Teacher-Librarian: Leader, Legend or Loser?
Welcome to my first musings, mutterings and maybes… Pernille Ripp said she started blogging to save her husband from having to listen to her rants (on a side note: if you haven’t ever listened to the podcast “How to stop killing the love of reading” stop right now and listen here), so it’s time to take the leap (and save my husband from my rants too).
So, I started a leadership course the other day….. lots of good ideas, but my major take-home was the message (yet again), that we should be writing in journals, reflecting, connecting and contemplating, communicating with others – heard it before, thought about it, but taking the leap? What if no one reads it, or worse – they read it and don’t like it? Remember, if it’s online it’s on my permanent record….
What has been the catalyst? Actually, it was an anonymous Facebook post on a Librarian group. I wish I could quote it for you, but I read it and moved on, yet it keeps repeating on me. To paraphrase Anon’s rant, she believed that the only way to get what she needed was to be a “squeaky wheel” but had been told that she would get more of what she wanted with a “honey pot”. The more I think about it, the more I’m truly vexed …
I’ve been in the classroom for around twenty years, and like most of us in education I’ve been over-managed, under-managed, mis-managed but I’ve also had a couple of miracle managers too. Those ones who somehow make running a great school with happy people look easy…I’ve been targeted and worked in leadership a couple of times now, and it is not as easy as those miracle managers make it look, but this time, it’s different. I’m in a different system, and working as a Teacher-Librarian, so if I get the chance to lead again, what will it look like? What does leadership as a T-L mean? Where do I go? My nomination docs recognised the relationships I’ve built and the leadership I’ve displayed, my pastoral care (of both teachers and students), my studies and work in curriculum, pedagogy and extension. ALIA talks about T-Ls supporting and implementing the vision of their school communities, the unique position that T-Ls have in seeing the broad picture of curriculum and pedagogy, building supportive and empowering learning environments, collaborating with teaching staff to offer rich options for all learners. But you know what? Social media seems to be telling me two very different stories.....
A quick glance at my social media feeds shows my preoccupation with libraries, promoting reading, inspiring deep thinking and utilising technology. Digging deeper I see amazing stories of wonderful T-Ls like Megan Daley, Holly Godfree, Shannon Miller and Jackie Child who inspire and promote the wonderfulness that a truly supported T-L can bring to a school Yet at the same time, my feed is also full of tales of woe, of T-L positions being cut, trimmed or starved of resources (Students Need School Libraries, Building Connections, Learning Librarians).
And so I muse. What kind of leadership can I display? I don’t work in a school or system with high levels of funding. I have wonderful support from my wonderful school community, but there are so many pulls on their focus. What would my dream job entail? What is possible? How could I work to build it? Who are my mentors? Part of this leadership course involves reading Steven R Covey, and promotes Simon Sinek, Brendan Spillane, Michael Fullan as people I should be paying attention to (do you note that they are all blokes?). I’ve worked to be more assertive, to not say sorry for everything I say or do (Forbes), and then had other women tell me that they’d rather I spoke “more like a girl” and caged my ideas with less confidence (not kidding).
So what is the maybe that I’m leaving this post with? Maybe I need the advice and ideas of others – those working in leadership, in schools, and in libraries. How can I be a leader and a teacher-librarian while working in a non-utopian environment?
All advice gratefully received.