A good Principal can enhance the learning outcomes of students by empowering staff to build and foster collaborative teams (Todd, 2008) with each other and especially with the teacher librarian (TL). The way in which a Principal views the Library and its role in the school directly impacts all that takes place there. If a Principal sees the TL role as nothing more than providing release for classroom teachers and supplying books and resources, great opportunities for learning will be wasted. Alternatively if a Principal expects involvement in the school, collaboration with staff and expertise in the use of ICTs, along with direct participation in meeting literacy goals and student outcomes, then an atmosphere of knowledge building and success is the result. Kuont & Weimar (2012) suggest that without principal backing, achieving success is impossible.
Principals should have high expectations of Teacher Librarians. As Harvey 11 (2009) states, administrators should expect library media specialists to be teachers, leaders, administrators, resource locators, lifelong learners, technology integrators and above all members of a cohesive school team. Kuont and Weimer (2012) seem to support this, providing evidence from surveys of principals and teacher librarians. The results indicated that most principals want to and indeed try to support teacher librarians with 90% stating that the TL has a positive impact on student learning.
The survey also indicated that principals would like TL’s to be leaders, but that many TL’s do not see themselves in that role. This could be for a number of reasons. The teacher librarian is often excluded from school events and many TL’s provide release to classroom teachers resulting in minimal collaboration. Haycock (2007) states that a principal has a large role to play in collaboration expectations and most TL’s would agree that the role of a teacher librarian is often unappreciated by other staff members, particularly if it is misunderstood by the school principal. Shannon (2012) advises that those principals who had previously collaborated or worked with a TL had a much greater respect and understanding of the TL role, deeming it important enough to include in support materials for perspective principal positions.
It is right and proper that a school Principal should expect nothing less than dedication, valuable learning experiences and involvement in school life, so what then, should a TL expect from a Principal?
Teacher librarians should expect a principal to take the time to understand the diverse role in which they are engaged. Principals should provide TL’s with a practical and applicable budget, support staff for clerical duties and touch-base frequently to collaborate on ideas and set goals for future direction. If leadership is a desired role for teacher librarians, then principals need to offer support and guidance in how that is to look within the school community. Principals should at all times remember teacher librarians are trained school teachers and while the nature of their job and classroom may have changed, they continue to approach their job with the same passion and drive as classroom teachers ,focussing on providing a valuable, exemplary education for children.
Harvey, C. 1. (2009). What should an Administrator expect a School Library Media Specialist to be? Library Media Connection .
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical Success Factors for Student Learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.
Kuon, T. &. (2012). How does your boss see you? Proof that principals value librarians. School Library Journal .
Shannon, D. M. (2012). Perceptions of School Library Programs and School Librarians. Teacher Librarian 39(3) , 17-22.
Todd, R. (2008, May 2nd). The dynamics of classroom teacher and teacher librarian instuctional collaborations. Scan Vo.. 27