we are doing what we can to ensure that whatever technologies come our way we and our students have the skills and knowledge to work with them.”

Over the ETL401 course, my knowledge and understandings about the role of the TL have grown and developed along side my knowledge and understandings of the power and pervasiveness of information. Although I am in no way ready to call myself an information specialist, I can see that this is one area that a TL must have deep knowledge and understanding in. In this information age it is necessary to ensure that all students have the skills, strategies and mindsets to be able to critically, competently and confidently navigate with information to make informed decisions. This is one of the most important roles of the TL and the one that has made the most impact on me over the semester.


Kuhlthau, C.C. (2004). Learning as a process, in Seeking meaning: A process approach to library and information services, Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.


To Do List #1

'To Do's' photo (c) 2011, Courtney Dirks - license: need to share what I am learning in this module with staff to help build up a common picture of what Information Literacy, Information Skills and Guided Inquiry are, and the benefits to students.

I need to address the “what” and “why” before we can move on to the “how” and “when”.

I need to look at best practice examples of Guided Inquiry , have opportunities to learn from these examples and then look at ways to support each other as we work together to apply this model in the school.

I need to make a great case for taking the trouble to plan and work together collaboratively, when most of the staff are used to working autonomously in their classrooms, formulating and driving their investigations in Key Learning Areas. It will be quite a challenge for some staff to see the point of information literacy skills and guided inquiries and letting go of being the sole leader in their room.

Hmmm – this is an important step in moving forward ……

Learning As A Process

'I am Here for the Learning Revolution' photo (c) 2008, Wesley Fryer - license:

Kuhlthaus’ “Learning as a Process”chapter was an important reading for me professionally.

I articulated in a recent post “What sort of library?” the aspects of the learning environment I was striving for – and then I read this chapter! The learning environment I am aiming for is constructivist, where the learning is active and dynamic.

It was enlightening and exciting to read and understand the theories explained by Kuhlthau in this chapter. I had lots of “a-ha” moments and “so that’s why!” and “I’ve seen that too” thoughts.

I will scaffold my thoughts and responses using a Visible Thinking routine called “Connect, Extend, Challenge”:

CONNECT: How are the ideas and information presented 
CONNECTED to what you already knew?
  •  learning is active and dynamic
  • students are “constructing their own personal worlds”
  • students construct their own knowledge from the information they collect
  • information seeking to broaden their understanding of the world
  • thinking and reflecting go hand in hand with learning by doing -> higher order thinking skills and metacognitive thinking. Visible thinking routines can be used to scaffold student thinking and reflection.
  • the idea that the “Problem and solution stand out completely at the same time” (Dewey quoted in Kuhlthau, 2004, p.16). Often we can see the solution to a problem at the very same time as the problem itself becomes clear, this is especially the case when researching – clarity and a sense of “a – ha” that’s the answer happens at exactly the time that you understand or “get” the problem that you were struggling with.
EXTEND:                   What new ideas did you get that EXTENDED or pushed your thinking in new directions?
  • to provide useful and appropriate scaffolding that will support students to take control of the process. Students need to be able to confidently be able to use routines and scaffolds that they know will help them organise their thinking.
  • knowing how to learn – empowering and enabling students to have the responsibility = skills, strategies and processes
  • working towards deep understanding and being able to transfer it to other situations. In the rush of the classroom we have to have strong convictions to give over the time to support and promote learning experiences that contribute to deep understanding. It can be done, and very rewarding when it is done.
CHALLENGE:             What is still CHALLENGING or confusing for you to get your mind around? What questions, wonderings or puzzles do you now have?
  • Making inferences  – jumping from the known and beyond the given information is the aim of learning and what the students I teach find very difficult to do. I’m not sure if it lack of opportunity to do this, lack of scaffolding or something else? Is  it because they haven’t gone through the entire phases of reflective thinking – maybe they are stuck on conceptualizing the problem and are therefore unable to make the jump to tentative interpretation/ hypothesis making.

The Constructive Process

In her work on inquiry learning, Carol Kuhlthau is heralded as being the first person to incorporate feelings into a model of the  inquiry learning process. Upon reflection, there is a lot more to incorporating thinking, feeling and acting in learning than just identifying the feelings students are having at particular times in the process. Kuhlthau’s model has let me know where in the inquiry learning process my students are most likely to have uncomfortable and negative feelings, and be ready to give up. But more importantly, she has matched these feelings with what the students are doing cognitively at this time.

This will enable me to provide scaffolds, organisers and learning experiences to support my students in their cognitive tasks at these points in the process.

By electing to use these scaffolds, organisers and learning experiences students should be able to reflect, infer, predict or see patterns in their information and therefore technically be in a better, more supported/confident/aware and positive position to make the jump to the next step in the inquiry learning process.

So my role is to have on hand a selection of learning experiences, scaffolds and routines for students to use at various times in the learning process, but especially at those times when their feelings are low and negative.

My learning of and about the inquiry learning process is deepening my understandings of what is involved in the information process and will hopefully lead me to be able to transfer this knowledge in practical and meaningful ways across age groups, grade levels and Key Learning Areas.


Image: “Icelandic Faces”

Icelandic Faces

Information Literacy

Here are some definitions of Information Literacy:

Langford (1998,p.59): information literacy is a type of literacy that has been transformed to work with the technologies of the time.

My comment: Literacy is active and changing and as the types, sources, reliability and access to information change and develop through the use of the internet and web2.0 applications,  students must be able to make sense of this information.

Abilock (2004, p. 1): information literacy is a transformational process where information is taken and used.

My comment:  This is an active sort of definition – information literacy is a process or strategy to work with information in a purposeful way.

Herring & Tartar (2006, p. 3): list of things information literate students will be able to do. 

 My comment: Add the idea of reflecting on the way the information was used to serve an identified purpose.


All of the authors added extra dimensions and  aspects to my understandings of information literacy.

Langford’s references to information literacy complementing technology is very relevant as students are dealing with many types of information in many formats and from varied sources. They need strategies and skills in identifying, deciphering and evaluating the information they come into contact with.

Abilock’s idea of using information for personal, social and global purposes support both constructivist and connectivist thinking where students are learning for an authentic purpose and audience.

Herring & Tartar identify actions that students are able to do with information in a step by step manner.

It seems to me that information literacy is a process to help students “help themselves” learn. So much about learning is not just content related facts. Students need to be able to collect, sort and use information in many ways to make meaning from what they read, view and hear. Information literacy is both a process and strategies to help them do this.


Herring, J. and Tartar, A. (2006). Progress in developing information literacy in a secondary school using the PLUS model. School Libraries in View, 23, 23-27


What Sort of Library?

'blocks blocks blocks' photo (c) 2011, samantha celera - license:


I have been reading about the roles of the TL for Assignment 1 and am excited about the active and purposeful ways that the TL can impact on the learning of the students, staff and school. I have read about some wonderful ways in which the TL can share her expertise in technology, information and literature with the staff to achieve outcomes and develop school priorities.

This has got me thinking about the type of library I want to develop with my school, and I have used my on-line friends’ examples and shared stories to allow me to see what a great library can be like. Each of the people or library blogs I follow shares an aspect, idea, environment or view that I admire and want to try and utilise or adapt to my setting.

A great library environment is:

  • welcoming
  • challenging
  • interesting
  • familiar, owned by students
  • a working place
  • a sharing and collaborating place
  • a finding out, inquiring place
  • an active, busy and purposeful place
  • a reflective and calm place as well!
A great library is a centre of learning, where we can:
  • wonder
  • wander
  • imagine
  • inquire
  • check
  • explore
  • create
  • transform
  • transfer
  • make or have an impact
Now to work with students and staff to translate these aspects into my own cohesive, meaningful and manageable programs to make our library a real centre of learning and thinking. Bring it on!


'Gargoyle Supporting An Ornamental Pillar At 575 Seventh Street, NW (Washington, DC)' photo (c) 2007, takomabibelot - license: there is a strong vision and plan for a school, which has been discussed and negotiated with the school community and actively embraced by the staff,  all staff are able to proceed in their roles with confidence. When this process is led by the Principal who encourages teacher leadership at all levels, having and using this school plan is very important in providing the structures and scaffolds necessary for the freedom entrusted to staff.

Oberg (2006, p.13) suggests that the Principal’s contributions in terms of ” vision building, evolutionary planning, empowering others, resource mobilization, and problem coping and monitoring” are critical in implementing change in schools. Having the support of the Principal, and through her/him the school plan means that the investment of money, time, effort, resources, planning,  and collaborating must have a real pay off in terms of student learning.

For the teacher librarian to have the support of the Principal means that the work done in and through the Library programmes is visible, validated and contributes to the learning outcomes of the whole school.The Principal’s expectations evidenced in the support (in various forms including time for collaborating, focus, prominence of information literacy programs) offers the TL (teacher librarian) opportunities to affect learning in many areas across the school:

  • students
  • classrooms
  • Teacher Professional Learning
  • resourcing
  • committees
  • special interest groups – both Teacher or Student
There are many down sides and difficulties in trying to work effectively as aTL without the active support of the Principal, but I know of  downsides and difficulties in trying to work with TLs who have the support of the Principal but who do not work actively to enhance and support school programs and vision. In the happiest of all worlds, the TL and the Principal would be a formidable team capable of envisioning and enacting change across the school. Bring it on!
Oberg, D. (2006) Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian 33(3). pp. 13-18


Thinking about roles of the Teacher Librarian

'Teach' photo (c) 2012, Susana Fernandez - license:


After reading a number of articles about the roles of the Teacher Librarian, I had plenty to think about, the number of tasks mentioned was over whelming – I honestly had given little thought to the documented myriad roles of the TL beyond vaguely “being in the Library”.

In order to undertake the various roles successfully prioritizing according to the school’s and student’s needs at a particular time is vitally important (Herring, 2007,p. 31). Priority areas would ideally be fluid across the year allowing for the TL to be effective and strategic in her workings with colleagues.

Within the roles put forward in my reading, three common areas stood out for me: the TL as teacher was over-arching and enhanced by innovator, leader and specialist. My ideas are explained in this table:























  • teacher
  • designing challenging learning opportunities for students
  • supporting  teachers – curriculum or tech based
  • leading by example
  • developing active learning using resources/materials used by 21st century students
  • collaborator

Pro-active in keeping Library products, services, experiences and successes visible and mainstream within the school community.





“Making a difference in the way teachers teach and students learn.” Purcell, 2010, p. 30







Contributing to a higher standard of student learning and performance

  •  teacher
  • creating & implementing curriculum
  • designing authentic learning experiences which integrate information skills
  • assessment, goal setting and planning
  • teacher
  • in information literacy – transliteracy
  • in information systems
  • collection management
  • ensuring Library services, products and programs are visible and explicit

Teaching is where Teacher Librarians get to “walk the talk” – they are in the position of not only advocating, leading and specialising in integrating technology – they are also in the classroom showing what it all means in action.


Herring, J. (2007). Teachers librarians and the school library. In S.Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp.27-42).  Wagga Wagga, N. S. W. : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Lamb, A. and Johnson, L., (2008) School library media specialist 2.0: a dynamic collaborator, teacher, and technologist. Teacher Librarian 36(2), pp. 74-78.

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books, right? A look at the roles of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.



A beginning …

Why Teacher Librarian?

Why now?

I have had the opportunity, over the last few years, to have been given the gift of freedom in my work in my classroom as a primary school teacher. I have been actively encouraged and allowed to think, to read, to find out, to imagine, to play, to try new ways and even to fail.

This translated into working with amazing, and varied, groups of students and creating wonderfully authentic learning opportunities for us all. I have had the chance to see first hand the effects of engaging students meaningfully in their learning, of working alongside them as they take up the reins of their own learning and move off into the wonderful world of wondering.

I have seen how this works in one classroom, but beyond my classroom is a group of passionate, dedicated and enthusiastic teachers who are achieving amazing learning in their classrooms as well. This sort of student centred learning should not be kept in single classrooms – it should be shared across classes and grades and stages and teachers.

So I see my moving to the Library as a chance to move  my own personal learning, the learning of the students, and learning with my fabulous colleagues forward and outwards from  learners in single classrooms to learners across the school.

I know I will continue to keep on

  • reading
  • thinking
  • playing
  • making
  • wondering
  • questioning and
  • trying new ways of learning …

…….. this time from the centre of the school, the heart of the school – the Library.