ETL504. Part B: Critical Reflection

Provide a critical reflection as a final post on your blog on what you have learnt as you examined leadership in depth during this subject.

In assessment 2 I discuss how moral purpose can shape the role of a leader. Yet I still find myself asking ‘why did I decide to become a teacher librarian? not ‘how will I develop as a leader?’ In the first entry in my learning journal I reflect on how I have been perusing the study guide and notes with mixed feelings. I am still getting my head around being a teacher, classroom management and fulfilling my responsibility as the Librarian, leadership is still mountain that I can see in the distance. I feel heavy expectations now that I am at the completion point of this learning journey. I see the steps, I understand the purpose of what I have learnt, but taking on a senior role is somewhat daunting.

Assessment 1 taught me that a leader needs to be visible, a collaborator, a team player as well as an agent for change and a visionary and this is best achieved by developing these skills within the context of your work setting (Fullan, 2004). Therefore it was important for me to find out what my leadership style is and if the school leaders perceive the same and what am I doing towards developing my leadership skills to support my vision. To do this I created a Leadership Survey that I asked the Principal, and two of the executive that I team teach with, to complete. I then created a concept map, listing the range of areas where I perceive I am developing my leadership skills, both in and out of the Library. In this way I have been able to critically analyse and reflect on what was successful and what weaknesses needed to be worked on. According to Everhart (2007) the T/L has many opportunities to serve in a leadership capacity outside of the Library through participation in curriculum committees, community organisations and task forces. The concept map demonstrates how developing leadership skills support the school community outside the Library and how my job as a T/L is being supported in the Library. For example, giving time to PSSA, Active After School sport group and the Senior Project group has created opportunities to get to know many of the students outside of the Library, thus establishing an atmosphere of trust and respect. This in turn has created opportunities to develop new ideas that will motivate students (especially the reluctant readers) to see the Library as a relevant and worthwhile place to spend time. Shoemaker (in Cart, 2007, p.1) states “I want my Library to be an integral part of the entire school environment that keeps students constantly awash in a sea of books, authors and ideas”. This is the passion that I have and want to continue to develop and engender as a school leader. Doing duties outside of the Library has meant giving up a degree of control and placing my trust in my colleagues. This has had a two fold success. Some teachers have taken more ownership of the Library and now see it as a central part of the school, it has also made me more visible and seen to be working with the school community and not just keeping to ‘my domain’. This according to Cheng (2002) is transcending your own self interest for the good of the team or organisation (p.102). This process influences values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours.

In his article Leadership and Strategy, Cheng (2002) discusses the different concepts of leadership and how they can be utilized to transform attitudes and motivate staff in school. He divides leadership styles into 5 dimensions, human, structural, political, cultural and educational; across 3 domains, affective, behavioural and cognitive. It was interesting to note that what the executive, and Principal perceived as my strengths and style was similar to what I chose within these 5 dimensions (Human, Cultural and Educational). This is demonstrated in the table below:

Picture1

The areas of weakness and in need of development were also similar (Structural and Political). For example the need to develop and sustain behaviour management skills come under the cognitive domain of the political leadership dimension.

To develop these areas of leadership, it is important that I continually reflect on my practices in the context of my teaching and learning and evaluate my practices so I can improve my leadership skills.

References:

Cart, M. (2007) Teacher-librarian as literacy leader. Teacher Librarian 34(3) pp.8 -12.

Cheng, YC (2002) Leadership & strategy. In T Bush & L Bell (Eds.), The principles and practice of educational management (pp. 51-69). London: Paul Chapman Publishing.

Everhart, N. (2007) Leadership: School library media specialists as effective school leaders. [Electronic version] Knowledge Quest 35(4), 54-57.

Fullan, M. (2004) Leading in a Culture of Change. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass

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