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At the end of Week 11

September 28, 2010

Further Thoughts on Topic 5 – Collaborative Practice


The teacher librarian and collaboration:  What does this look like in practice?  

As I began reading this section, I mused, what type of utopia is this?

Dr. Ross Todd’s 2008 article is very persuasive about the many potential benefits of collaboration to school communities.  Todd conducted a study into collaborative projects between teachers and TLs.  Not surprisingly, one finding was that further collaboration was more likely if the initial experience was rewarding for all parties, i.e. classroom teachers, teacher librarians and their students. 

Sometimes the challenge for the TL is a fundamental one.  How can a TL convince teachers in their school that collaboration works and will not only improve student outcomes, but also the work practices and personal satisfaction of the teachers involved?  A supportive principal is important for the TL finding themselves in this situation, however, in the end collaboration may be counter-productive if it is forced upon classroom teachers by an over-enthusiastic executive.

Perhaps the TL’s best strategy is to carefully seek out a sympathetic teacher and collaborate with them on a small project.  The TL must do everything within his/her power to ensure this initial project’s success.  

Ideally at this point, momentum builds and other teachers begin to see the benefits.  The TL shouldn’t be shy about publicising the successful collaboration/s within the school community.  The principal may be happy for the TL and collaborating teacher to present an overview of their project in a staff meeting. 

Once the benefits become obvious, more staff are likely to ask to run their own collaborative projects with the TL.  This happy scenario could fail spectacularly at this point if the school does not possess adequate physical and human resources for the the growing demands on the school library.  Some strategic planning should be discussed with the principal beforehand, so that collaborative practice may be allowed to quickly prosper and benefit the whole school community and not be held back due to lack of resources. 



Todd, R. J. (2008).  The dynamics of classroom teacher and teacher librarian instructional collaborations.  Scan Vol 27 (No. 2, May 2008), pp. 19-28.

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