Sunday, 23 October 2011

Visionary Leaders for Information - Chapter 5

The theme of flexibility is repeated in this final chapter of Winzenried’s excellent book. His clear message remains: the needs of the client must always be the focus of the visionary library staff. Our clients are our future. Rather than force feed information fluency to students, these lessons will only be effective when taught as the time of greatest need.
In order to conclude this final chapter, Winzenried reminded us of Miles, the final year high school student whose scenario was painted by the author, Doug Johnson. Projecting us to the year 2025, Johnson acted like a true visionary and presented a day in the life of a student who used his school library for all of his information needs.
In this scenario, we witnessed Marian, the school librarian, wake Miles at 7am, using an auditory interface to his school library portal, which he accessed via a device in his bedroom. Marian serves as a learning mentor to Miles, by giving him his itinerary for the day. His day is full of collaboration with students and teachers inside his “bricks and mortar school” (p. 99), as well as academics outside the school, using teleconferencing technology at home.
The final two pages of this scenario were especially enjoyable and satisfying for me. The conversation Miles had with his grandparents provided the reader with the ongoing mission and values that his librarian mother and grandfather performed, to that which were still required by students in 2025.
In a conversation with his mother at the end of the day, Miles recalled the words that his grandfather shared with him, when he told his grandfather that he was considering studying library science after graduating from high school:
‘He said that the tools librarians use change, the importance of certain tasks that librarians perform changes, and even the services libraries offer to support their schools and communities change. But some things, like the librarian’s mission and values, remain constant. Librarians still support intellectual freedom and fight censorship. Librarians are still about open inquiry and access to information and ideas. Librarians are still about helping people find and use information that is reliable and help them use it to improve their lives. And librarians have always been about helping people help themselves by learning how to be lifelong learners and informed decision-makers. And Grandma Annie, who was listening in, added that librarians have always wanted people to find enjoyment, fun and excitement in learning and reading’ (p. 112).
Winzenried’s book was a useful and inspirational read. It has left a lasting impression with me and has helped me to be a visionary leader.

Visionary Leaders for Information - Chapter 4

Winzenried (2010) acknowledged that the last 30 years of the previous century were unlike any other era in history. He proposed that if library staff can be flexible and if they keep their focus on the needs of the clients, the libraries they serve will remain relevant.
The author used research which was published by Lonsdale and cited by Hughes in 2003. The research presented stark facts relating to the massive fall in the number of school libraries that are staffed by qualified library staff. Over 18 years, from 1983 to 2001, the number of qualified library staff dropped from 55 per cent to a tiny 13 per cent. It was stated strongly by Hughes that qualified staff enable and empower students to achieve, ‘regardless of the socio-economic or educational levels of the adults in the community’ (p. 197).
Winzenried stressed that communication and collaboration are the strategies for sharing the amount of information that is readily available in society today. The author concluded the chapter by encouraging the reader to imagine change and to be visionaries for the future.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Visionary Leaders for Information - Chapter 3

The seven scenarios that are portrayed by each of the seven authors in chapter three of Winzenried’s (2010) book presented varying observations and predictions of all aspects of library work. The detailed depiction of Miles, a senior student in the graduating class of 2025 caused the reader to imagine how the inevitable changes to technology will affect the provision of information resources.
I found Johnson’s scenario to be the most thought-provoking and controversial. His credible descriptions of the way Miles went about his daily academic pursuits caused me to imagine the likelihood that the learning tools used by Miles will be invented.

Teacher Librarian as Leader - Strategic Planning

Davies and Davies (2005) provide many useful ideas for analyzing and evaluating productivity (assessment). The differences between a good leader and a strategic leader are presented. Guidelines for creating a mission statement will be useful when I come to write one for the Kilbreda College Library. The section on leadership wisdom offered practical, analytical and emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills of strength and courage were particularly interesting and relevant.
Welch’s (2006) article offered me the following tips:
1.      The three steps of a marketing approach (p. 25)
2.      Seven areas of a strategic analysis (p. 26)
3.      Checklist for data gathering in the market place (p. 26)
4.      SWOT analysis technique (p. 27)
5.      Mission statement tips (p. 28)
6.      Customer needs (p. 30)
7.      Objectives and goals (p38)
8.      Growth – not just more of the same (p. 39)
9.      Goals (p. 40)
Beare (2001) presented four fundamental issues: management, accountability, curriculum and teachers, and teaching functions. It was useful to me to read specific instructions about how long a vision statement should be.
Balnaves (1998) offered six concept maps, mind maps, etc. Pages 84 to 87 gave specific instructions about planning.

Visionary Leaders for Information - Chapter 2

In chapter two of Winzenried’s (2010) book, the author argued that teacher-librarians should lead from the middle, with a proactive attitude that looks for opportunities to constantly change and improve. I was persuaded to establish and maintain quality relationships with authority, which provided the springboard for collaboration and influence. The author failed, however to explain the title of the chapter ‘Manager or leader’.
Winzenried provided further elaboration of the leadership qualities that were portrayed in the previous chapter, without giving attention to the manager role. Is the definition important? Is the distinction significant to the role of the teacher-librarian?

Teacher Librarian as Leader - Communication

Mr. Savage (1989) seemed to believe that only men are administrators! With a sexist delivery, Savage defined communication, described the means of communication, the types of communication (including intentional communication and unintentional) and gave examples of rumours.
Mackay (1999) reinforced the commonly held idea that good listening leads to and enables good communication. His list of six steps towards negotiated settlement provided a useful tool to effective communicating both sides of the conflict.
Steven Cohen’s (2002) seven pillars of negotiational wisdom are:
1.      Relationship
2.      Interests
3.      BATNA – Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement
4.      Creativity
5.      Fairness
6.      Commitment
7.      Communication
People remember how they’ve been treated… I know I definitely do, so I do unto others as I would have them do unto me.
I picked up an excellent saying in Cohen’s article: “God gave us two ears and one mouth and we should use them in that ratio” (p. 184). The Manager’s Checklist is excellent.

Visionary Leaders for Information - Chapter 1

In his chapter, ‘Toward an organizational theory for information professionals’, Arthur Winzenried (2010) challenges the reader to consider the qualities of an effective leader. By describing the qualities of charismatic and transformational leaders, he allows the reader to compare and contrast the leadership qualities of each. His emphasis on the crucial elements of collaboration, team work and positive relationships enables the reader to reflect on his or her leadership style. This assists visionary leaders to aspire to the model that he offers.
I had never considered schools as organisations before embarking on this topic. Organisations that engage in  business transactions can measure their success by looking at their profit margins. It is difficult for teachers and school administrators to measure the success of their organisation. The ability by students to locate, select, present and evaluate information enable the display of outcomes that demonstrate the success of information literacy instruction. Knowing how to learn is the desired result. Measuring this knowledge and presenting this data to stakeholders is the challenge.

Organisational Theory - Innovation

Michael Fullan’s (1999) chapter on change presents eight change lessons on page 18. These only have power in combination, as he explains at the end of the comprehensive explanation of each change lesson. This chapter is from an electronic book that was available for seven days. Photos of each page are on my iPad.
Fullan’s (2001) publication is also photographed on my iPad. Chapter 2 is entitled Moral Purpose. It focuses on the most important attribute of an authentic leader: character. An egoist person is self-centred and an altruistic person has unselfish motives. Effective leaders are driven by a ‘making-a-difference’ sense of purpose.
Fullan’s third chapter outlines six leadership styles, which have been identified by Goleman. The fourth chapter describes those who bring their soul to school, as is the case with very dedicated leaders. The display intellectual brilliance and emotional intelligence.
Chapter five focuses on knowledge building and chapter six explains what happens when change occurs. It is inevitable that there will be differences of opinions, but leaders need to guide people through the differences.
Sergiovanni (2000) outlines six change forces. The first three generally result in changes in school structure. The second three are tightly connected to the mediating variables and are more likely to result in deep changes. His ‘unconditional view’ and ‘constrained view’ compares selfish behaviour by principals with responsible behaviour.
Rod Gibbs (2003) stresses the importance of collaboration and flexibilty. In the education world, the word collaboration is my favourite. Two heads will always be better than one. Students my ignore their teacher’s advice regarding research, but they can’t ignore the teacher-librarian repeating and reinforcing the same advice that their teacher has given them.
Gibbs refers to the real-life collaboration that occurred at his school, Barnier Public School. James Henri (1999) is quoted as saying that teacher-librarians can impact on learning outcomes. A positive relationship between the teacher-librarian and the principal results in information literacy. If the relationship works towards common goals and a shared vision, it creates commitment, purpose and direction.
Gibbs’ vision statement contains eight excellent points. Libraries need to play a vital role in supporting and building on classroom programs. Collaborative teaching means linking classroom programs with the development of information literacy through team teaching and the inclusion of higher order thinking skills and deep understanding and knowledge. The final paragraph of this chapter is very inspiring.

Organisational Theory - Leadership

Cheng’s (2002) article describes concepts of leadership. He described a transformation and a layer perspective of leadership. He listed three levels of leaders: individual, group and whole-institution. He listed three domains of leadership of influence: affective, behavioural and cognitive performance. He elaborated on his five dimensions of leadership: structural, human, political, cultural and educational. I found Cheng’s article to be dull and clinical.
The Saskatchewan Education (no date) article proposed that adaptive leadership means responding to challenges and issues that require new learning, new behaviours and new organizational structures. The seven key elements of adaptive leadership offer clear and practical tips, which are not specifically geared to school libraries.
James Henri (1994) stresses the definition of leadership that has been expressed by other specialists and academics in the field, being the ability to influence people to strive willingly for the attainment of group goals. He describes leadership as an art that focuses upon problem solving. Henri believes that vision “becomes the life blood of leadership when it is shared” and it is an art that “can be seen as the ability to influence people to strive willingly for the attainment of group goals” (no page). He concludes by listing four types of power.
Hargreaves, Fink and Phi (2003) explore the role that school leaders play in supporting and sustaining changes in education. They offer a good definition of sustainability in education and list five key characteristics of educational sustainability. They pose the question that should be asked of leaders and by leaders: How will my influence live on after I’ve gone?
Lambert (1999) calculates that collaboration plus communication equals growth. Commitment and sustainability are also explored. His “core of leadership” (p. 6) includes a very inspiring description about the authentic relationships that leaders should aspire to with their team: learning together, supporting one another, having a shared sense of purpose and being committed adults. Lambert’s five key assumptions aim to achieve sustainable, self-renewing schools.
What do leaders do?
They display observable activities such as the following. They communicate, share, collaborate, experiment, take risks, keep abreast of trends and examples of productive schools, confront difficult people and issues, encourage, initiate, employ, suggest alternatives, teach and take their turn doing yard duty. They display personal qualtities such as: assertiveness, empathy, humour, courage, creativity, perseverance, flexibility, versatility. Their behaviour is visible, chatty, proactive, disciplined, and they display lifelong learning attitudes and skills.

Organisational Theory - Teamwork and Collaboration

Law and Glover (2000) offer a convincing argument that teams are essential building blocks in developing organisational efficiency. On page 76 of their article they list five benefits of team building:
1.      Managing complexity;
2.      Giving a rapid response;
3.      Achieving high motivation;
4.      Making high quality decisions;
5.      Developing collective strength.
The table on page 81 lists Useful People to Have in Teams. The Typical Characteristics, the Positive Qualities and the Allowable Weaknesses of these nine personality types are described.
Law and Glover’s analysis of the personal qualities of the conformist, the anti-conformist and the independent is accurate and insightful. Their definition of a team is worth recording, “It is a group of people who understand each other, who know individual strengths and weaknesses and who co-operate with one another” (p. 83).
The work in 1984 by Mugatroyd and Gray’s is referred to by the pair on page 84. Law and Glover list four criteria related to effective relationships:
1.      Empathy: the ability to see another problem as if it were one’s own.
2.      Warmth: the ability to share problems.
3.      Genuiness: the ability to develop effective interpersonal relationships.
4.      Concreteness: the ability to recognise the reality of the problem or issue.
Pupil achievement stems from the following personal qualities that are listed on page 84:
1.      The quality of pupil-teacher relationships;
2.      The quality of peer relationships;
3.      The strength of positive self-concept;
4.      The strength of self-control.
The lasting message I will take away from this excellent article is that when effective communication
occurs, cohesion flourishes.
Beck and Yeager (1994) gave me new ideas as my role as leader. I have a reputation within my library team as being an open and clear communicator. They appreciate that I take an interest in their personal and professional lives. I act on their work related requests and grievances.
Prior to reading this article, entitled Making Teams Work, I had not considered the Levelling stage as a reason why high performing teams fail. The remedy is to get refocused on new goals, or new procedures, or new norms for utilizing the groups’ resources. These strategies are a catalyst for change.
At our formal meetings, and during impromptu discussions when matters arise, the group makes decisions after a problem (a SITNA) is shared. I need to remember that in my role as leader, I can steer the conversation in the right direction, and support the team members with their decision making. I now understand how important it is that I do not ask the group to decide, because they have shown that they do not have the leadership skills to do so.
I was very impressed by the following quote, “Groups like to have someone in charge. If no one is, a new leader will emerge or competing leaders will get into conflicts, or the group will start to come apart out of apathy. If you are not leading the group, then an informal leader will take over, and most likely steer the group in a different direction” (p. 194).
The two anecdotes, about Denise and Karen, clearly depicted disaster and success. For me, the greatest learning came out of Karen’s story, where she recognized the approaching  leveling stage, after continued enthusiasm and productivity.
I found the Barnett, McKowen and Bloom (1998) article quite amazing. It stayed with me long after I had read it. In A School Without a Principal they describe Anzar High School in California. At the time that the article was written, it had an enrolment of 450 students, and had been running for four years without a  principal! The article provides a model for problem solving, reflection and genuine communication. The authors had observed that the needs of the school, the needs of the individual teachers, and the need of the teachers as a group were carefully considered, like the vocational attitude of religious orders operate.
By leaving their personal baggage at the door, they collectively own problems and they collectively solve them by taking all responsibility for any problems that arise. I like their ‘fist-o-five consensus model for all important decision making.
They depend on each other’s honesty – there are no weak links. They strive for and maintain high standards for themselves and one another. What an inspiring story…
Jill Davidson (2002) mentions the ‘no principal’ model of the Anzar High School. She proposed that rotating teachers as Head Teacher provides leadership experience to teachers, and allows staff to engage in collaborative decision-making about curriculum. She cited the San Francisco Community School’s conflict resolution policy and collaborative management policy which is addressed on a weekly basis. This keeps these policies at the front of their minds, it “lives in their bones” (no page).
At home, with my husband and two adult (student) daughters, a team approach is practiced. For 10 years, a Sunday night meeting has been held over dinner, to share plans for the week ahead, to determine who cooks, and so on. When problems (SITNA) are presented, discussions are held and I will decide on the most practical solution.
At school, as leader of another part-time teacher-librarian, two audio-visual technicians and a part-time librarian, I communicate daily with each member of my team, on a professional and personal level. I am known for my genuine interest and I am happy to continue that commitment to their well-being. I encourage them to seek solutions and I step in when a decision is difficult, or if consultation with a member of the school’s leadership team is required. Interdependence is also encouraged, This semester has seen an improvement in the communication skills of my teacher-librarian colleague.

Organisational Theory - Decision Making and Problem Solving

Harvey et al (2001) presented good, clear practical advice on dealing with problems and making decisions. Their six step approach is easy to relate to and do. The first four steps are crucial.
I enjoyed the words of Clement Stone (1987) who said in an interview, “Even if I have a misfortune, I thank God, then determine how I can turn the disadvantage into an advantage.” This reverse paranoia, as it was known by some of his friends, can be regarded as merely having a positive attitude! Medical research can prove that negative feelings or reactions cause chemicals to be generated that cause anxiety and anger. These chemicals can stop creativity as well as negatively affect the immune system.
A SITNA , a Situation that Needs Attention, shows a more positive outlook than defining a difficult situation as a ‘problem’. The authors describe four useful steps in defining a problem. A solution criteria separates needs from wants. The mind map is a valuable tool for working through the six step process of decision making.
Hough and Paine (1997) outline the reasons to use collaboration in the workplace. Their explanations of different techniques are helpful in evaluating what strategies work. The techniques they describe are: autocratic, bureaucratic, consultative and collegial. They claim that decisions that are made by committees are usually subject to review by an executive committee. Collaborative decision making is strongly associated with teams and teamwork.

Organisational Theory - Quality Management

Myron Tribus (no date) gives a very dry attempt at explaining quality management in education. He uses a table that spans three pages (3 to 5) to compare traditional management with quality management. He maintains that schools should provide education in four categories: knowledge, know-how, wisdom and character (p. 14).
Tribus’ four categories can be used to enhance the image of the teacher-librarian to the rest of the school, and can be used to assist students to become adept at using their skills to manage team activities by setting priorities, working together and developing social skills. He believes that teachers should be coaches rather than teachers (p. 15).
The Quality Learning Australia website at promotes efficiency and effectiveness. Its focus is on:
·         Systems (defining excellence)
·         People (motivation, leadership, relationships)
·         Knowledge (planning for improvement)
·         Variation (data to drive improvement)
Streeton Primary School’s The 12 quality principles, devised in 2000 impressed me, especially the following favourites:
1.      Organizational alignment – shared goals (using the analogy of the whole team being on the same train, travelling in the same direction).
2.      Work to a plan (plan driven, not event driven).
3.      All of our clients have needs.
5.      Enthusiasm equals motivation.
6.      Continual improvement and innovation depend on continual learning.
7.      Results are improved when empowered people work together with enthusiasm – good relationships.
8.      Data identifies opportunities for improvement.
11. Sustainability is determined by our ability to meet the needs of each student in the context of   
      society’s current and future needs.
12. A team that brings together a range of people whose individuality sparkles.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Organisational Theory

Nigel Bennett (2001) stated that school effectiveness can be maximized if the school is viewed as an organization. Its structure, its culture and its power are crucial considerations. I agree with him that members who view their workplace as an organization will regard it ‘as having the capacity to adopt and grow in relation to its environment’ (p. 101).
The physical structure of the school library that I have taught in for ten years and been leader of for six of those years is where the 4.2 members of the library team work each day to meet the need of the 1,000 students in the Kilbreda College community. The library is designed to enable students to find, evaluate and use print and digital resources. Meeting the needs of students and staff dictates the work structure. While each of us has a unique job description, our task structures often merge as we endeavour to provide the resources that will cater for the teaching and learning that occurs in our Years 7 to 10 campus.
Creating a Procedures Folder has created tension this year, particularly when one member of the team had knowledge of a procedure that had not been recorded in the folder. In case of illness, or the departure from the school, the lack of this knowledge can cripple the ability to provide a seamless delivery of electronic resources.
Beare, Caldwell, and Milikan (1990) list 16 techniques that lead to the successful management of excellent schools. These factors become the driving force in school management, and shape day-to-day activities.

Teacher Librarian as Leader - Introduction

I enjoyed reading the introduction to the text that has been set for this subject, Teacher-Librarian as Leader. The title of the book is Visionary Leaders for Information. Arthur Winzenried’s overview of the remaining chapters provided an insight into how relevant this book will be for this semester’s study of Organisational Theory, Communication and Strategic Planning.

The introductory chapter of Winzenried’s book, Visionary Leaders for Information (2010), offers sound opinions on the importance of leaders as visionaries. The moral purpose of libraries is to provide knowledge creation. A clear plan helps to fulfill the moral purpose, as does responding to the real needs of users. Relationships between manager and client are crucial, as is the need for a strong product focus.

Recalling the history of early methods of information collection and management, including the creation of Melvil Dewey’s world renowned classification system in 1876, Winzenried stressed the enormous changes that personal computers have made to the accessibility of information, and the speed that this information can be located. This phenomenon opened a new door for the library professional, that of importing data correctly and thoroughly, to ensure that information seekers can find and use what they need.

Jean Donham (2005) gave a direct description of the role that library media specialists play in their schools. They are portrayed as having a cross-curricular influence and conduct relationships with principals, administrators, staff and parents. They are given credit as being expert in the promotion of literacy, information fluency and the use of Web 2.0 tools. These attributes are listed and elaborated on in her article
Proactivity is emphasised as the essential tool, the catalyst, for change. Identifying one’s own skills and passions enables the necessary drive to pursue leadership. Realising that I am not an expert in all dimensions of my field is a wise awareness to possess. Her article has convinced me to create a vision for my role as the Coordinator of Kilbreda College’s Library.
Being a lifelong learner assists teacher-librarians to keep “sharpening the saw” (Covey, S. 1990). It is absolutely essential to be updating skills and expertise. Leading from the middle is the reality. Constant reflection and evaluation allows professional improvement to occur. The Annual Review Meeting with the Principal that have been conducted in each of the ten years that I have been a teacher-librarian or a Library Coordinator, has enabled me to reflect on progress that I have made, and to address goals that are yet to be met.
Donham stated that journaling “is a strategy that helps sustain the energy that leadership demands”. She suggested using four questions each day to assist with journaling:
1. What did I learn today?
2. Whom did I nurture today?
3. What challenges did I confront today?
4. How did I make a positive difference today?