Teacher Librarians filling the PD gap

Yesterday I got to combine two of my passions: PLANE (Pathways for Learning Anytime Anywhere Network for Educators) and Teacher Librarians’ role as PD providers. A small number of local teacher librarians travelled to my school and I introduced them to PLANE.

So why does this matter?

At the moment we are living in interesting times to be a teacher and particularly a teacher librarian. Local Schools, Local Decisions has meant that principals can decide whether or not to employ a teacher librarian. If they don’t see the value added to their school by a teacher librarian they may choose to “save”  money  by employing a cheaper library assistant and an extra teacher to reduce class sizes elsewhere. So there is a lot of pressure on teacher librarians to make their value visible to the principal. At the same time the Realignment has cut over 300 consultant jobs from the NSW DEC. These are the people who would normally be brought into a school to provide professional development to the staff. At the same time schools need to be upskilling their staff for the rolling out of Australian Curriculum English syllabus in 2014- only a year and a bit away. The Australian Curriculum differs from the current NSW Curriculum with the three cross curriculum priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures; Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia; and Sustainability. There are also the general capabilities: critical and creative thinking; ethical understanding; ICT capability; intercultural understanding; literacy; numeracy; and personal and social capability. Not only is this going to require new resources but it will require a lot of teacher professional development. The big question is “who is going to provide this professional development?” particularly since the cut in consultants.

The answer is tied up in another education problem the development of leadership capabilities in staff. Many current leaders in education are going to be retiring in the next 5 years and a new crop of leaders needs to be trained. I think, as a group,  teachers have become passive consumers of professional development. We wait for “experts” to come to the school and tell us what to do, rather than researching and training ourselves.

This is where PLANE and teacher librarians come in.

The Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians state

Professional Knowledge

Excellent teacher librarians…
1.1 understand the principles of lifelong learning
1.2 know about learning and teaching across curriculum areas and developmental levels
1.3 have a rich understanding of the school community and curriculum
1.4 have a specialist knowledge of information, resources, technology and library management 

Professional Practice

Excellent teacher librarians…
2.1 engage and challenge learners within a supportive, information-rich learning environment
2.2 collaboratively plan and resource curriculum programs which incorporate transferable information literacy and literature outcomes
2.3 provide exemplary library and information services consistent with national standards
2.4 evaluate student learning and library programs and services to inform professional practice

Professional Commitment

Excellent teacher librarians…
3.1 model and promote lifelong learning
3.2 commit to the principles of education and librarianship
3.3 demonstrate leadership within school and professional communities
3.4 actively participate in education and library professional networks 

Impressive standards! You would have to be some kind of super teacher to do all that!

The fact is that trained teacher librarians are probably the most qualified member of most school staffs,-having both a teaching degree and a Masters in Education.

I have put in bold the aspects that I think are most important to the introduction of the Australian Curriculum. So don’t waste your teacher librarians time getting him/her to work the circulation desk or reshelve books. Use your in-school expert to help provide the professional development and collaborative unit development your school needs.

Now not all of us teacher librarians feel that we quite meet the Standards of Excellence just yet. They are Standards of Professional Excellence after allThis is where we bring in the secret weapon-PLANE. PLANE provides free online accredited with NSW IoT courses in ICT and Quality Teaching methods. Any educator in Australia can join. All you need is an edu.au email account and a Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo or Linked in account to register. These social media sites are also going to be a great Professional Learning Network as well.

So my challenge to all teacher librarians is join PLANE, spend the next 3 months plunging yourself into whatever courses meet your fancy and then at the first Staff Development day in 2013 do  a presentation on PLANE to your school staff. Get your principal to give you at least an hour, because you are going to need all of it. Read the new English Australian Curriculum and see how much of it is information literacy and your field of expertise. Position yourself as the in-school expert on the use of Technology in education and the Australian Curriculum. Demonstrate your value to the school.

These are interesting times. But they are also the Era of the Teacher Librarian because we are the information experts in our schools. We just have to step up to that leadership role.


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