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What is the teacher librarians role in gaining Principal support?

Is it the role of the teacher librarian to seduce the principal?

It may seem abundantly obvious that a Principal plays a significant role in the way teacher librarians operate in their role. In fact this point borders on tautology when examining closely the broader picture and understanding differences between collaborative approaches and more narrow and stereotypical viewpoints.

In Dianne Oberg’s somewhat dated and predictable text Developing the respect and support of school administrators (2006) the author highlights the obvious importance Principals play in schools. Oberg plays with the idea that a principal may be swayed by arguments that a school can build a productive culture through an active teacher librarian.

Research has shown that the principal is the key factor in the development of the collaborative school culture that is needed for a strong school library program. (Oberg 2006)

The main avenue through which this can be achieved, it is argued, is the development of programs that are new, not only to teaching staff but to Principals as well. This in turn will lead to the teacher librarian gaining the respect and support of the Principal.

One of the more interesting points hit upon by Oberg, and one which drives to the heart of the argument of the role a Teacher Librarian can play, is when referencing Hay & Henri (1995). Not only does this display ideas in the Australian context, it more importantly talks of the Principal’s expectation that Teacher Librarians have a vision for future services and the willingness to develop skills to become leaders in the school.

Oberg goes on to define what is needed to garner favour with principals
• Building professional credibility
• Communicating effectively
• Working to advance school goals

More excitingly, the writing of Ken Haycock talks about collaboration igniting a “creative fire”. In his work Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning he attempts to succinctly synthesis research from a broad range of sources (primarily North American). From a list of 20 factors he produces a cluster of six elements. The most interesting in regards to the role of the teacher librarian in gaining Principal support are Factors Related to Process and Structure.

The important implication being that;

“Roles and responsibilities are clear and supported by policy guidelines. The
role of the teacher-librarian is delineated by district or school policy and
mutual understandings: it is not a support role; it is not a service role; it is
a partner role.”

He explains that “collaboration depends on trust, shared vision, and communication.” (Haycock, p26)

In conclusion it is fair to agree that the role of the teacher librarian should be a collaborative one. Isn’t this true of all teaching roles? And that when working in a school it is only reasonable to collaborate with all stakeholders; teachers, students, parents, community groups and yes, Principals. The importance of collaboration is that it works both ways. With a supportive Principal and a Teacher Librarian willing to steer learning with a shared vision, roles should be clearly defined.

References
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.

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This entry was posted on March 25, 2013 by .
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