Critical Reflection ETL401

When reading the article by Buffy Hamilton (2011) ”What kind of teacher are you?” made me question my own mathematics teaching qualities. Reflecting on practice in my twenty three years in private industry was not as complex, continuously used and intellectually demanding as it has been when reflecting on teaching mathematics to students in the secondary school system. Mathematics has never been difficult to comprehend throughout my education. But I found that the difficulties I experienced while in the process of differentiating, explaining and presenting it in a way that low ability students can understand, then practice and make sense of it in the real world made me critically analyze educational theories for further elaboration. I found constructivist theories to be the most applicable as for example Piaget and “The Moore Method”. I have been previously introduced to these constructivist theorist within selected course readings whilst completing my Bachelor of Education Secondary Mathematics degree from Charles Sturt University.

Immersing myself into the subject matter of ELT401 I was impressed with the teacher librarian’s (TL) impact on students achievement and lifelong learning. I realized with a shock how relevant it was when comparing it to real life experiences from my previous employment as a Systems Engineer. The Systems Engineering field is a continuous learning process of assimilating new information, how this information is applied in providing solutions to problems and how the solution affects the whole system process. The problem resolution routine is very similar to the process identified in project based learning. This made me feel that the profession of teacher librarian is extremely applicable and may I say ideally suited to me as I discovered relative similarities in many aspects to the modus operandi from my previous experiences in the systems, technology and engineering fields.

This intensified my eagerness in exploring further into the roles of the TL. Whilst in my endeavor to seek further information I identified the reasons why there is so much importance placed on TLs being correctly credentialed. Credentialing for TLs is a quality assurance initiative in providing a high standard of personal engagement and influence on the learning communities of schools. I commented about this with an entry in topic two sub-forum “The Role of the teacher librarian”. Barbara Coombes’s replied to my forum posting adding how a TL being an information specialist translates into the school environment as someone who knows, or can find out about things happening in the world of information both online and physical. Furthermore she indicated that the information specialists role has become even more important today because the virtual information landscape is hug, very crowded and reaching a point where it is almost impossible for lay people to search and find meaningful information. Being called an information literate you must possess the ability to navigate the complex information landscape successfully. This is the reason why there is much urgency being placed by educational institutions on students mastery of information literacy skills as a paradigm of 21st century learning.

There was a sigh of relief when I discovered voya’s article “Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians” by Joyce Kasman Valenza. This journal article clearly identifies how an effective practice of a TL looks like in a continually morphing information and communication landscape. Moreover this article can be considered as an elaborate step by step rubric, a framework for TLs explaining all the responsibilities they undertake in the 21st century learning continuum. This will be useful in my future practice as a TL.

The next intriguing area of interest was the evidenced based practice that a TL must do to prove their worth. Not only do TLs must be teachers/instructional partners, information specialist and program administrators as specified in the American Association of School Librarians and Association for Educational Communications and technology handbook Information Power (1998). They must also provide evidence for their existence in terms of student achievement. The reading “The Evidenced Based manifesto” by Ross Todd (2008) enlightened my understanding of how TLs can coordinate the evidence gathering using a process called evidence based practice (EBP). EBP is an action research orientated process with an emphasis on outcomes.

Formulating an understanding for the definition information literacy as a concept and/or a process and how it relates to information literacy models was expressed in my sub forum 4 post “Transfer of information literacy skills”. I particularly favored the following information literacy models the “Big 6” and “PLUS”.. I liked the Big 6 model because it has 6 very comprehensible steps and when I analyzed each ones sub points the information model became easier to understand as a process. Then when reading all the other models I found only Herring’s PLUS model as an contrasting and very universally applicable model. I found the Big 6 much better in learning the process. But then when I grasped the concept I preferred the PLUS model as it translated more logically, easier to remember and demystified the process of research. Also I particularly liked the last step of the PLUS model self-evaluation. It assists students learning the process in applying deep thinking skills and meta-learning.

In conclusion my journey of learning in this ETL401 teacher librarian course has been a revelation of incredible discovery. Before I started I did not possess this conception of the teacher librarian role in its full complexity. Although I had done a fair bit of personal investigation however, it did not manage to fulfill the depth of understanding and information I learned by completing this course.