ETL504 Critical Reflection

Posted by sonja on May 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

ETL 504 Critical reflection

When I started the readings for ETL504 I realised there was a lot more to leadership than I had first thought and trying to place all the styles of leadership into a mind map became a very complex activity. Understanding all the different styles of leadership and then realising the nature of leadership itself was evolving, became a somewhat daunting task. Whilst the more traditional styles are still being used, there are new styles that are meshing with these. They are based on individual attention of team members, being charismatic and providing an inspirational vision (Avolio,Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009). To be honest, I was not aware of all the leadership styles and reflected about people I had worked with and for, and also about what style I considered myself to be.

Fashionable educational change and data driven leadership is perhaps one of the newest styles of leadership which we are all currently experiencing (Hargreaves, 2007). Writing the vision with this change in mind and knowing the new curriculum will be implemented over the next three years, sound data and detailed evidence will provide the crucial element for future planning. School leaders will need to make changes and provide valuable resources in areas where they will make a difference (ASLA, 2013). Writing a strategic plan for a library will identify areas of need and changes that are necessary to meet these needs.

Whilst the concept of writing a vision and strategic plan at times was overwhelming perhaps the most daunting issue for me was that I was also considered a leader. Having been a classroom teacher for almost twenty years I have never considered a classroom teacher role such as mine to be a leader. Module 3 Leadership for learning highlighted, that whilst I adopt the servant style of leadership (Marzano, Waters, & McNulty, 2005), I collaborate with colleagues, help when possible, guide colleagues, create, implement and share programs, provide feedback to colleagues for evaluation purposes, discuss and lead meetings along with presenting at staff meetings on how data is being used to differentiate lessons, that I am in fact being a leader. These duties were to me as just being part of the job and our everyday roles as a classroom teacher.

Leading from the middle and servant style leadership, whilst I am not a fan of the title, marry well together. The instructional style of leadership in the role of the TL would also be a style that could be adopted due the various situations TL’s are placed in. An important element of leadership is communication and it plays a huge role in any style of leadership. The barriers to effective communication must be considered by leaders and adjusted to suit these situations. Body language and facial expressions can be intentional and unintentional and these factors can influence effective communication (Bender, 2008). The TL is placed in a variety of situations and is often the first port of call for anyone entering the library. These skills of communication are essential for creating a positive learning and working environment.

The opportunities of the TL as leader is one that I have not fully explored yet but having worked in the classroom for nearly twenty years and having spent last year in a very well-resourced K-12 Library, I have gained a much better understanding of this concept. In my role last year I communicated with staff from kindergarten to year 12, collaborated with staff regarding the designing and implementing of programs, for the students that I taught from year one to year 9, was involved with promoting the library services and its resources and basically what I could do to assist them and their students. A lot of problem solving occurred regarding many issues that arose. In the 21st century learning environment a TL is to be an instructional leader, consultant, curriculum designer, mediator for students and staff in order for best practice to occur (ASLA, 2013). The TL must wear many hats and sometimes these hats are not known by other staff and wider community. The TL must advertise and promote the story and value of the library, its products and services and what they have to offer the school and community. Promotional marketing will encourage the use of specific products and services (Doucett, 2011).

Promoting TL’s skills will be imperative for the school to move forward and embrace new curriculum  Many are not aware of the skill set or knowledge that the TL possesses. The literature based English curriculum and the embedding of ICT capabilities is the perfect opportunity for TL’s to be leaders.


Australian School Library Association (2013), Future learning and school libraries, ASLA, Canberra, ACT. Retrieved May 18, 2013 from http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/2013-ASLA-futures-paper.pdf

Avolio, B., Walumbwa, F., & Weber, T. J. (2009, September 14). Leadership: Current Theories, Research, and Future Directions. DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1036&context=managementfacpub

Bender, Y. (2005). The tactful teacher effective communication with parents, colleagues, and administrators. White River Junction, VT: Nomad Press.

Doucett, E. (2011). Promotional Marketing. What they don’t teach you in library school (pp. 85-90). Chicago: American Library Association.

Hargreaves, A. (2007). Sustainable leadership and development in education: creating the future, conserving the past. European journal of education, 42(2), 223-233. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://www.internationalfuturesforum.com/iffblog_old/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/hargreaves-eje-past-present-and-future.pdf

Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works: from research to results (pp. 13-27). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Retrieved 27 January, 2013 from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/docDetail.action?docID=10089219



ETL504 – Leadership in Schools: a reflection

Posted by sonja on Apr 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

“Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course” (John C. Maxwell, 1998)

The subject of leadership in schools appeared at first glance to be quite simple but as I read module one and two the concept of leadership became increasingly complex. Whilst doing the readings and watching TED.com and YouTube, I found myself reflecting on the leaders that I have worked with in the past at a small training company, and two large organisations, I thought about their leadership styles. My current workplace is a school and I have been there for quite some time and have now worked under four heads of junior school, two headmasters and recently a head of library. I found myself trying to match a leadership style, as described by Marzano, Water and McNulty (2005), to each of them. I can truly say I have worked for range of leaders that either adopt one of these styles exclusively or combine a number of them to meet specific needs.

Reflecting on past and present leaders that I have experienced, also started me thinking about my own leadership skills. Having been a classroom teacher and after working in the Library last year, the style that I feel most connected with is the servant style of leadership and found I was utilising these skills without knowing the type of style or theory behind my actions. The library is the hub of the school and the teacher librarian is in a unique position of being in touch with all levels of the school community, which allows them to adopt this style of leadership in which they nurture, support and develop the skills of those around them.

Leadership today, I believe, has again evolved and is now appearing to be driven more and more by data, understanding this data and how to use this data to increase each student’s performance. Hargreaves (2007) speaks quite strongly about the current educational reform and the imposing of short term targets and endless testing. He compares teachers to natural resources and expendable waste as this new reform could be the enemy of educational sustainability. As a result, a new style of leadership is emerging, mainly as a result of national assessment and the perceived urgency for schools to improve their ranking. Knapp, Copland, and Swinnerton (2007) define this as “data-informed leadership” and suggest that wise leaders are those that consider the data collected and apply their own knowledge, experience, values and insights to drive decisions.

Leadership in schools is evolving and has to evolve to ensure the continued success of schools. I have been privileged to work for some great leaders and have witnessed their leadership style change when needed. I have also worked for some not so great leaders and personal gain was perhaps their motivation. Having said all this and completed only module one and two (and some of three) reading’s in my fifth subject of my Masters, I have learned about what constitutes a good leader and what makes them a great leader and also the kind of leader I aspire too.

Aguilar, E. (2012, November 28). Effective teams: The key to transforming schools? | Edutopia. Edutopia | K-12 Education & learning innovations with proven strategies that work. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teacher-teams-transform-schools-elena-aguilar

Australian Library and Information Association, & Australian School Library Association (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved April 3, 2013 from http://www.alia.org.au/policies/TLstandards.pdf

Avolio, B., Walumbwa, F., & Weber, T. J. (2009, September 14). Leadership: Current Theories, Research, and Future Directions. DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1036&context=managementfacpub

Belbin, R. M. (2010). Chapter 9. The art of building a team. Team roles at work (2nd ed., pp. 97-106). Amsterdam: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Hargreaves, A. (2007). Sustainable leadership and development in education: creating the future, conserving the past. European journal of education, 42(2), 223-233. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://www.internationalfuturesforum.com/iffblog_old/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/hargreaves-eje-past-present-and-future.pdf

Knapp, M. S., Copland, M. A., & Swinnerton, J. A. (2007). Chapter 4 Understanding the promise and dynamics of data-informed leadership. Yearbook of the national society for the study of education, 106(1), 74-104. Retrieved January 28, 2013. DOI:10.1111/ j.1744-7984.2007.00098.x

MacBeath, J. (2006). The talent enigma. International journal of leadership in education: Theory and practice, 9(3), 183-204. Retrieved April 3, 2013. DOI:10.180/13603120600741474

Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works: from research to results (pp. 13-27). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved 27 January, 2013 from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/docDetail.action?docID=10089219

Maxwell, J. C. (1998). The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership: Follow them and people will follow you. Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Tapscott, D. (2010, June). Don Tapscott: Four principles for the open world | Video on TED.com [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/don_tapscott_four_principles_for_the_open_world_1.html

Townsend, T. (2011). School leadership in the twenty-first century: different approaches to common problems? School leadership and management, 31(2), 93-103. Retrieved April 2, 2013. DOI:10.1080/13632434.2011.572419


ETL 401 – Critical Synthesis

Posted by sonja on Oct 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

I have been teaching as previously stated for nearly 20 years and I thought that I knew what the teacher librarians (TL) do at our school. How wrong I was. I look back now and actually feel very naive in my thoughts. Unfortunately, at my school library lessons are now treated as release from face to face teaching and it would seem that this is a directive from the Principal. As a result, I actually don’t get to see what the TL does when my class goes to the library. We have collaborated in the past but I now realise the need to collaborate much more and in greater detail.

My first few blogs entries (Holden, 2010a, 2010b, 2010c, 2010d) comment briefly on my increasing understanding of what information literacy is and also what an ILSC is. These two concepts were not familiar to me and the readings from Herring (2007) and Henri (2005) provided me with great insight and highlighted the need to strive for both. In my current class, each child has a laptop and uses it each day as part of the learning process. I felt that I was already helping them in small ways with their searching process and hopefully helping them to become more information literate. However after reading these two particular articles and researching and writing ETL501 Assignment 1, I became significantly aware of how my students were using the internet and books from the classroom library. The evaulation criteria researched as part of the readings for this assignment proved to me how inadequate their current search and evaluation techniques were and I made comment of this in the ETL501 forum (Holden, 2010h). Observations were that on a whole, students were typing in very general topic words for research assignments and therefore taking a long time to locate and evaluate information. At the same time, I had commenced creating a pathfinder for ETL 501. This was also very new to me but I soon realised how useful these would be for students. Kuntz’s (2003) analogy of a pathfinder as a road map with street signs for finding specific information with hints along the way made so much sense. Thank goodness I am on Year 5 again next year as I’ll be able to put my pathfinder on to good use (Holden, 2010f), and hopefully be able to work closely with one of the TLs to create additional resources for other units of work.

After reading Haycock (2007) about how collaboration with the TL was critical to improving students learning and information literacy outcomes I realised that as a classroom teacher I need to value the time that goes into a reference interview and collaborate more regularly with the TL. I reflected on this in one of my earlier blog entries (Holden, 2010g).  It is important that the relationship between the TL and classroom teacher is ongoing in order to maximise benefits and develop student’s information literacy skills and independent, lifelong learners (Doiron & Davies, 1998). To combine the teacher’s knowledge of the specific research task and the TL’s information management skills is indeed a powerful resource which would only improve the student learning outcome. After reflecting on this, I was disappointed that at my school with the state of the art library and three qualified TLs that this was not promoted more and specific time is not allocated to have reference interviews (Holden, 2010g). My view of the school and the obstacles the TLs face are many (Holden, 2010e). I had trouble deciding on one obstacle for ETL401 assignment one. I chose the stereotype of the TL but my second choice would have been the Headmaster. However, I believe it is again the case that the true value of the TL is not known or understood. I enjoyed the article by Bonano about advocacy. Due to the perceptions in school environments it is essential that TL become an advocate for the library and its services Bonano (2005). In the case of my school, the Head TL does not act as an advocate of the library and seems reluctant to approach the executive and in particular the Headmaster to promote the library and the valuable role the TLs could play in the learning process.

The last post on my blog reflects on the steep learning curve I’ve experienced during this semester of study (Holden, 2010g). Overall my opinion and views have significantly changed. The role of the TL is such a vital one to ensuring students become information literate and lifelong learners . They should be recognised and valued and as Spence (2005) states the TL should be seen as an asset to the school rather than the first place where cost cutting occurs.

Another significant learning experience was when I read Sara Scribner’s article and reflected on it in my last blog posting. In this article, I was particularly moved by the following comparison:

Not teaching kids how to sift through sources is like sending them into the world without knowing how to read (Scribner, 2010)

This idea will stick with me for the rest of my teaching life and I will endeavour to ensure my students will value the searching process (Holden, 2010g).

This course has inspired me to continue my studies and also to put into practice what I’ve learnt so far. We sometimes lose sight of the big picture and can get bogged down in the day to day running of a very busy and complex school. The teacher librarian and their complex role when utilised effectively, will enhance and empower students with information literacy and create lifelong learners. This is the big picture.


Doiron, R., & Davies, J. (1998). Partners in Learning: Students, teachers, and the school library. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical Success Factors for Student Learning. School Libraries Worldwide , 25-35.

Herring, J. (2004). The Internet and information skills: a guide for teachers and school librarians. London: Facet Publishing.

Holden, S. (2010a, July 18). My first blog. [Blog message]. Retrieved from http://www.longitude151.com/blog/

Holden, S. (2010b, July 24). Week 2. [Blog message]. Retrieved from http://www.longitude151.com/blog/

Holden, S. (2010c, August 3). Week 3. [Blog message]. Retrieved from http://www.longitude151.com/blog/

Holden, S. (2010d, August 26). Week 6. [Blog message]. Retrieved from http://www.longitude151.com/blog/

Holden, S. (2010e, August 31). Week 7. [Blog message]. Retrieved from http://www.longitude151.com/blog/

Holden, S. (2010f, September 10). Week 9. [Blog message]. Retrieved from http://www.longitude151.com/blog/

Holden, S. (2010g, October 1). Week 10. [Blog message]. Retrieved from http://www.longitude151.com/blog/

Holden, S. (2010h, August 10). Website reliability criteria. [Forum comment]. Retrieved from http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?task=view&message_id=4648031&forum_id=ETL501_201060_W_D_Sub6_forum

 Kuntz, K. (2003, May/June). Pathfinders: Helping Students Find Paths to Information. MultiMedia Schools: A Practical Journal of Technology for Education .

Scribner, S. (2010, March 24). Saving the Google Generation. Retrieved from http://news.therecord.com/article/687546 on 27/09/2010


Week 10

Posted by sonja on Oct 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

When I completed ETL 501 yesdaerday and I had to reflect about what I had learnt whilst doing my pathfinder I realised I could not fit all that I had learnt into part of a 1500 word essay. I underestimated many things when I signed up for this course and having been a classroom teacher for  nearly 20 years see the Teacher Librarain in a whole new light. I have realised that collaboration with the teacher librarian is essential for the students to become information literate students. These lessons come hand in hand with most subject areas and need to be intergrated into all lessons. I read an article about not teaching a student how to search for information is like  not teaching them how to read. (Scribner 2010) This idea will stick with me for the rest of my teaching life and I will endeavour to ensure my students will value the searching process. ( and my two sons) 

I also feel that the reason behind this blog has been confusing as I took it to be my reflective journal not an academice piece of writing in which references were to appear. The forums have been confusing and somewhat overwhelming and to be honest I have stayed away from them for this reason. Sometimes they have proved helpful and I have gained some helpful insights.  I made sure I responded when James Herring asked me to otherwise I read all posts by Lee, Roy and James. Some of the comments on the forums were egotistical, rude, nonsense and just plain silly.(eg, honey going everywhere whilst trying to do an assignment)  I therefore did not pay close attention to them as I thought they were for work questons only. Perhaps there should be 2 forums set up by CSU, one for the social chit chats with fellow students and one specifically for questions relating to assignments and topics.

What I have learnt so far in my first semester has already altered my approach to teaching my year five students. And it has certainly changed my opinion of our teacher librarains and also how important the reference  interveiw is.


Week 9

Posted by sonja on Sep 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

The forums are providing some interesting information this week pertaining to the assignments. I have finished my pathfinder and now need to start the 1500 word essay about how I created it. Not sure how I’ll do this yet but will keep posted to the forums for more helpful information. This way of learning is very different  from the lectures that I am used to from 20 years ago. This sort of education is really for the very self discilpined as sometimes it is hard to stick to. I am normally very discilpined but am finding it a little tricky of late but am still on top of my readings.

Today in the library lesson that my Year 5 students did I saw the Teacher Librarian perhaps as they truly should be seen. My class were completeing work related to the topic of Gold in Australia – our current topic – and having fun. It was part of a yr 5 competition called Race around the world and the classes were competeing aginst each other. The students had to print their work whether finished or not and then the information is tallied. Half my class did not want to leave the libaray until they had finished. It was great to see them so engaged in learning and using their laptops with the guidance of the TL.

One day I hope to be like this awesome TL who by the way was my prac student when she went back to study to become a TL.


Week 8

Posted by sonja on Sep 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

I am right in the thick of creating my pathfinder and have been really getting to know our school library. The library has so many resources, more than I thought.  I think all teachers should do this TL course as then there would be collaborative programming in all stages and the class teachers would know exactly what their school library has to offer.

Doing this assignment has again opened my eyes to the role of the teacher librarian and how I really didn’t know or understand their expertise. I also learnt form one of our teacher librarians that they had been asked to present at a juinor school staff meeting about search engines and educational sites avaible for teachers. This is a first that I have known about at this school and I have been at this school for many years. Unfortunately it was cancelled due to unforseen circumstances.  But it is great to know that it has been rescheduled for next term.

The fact that these TL work from k-12 in our school and know the assessment tasks for years 7-12 and curriculums as well is truly amazing.


Week 7

Posted by sonja on Aug 31, 2010 in Uncategorized

This week I have decided to do one subject each semester due to the time involved in readings and assignments. I have enjoyed what I’ve learnt and have already put new ideas into practice in my classroom and with our TL’s. I feel that I am spreading myself too thin in all areas, work, family and study and believe in quality not quantity. Hence my decision. I am not sure where or how these students find the time to comment as much as they do on the forums. I think it is great how everyone helps each other out and offers solultions to problems. I have not been commenting in 401 forums but have been reading them all.  I am now concerned that the last part of the assignment about the forums and the fact I have not contributed to them may not help my overall result.

Having said that my opinion of the TL has changed significantly. I always knew they worked hard, were teachers not just librarians, created programmes and at my school they had to be involved in extra curricular activities. But I really didn’t know or understand how important their role to teaching Information Literacy to students was. It is not a concept that will just happen but explicit teaching must occur. In addition to this collaborative planning with the TL is crucial for this to occur in meaningful, curriculum linked based lessons.

In my assignemt for 401 where I had to find an obstacle to discuss relating to a school, I found it difficult to decide on one as the school I work at has so many. I now actually feel empathy towards the TL’s who try to the very best job that they can but struggle daily with many obstacles. There is also talk of cutting back TL times just as our school is increasing in student numbers. So any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.


Week 6

Posted by sonja on Aug 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

I have handed in my first two assignments. I stayed up till 1am refrencing my essay, as it has been almost 20 years since I have written an essay and therefore had forgotten to reference as I went. I also forgot how careful I had to be when referencing. Thank goodess for my babysitter as she gave me her APA Guide as she is uni student.

The biggest thing I have learnt from these 2 assignments is to reference properly as you go as it will save time in the long run. I was a little down as I hadn’t spent much time with my family and my beautiful 9 yr old told me not to worry as it would be worth it in the end. This kept me going. How perceptive children are sometimes and at the right times.

I also learnt that there must be a lot of libraries out there that are not being used to their full potential and how teachers really don’t know how to utilise their TL.  As I am a classroom teacher I see our TL in a brand new light and have begun to work more collaboatively with them.

Now onto more readings and 2 more assignments.


Week 5

Posted by sonja on Aug 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

Well, I’ve almost completed one assignment and actually found it difficult to stick to the word count. I was nervous that I would not meet the 1500 requirement,  but soon found out after doing all the readings and knowing what I wanted to say it was hard to cut down. I am about to start a 2000 word essay and hope for the same. Again I don’t know how I am going to write 2000 words so hope when I start it will just flow. I am behind a week in my readings due to the 501 assignment and also due to the fact that it was my week to discuss topics on the forum. Which by the way is an excellent idea. I find there is little time left in my day to discuss topics on the 401 forum as it is not compulsory therefore I do the readings and do what I’m supposed to do and not go to the forum.

I am still learning a lot and am putting it into practice in my classroom as I teach a year 5 laptop grade. All students have their own laptops which is fun and challenging.


Week 4

Posted by sonja on Aug 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

I am trying to keep up tp date with my blog and have decided to do one each Saturday afternoon.

Last week I got together with 2 of my collegues who are also studying this subject, and we discussed the assignments and how we were going in general. It was wonderful to have this session ( the first of many) and  it was good to know that we are all on the same track.

Before doing the readings for this last week I relised that I really didn’t know or understand much about evaluating web sites and took a lot for granted. Yes, I ask my students to define and refine their searches but not this extend. This is where the tl really comes into play when working with the classroom teacher. I haven’t read the next topic yet but will do so before I start my assignment as it is about website evaluation.

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