ETL 504 ASSIGNMENT 2: CRITICAL REFLECTION:
My understanding of the importance of TL as a leader has changed significantly over the course of this semester; in fact it would probably be safe to suggest that I never even gave leadership a thought prior to working through the modules and assignments for this subject. To me a leader was someone in a position of power and authority, someone to respectfully fear and submissively obey. I must, as Donaldson (2009) suggests, cast off any assumptions about leadership and embrace a new version of leadership. I now realise that this is leadership of old, burrowed into my brain from previous experiences in both work and social settings, but these leaders are not suited to the 21st century. This is because arguably, those type of leaders are not conducive to bringing out the best in people, they do not nurture, are rarely transparent and do not empower others to become effective leaders or even followers. In reality they stifle creativity, innovation and productivity.
Society has changed and in order to meet modern-day challenges, Mathew (2008) advises that collaboration is the way forward. He goes on to suggest that until educators adopt a ‘we’ rather than ‘me’ attitude, educators will continue to do only what’s best for their particular area of expertise. This, for me, is a very interesting thought. Being a teacher librarian is all about supporting, guiding and empowering others, it is the one role within a school where you are in contact with every staff member and every child so it is very much a ‘we’ mentality that we adhere which in turn creates a leader who is team-based and collaboratively focused.
So what type of leadership do I want to project as a teacher librarian? I see myself very much a mixture of two main types of leadership; servant and transformational, which as Stone, Russell and Patterson (2004) suggest comes under the umbrella of ‘dynamic’ leadership. When I hear the words ‘dynamic leadership,’ I automatically conjure up images of a leader who is extremely charismatic with a strong vivacious personality and is able to, for want of a better phrase ‘sell ice to the Eskimos!’ This is not me; however, this is not the reality of a dynamic leader either. I now see a dynamic leader as someone who is multifaceted in their approach to leadership, that is, they know when to lead from the front, when to push from behind and when to be just a member of the team empowering someone else take the helm. I also now realise that leadership is projected in a number of different ways, from the way you talk, the body language you use, the way you word emails, even the simple lift of an eyebrow communicates a message to the receiver(Rai & Rai, 2009), so it is essential that as an authentic leader who is interested in building relationships, I take the time and care necessary to convey the correct message and where a misunderstanding does occur, ensure that I dutifully and transparently rectify the situation swiftly.
Over the past couple of decades leadership has changed quite distinctively and much of it is due to the internet. As Tapscott (2012) suggests we are consumers as well as producers of information, we have access not just to knowledge but other people’s interpretation of that knowledge and their ideas. We are no longer compelled to simply accept a leader’s point of view, we can challenge their authenticity and value system against world views and opinions’ deciding for ourselves what is and is not acceptable. For subordinates this is empowering and in many ways, the new style of leadership takes the pressure off leaders perpetually having to have all the answers. The new style of leadership projects a more authentic leader which in turn inspires others to follow suit. This creates a space for learning (Aguilar 2013) within a safe context and opens the way for open dialogue. This also means challenging the status quo, considering and reviewing the way things are done and sometimes taking calculated risks when adopting changes where no definitive answer is available ( Mazarno, 2005).
For me leadership as a TL is not just about leading and inspiring other staff members, it is just as important to set examples for students on how to conduct yourself when working collaboratively, thinking of old problems in new ways(Marzano, 2005) and actively working toward a goal. This projects a positive role-model for student leaders to follow and take into their lives as productive members of 21st century society. I think this quote posted by Rebecca Sanders in module six sums up how I feel about the importance of leadership as a teacher librarian.
“The main mark of effective leaders is how many effective leaders they leave behind.”(Fullan & Ballew 2004).
Aguilar, E. (2013) Effective Teams: The Key to Transforming Schools? | Edutopia. K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies that Work | Edutopia. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teacher-teams-transform-schools-elena-aguilar
Donaldson, G. (2009). What Makes or Breaks a Principal. Educational Leadership, 67(2), 8
Jennings, M. (2008). Dynamic Educational Leadership Teams : From Mine to Ours. Retrieved from: http://www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=467027
Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works: from research to results (pp. 13-27). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ;.Retrieved from: http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/docDetail.action?docID=10089219
Rai, U., & Rai, S. M. (2009). Barriers to communication. Effective communication (Rev. ed., pp. 57-67). Mumbai [India: Himalaya Pub. House
Stone, A., Russell, R. & Kathleen Patterson. Transformational versus servant leadership: a difference in leader focus. Emerald 25, (2004)
Tapscott, D. (2012). Don Tapscott: Four principles for the open world. TEDGlobal 2012. Retrieved from : http:///on.ted.com/Tapscott