Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The TL and instructional leadership

I believe that part of my role as a teacher librarian is to be a leader.  Not necessarily a leader on staff, but more of a leader when it comes to instruction.  As a teacher's workload increases and the pace of change ramps up, my role is to try to navigate the stormy waters and ease a teacher's stress.  This is done in a few ways:

1. Reading.  Now really, that sounds like the ultimate teacher librarian line, but it is true.  I am familiar with all the learning outcomes for the subjects at my school and I read up on them as much as possible.  If I come across magazine articles or online sources that might have a curriculum tie in, I read them and pass them on to the appropriate teachers. 

2. Technology.  I try to keep up to date on web tools that are available to teachers.  I test them out, suggest them to teachers and co-teach the introductory web tool lesson.

3. Teaching.  I believe it is essential for me to keep teaching. I teach daily within my own classroom, the library, but it's also necessary to continually step back into the traditional classroom and teach.  I want to remain connected to the teacher part of my teacher librarian title. 

4. Professional development. I am constantly trying to grow as a teacher librarian. I subscribe to and read SLJ and LMC. I read professional literature. Via my Twitter PLN and numerous chats, I read about what cutting edge teacher librarians are undertaking in their libraries around the world.

A wonderful colleague of mine told me recently that one approach to management is the Management By Walking Around approach.  Initially, I scoffed but once I gave it more thought, I realized that that is my leadership approach.  I walk around the building a fair bit during the course of the day.  Walking allows me to see what it going on in the building and connect with colleagues that don't often make it up to the library.  I get to see what units teachers are currently tackling.  It is during this time that I have the most honest conversations.  All of this informs my teacher librarianship as to how I can best help teachers.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Evolution of professional development

Friday's province wide professional development day for teachers made me reflect on what exactly pro d is and how my approach to professional development has changed during my teaching career.

1. Early career professional development
I have always loved professional development and I think it is an integral part of being an educator.  Teachers, for the most part, were very successful students and that love of learning doesn't disappear after graduation.  For me, those early years of teaching meant that I tried to get to as many big conferences as possible and learn as much as possible about improving my craft.  I attended both provincial English teachers' and Social Studies teachers' conferences.  I went to workshops about behaviour strategies and assessment strategies. I learned about drama activities and art activities.  I learned about health and wellness and so on.  My Renaissance approach to professional development meant that I wanted to try anything and everything to make my teaching better.

2. Current professional development practice
I still love professional development but now it has morphed into something different.  I no longer look at all the big conferences to go to for a variety of little reasons ranging from cost to time away from family.  But the biggest reason is that I don't think I have to go to them. My professional development is always happening; it is fluid and constant.  I am on Twitter every single evening. I read something educational every single night. Now that I have more teaching and life experience, I am more aware of my strengths and weaknesses as an educator and I focus my pro d to work on stregthening those weaknesses.  I have a clearer vision of how I want to impprove as a teacher librarian and where I what direction I want my library program to go in. 

In my early years as a teacher, I was focused on learning my craft and how to deliver the curriculum in innovative ways. Now I really know the curriculum and see the big ideas interwoven throughout the course.  I also understand assessment much better and manage behavior issues with much more ease.  Professional development is now more about fine tuning my teaching and tailoring professional development to meet my individual needs.