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Assignment Two – Critical Synthesis

October 5, 2010

Some thoughts as I leave ETL401

If anything, although comforted in many ways as I traverse through the material,  i.e. yes, I’ve made the right career decision, it never really occurred to me before studying this subject how much the TL is expected to be a leader within a school community.

This may be due to the fact that I hadn’t had any ‘close encounters’ with any TLs that were anything other than ‘in a holding pattern’ for retirement.  Then, recently, I met a ‘switched on’ TL (McGrath, 2010, August 9), who has helped me with mission statements etc. and lined up some casual work for me.  This has been a lovely and unexpected welcome to the profession from a graduate of CSU’s MEd(TeachLib). 

I was recently introduced to Harvard’s University’s fabulous Project Zero, in particular their visible thinking models.  The ‘I Used To Think … But Now I Think’ (Project Zero, n.d.) process is particularly helpful in reflective situations such as these, so here goes:  





Libraries were mere recreational areas.(McGrath, 2010, July 16)

Libraries are centres of learning.  (McGrath, 2010, 26 July)

Over the course of this semester, I’ve learnt about the sort of resource-based learning (McGrath, 2010, July 19, b.) and collaborative teaching (McGrath, 2010, September 28) that should be happening in school libraries – even though, in reality, this is not always the case

I’d never enjoy going to work and that all my professional loves and interests could never be encapsulated in just one career.

The library is ‘me’ and where I want to spend the rest of my professional life.

 This course has confirmed that the TLs job is demanding and challenging (McGrath, 2010, August 15) – both things I am not afraid of.

When done well, in a supportive school community, the teacher librarian might just have ‘the best job of all’!



I’ve always been a ‘conflicted soul’ when it comes to my career.  My first love is language and literacy, so I studied Broadcast Journalism.  I then went on to study law (while working in a bookshop for many years) with visions of practising in intellectual property law.  That plan was scuttled when I had many children, and the words ‘family-friendly workplace’ hadn’t yet been uttered in big legal firms.  I then thought teaching was a great way to get back ‘out there’, impart some general knowledge and share my love of literature and literacy.  I completed my DipEd in 2008 and began casual (primary school) teaching in early 2009.

 When I look back AND forward, a definite ‘book theme’ emerges.  It’s just a shame that its taken me so long to realise it.  But instead of viewing that as a negative, I choose to believe that my life experiences will make me better able to handle some of the battles that today’s TL is forced to take on, such as fighting for funding, resources and recognition (McGrath, 2010, July 26).

Blogs were for clever young kids with lots of witty things to say and I would never have one of my own.

Blogs are a great way of sharing information, especially in educational and library settings (McGrath, 2010, July 19, c. and McGrath, 2010, August 19).

Nudged into the ‘blogosphere’ by ETL401 course requirements, I’ve concluded that blogging is for anyone who wants to put their ideas ‘out there’.

(I’ve even inspired my mother-in-law to start one,

Librarians had a reasonable professional status at most schools.

This is often not  the case.

The readings and my personal experience have shown that they often don’t (McGrath, 2010, August 12).  I am still surprised by the amount of classroom teachers that have questioned my new career aspirations (McGrath, 2010, August 9).


This exercise also throws up the obvious question ‘I wonder what I haven’t changed my mind about?

I still like my original vision of a library (McGrath, 2010, July 19 a.).  However, I now have a much firmer idea about how I can achieve that ideal as a TL.  I now ‘see myself’ in the job and muse on things such as how I would persuade a principal to install an interactive whiteboard in a school library (McGrath, 2010, August 12).  In my head now, there’s an internal dialogue about how and why I would make things happen.  Things such as collaboration, more ICTs, books the students want to read, online projects the students could join to enhance their learning … the list is ever-growing and endless.  I also know that it’s not always easy getting the resources I describe (Herring, 2007, p. 30).


Probably most important of all, despite the many demands and challenges of ETL401 and after everything I’ve learned about the professional life of a teacher librarian …


I still want to be one.






Harvard Project Zero. (n.d.).  I Used To Think … But Now I Think.  In Visible Thinking.  Retrieved from

Herring, J. (2007).  Teacher librarians and the school library.  In S. Ferguson (Ed.).  Libraries in the twenty-first century:  charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42).  Wagga Wagga, NSW:  Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University. 

McGrath, M. (2010, July 16).  Initial Thoughts About Teacher Librarianship.  Message posted to

McGrath, M. (2010, July 19, a.).  ‘I have a dream …’.  Message posted to

McGrath, M. (2010, July 19, b.).  #1 Resource-based Learning.  Message posted to ETL401 Topic 1 subforum.

McGrath, M. (2010, July 19, c.). Thoughts on Topic 1 – School Libraries in Australia.  Message posted to

McGrath, M. (2010, July 26).  At the end of Week 2:  Further Thoughts on Topic 1 – Schools Libraries in Australia.  Message posted to

McGrath, M. (2010, August 9).  At the end of week 4: Check-out chick for books.  Message posted to

McGrath, M. (2010, August 12).  #2 How do principals ‘stack up’?  Message posted to ETL401 Topic 2 subforum.

McGrath, M. (2010, August 15).  #3 How the TL might make his/her priorities clear & palatable to the school community.  Message posted to ETL401 Topic 2 subforum.

McGrath, M. (2010, August 19).  At the end of Week 5: Further Thoughts on Topic 2 – The Role of the Teacher Librarian.  Message posted to

McGrath, M. (2010, September 28).  Further Thoughts on Topic 5 – Collaborative Practice.  Message posted to

THE END.  (n.d.).  Picture retrieved from

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