Part Two: Musings and mutterings
Updated: Jun 1, 2019
Welcome back, the response to my first post was really encouraging, so I’m venturing into blog land again. Many thanks to all the people who took the time to read and comment on a variety of forums.
Quite a bit has happened in the world since the last time I blogged, and it’s got me thinking (again!) First up, Bob Hawke died, and Scott Morrison and the Liberal-National party coalition were returned to power much to the surprise of many in the media. Whilst this is NOT in any way a political blog, it got me (and many others) musing about people, power and leadership.
My take-home from all the political commentary:
* People want a leader that they can identify with
* They want to know where they stand
* They want someone with a vision of what can and should be
* Good leaders are not afraid of change
* Good leaders want to get the best out of those they lead
My last blog decried the lack of female commentators on leadership, and some wonderful readers referred me to Brené Brown, and WOW! I’m glad they did. I’ve now watched two of her TED talks, downloaded her latest audio-book and put holds on some of her other books. What was so interesting about what she had to say? Brené Brown talks about building connections, being open and honest in relationships, vulnerability as strength, and how to “rumble” with the hard stuff – including those “difficult conversations” that many of us try to avoid. I moved on to Simon Sinek’s TED talk which continued to confirm my musings after the weekend’s politics. Sinek says that
if leaders talk about what they believe,
they will attract those who share those beliefs,
and who are willing to work to make it happen.
That’s all well and good, but what does it mean for me? The end of my last blog had me wondering… How can we build leadership within the context of being a teacher-librarian while working in a non-utopian environment? So, I decided to ask other teacher-librarians how they manage it, and wow! what a response! Three days after I posted this Survey Monkey it had had almost 130 respondents*, and after reading through the results and comments I know, I’m not alone….
Full results can be found as a quick infographic here,
but these were the ones that really resonated with me…….
My take from the results and comments:
The teacher-librarians who answered the survey believe that they are under-utilised and are desperate to contribute the specialised knowledge and skills that they have gained from study and experience. They are eager to be included in, and support, curriculum planning meetings. They want to have more flexibility to collaborate with classroom teachers to support student learning.
Obviously, I’m not the only one grappling with trying to advocate for what I can do - to the whole school community; students, teachers, leadership and the parent body. It seems to me that we TLs need to be having some serious discussions – those “rumbling with the hard stuff conversations” that Brené Brown was talking about. I know that people are advocating for TL’s and their skills. Australian Children's Laureates and groups like “Students Need School Libraries” are active in Australia, SCIS is devoting whole issues to the concept and others (Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell) have gone viral worldwide. But I don’t think that I’m the only one who hasn’t put posters up all over my school, and I wonder why. Is it that I don’t want people to start wondering if I’m expendable? Is it that I don’t want to look too feisty? I’m truly not sure. But the survey results seem to be telling me that many TL’s feel “separate and solo”, that they wish that their knowledge and experience would be better utilised by school leadership and teaching staff; and that they could collaborate a lot more with teachers to create great learning opportunities for students. The comments that were used to create the wordle were in some parts empowering, and but in many others they were frustrating or heartbreaking.
So, what’s my point this time? What is the maybe that I’m leaving this post with? Maybe I need to explore how TL’s as a professional group, TL’s who work in the same context as me, and (probably most importantly) individual TLs, can have those “rumbling with the hard stuff conversations, and advocate, not only for their professional practice, but also for the good of our students”.
I think we need to learn how to empower ourselves and advocate for our professional skills within our own schools….
no matter how uncomfortable it makes us.
* I know I said almost 130 – but Survey Monkey makes you pay to see anything over 100 respondents, and I’m a cheapskate, though I’m seriously tempted at the moment – the number has risen since I wrote this.