Critical Synthesis/Reflection


            My understanding of the role of the teacher librarian has changed, or perhaps a better word may be broadened, considerably over the course of studying this subject. Through completing the course readings, reading and contributing to the forum, reflecting on and blogging experiences and professional communication I have managed to better understand the unique and challenging role of the teacher librarian.

            As I am currently an English teacher, my initial view of the role of the teacher librarian was a very narrow one. Such a view was limited due to my interactions with the teacher librarian at our school being largely limited to subject specific communication. My view was also limited due to my own schooling experiences where the library was a place where you borrowed books and studied in silence. I had clearly not realised how much the role had changed since the time I had left school. Such reflections are further detailed in my blog. (Johnstone, 2010). Another issue that meant my view was limited is that of my school’s focus and goals. Jody McDonnell, a teacher librarian at my school (personal communication, March 27, 2010) noted that when she discussed the term information literacy with the school principal, the principal was unaware of what this term meant, hence my narrow view of such a term.

            One of my first key learning moments was coming to terms with the literature centered around resource based learning, I found the literature very helpful on this point. (Haycock, C. 1991). From my perspective as an English teacher I am always trying to push students to be more critical receivers of information, therefore to learn about this concept was invaluable. However, having now tried conducting a resource based learning project with a group of year 9 students I can also see that research based teaching can be important as, in my case, it would have been a better way to scaffold the research skills necessary for students before launching straight into an RBL project (Johnstone, 2010).My forum readings confirmed the need for such a balance as many colleagues seemed to have the same experiences as me. (Graham Bebington, 2010, Brid Bowers 2010, Judith Paton, 2010). Overall I was pleased to learn of the pivotal role the teacher librarian should play in making students critical receivers of information as I feel that such a skill is vital for creating lifelong effective learners. (Johnstone, 2010)

            The practice of collaboration is another area in which my understanding has grown and changed. Previously I understood collaboration to mean speaking to the school librarian to assist with resources for an assignment. However, I now realise that a teacher librarian is just that, someone who teaches as well as providing librarian skills. While collaboration is a key role of the teacher librarian I also envisage it to be a challenging one as detailed by Haycock and Foley (2009) in the course readings.

While this may have been obvious to most on the course, the level of involvement of the teacher librarian in the collaborative process was a key learning moment for me as further detailed in my blog (Johnstone, 2010).

            Throughout the course I was also introduced to the concept of information literacy (IL). I found the readings provided me with some useful definitions (Langford, 1998). However, such definitions were problematic as the definitions were varied and the concept seemed to be a dynamic one. Here reading the forum assisted me as many people were trying to gain a clear insight of the concept. Deborah Hogan (2010) helped me in synthesising my view of the concept by suggesting that the definitions could build upon one another. I have now gained a clearer understanding of the concept and realise that the teacher librarian should play a key role in establishing an information literate school community.

            In conclusion, being a current teacher, I have learnt a vast amount about the role of the teacher librarian, so much in fact that I have only been able to reflect on the key learning moments in this reflection. My view has changed in the sense that I now see teacher librarians as leaders and teachers in the community instead of people who confine themselves to the library. My understanding of the role has also broadened, far from seeing the role as a static one, I now realise that teacher librarians should be leaders in the school community and should actively promote their worth to all stakeholders in education.



Bebington, G. (2010, February 27). RBL comment for point 1. Message posted to       ETL401 Module 1 sub-forum.

Bowers, B. (2010, February 27). Topic one comment. Message posted to ETL401      Module 1 sub-forum.

Haycock, C. (1991). Resource based learning: a shift in the roles of teacher, learner’,                NASSP Bulletin, vol. 75(535), pp.15-22.

Haycock, L., & Foley, C. (2009). School libraries building capacity for student learning             in 21C. Scan, 28(2), pp.17-26.

Hogan, D. (2010, April 20). Differences in IL Definitions. Message posted to ETL401 Module 4 sub-forum.

Johnstone, N. (2010, May 15). Collaboration: success and frustration. Message posted to


Johnstone, N. (2010, May 15). Kids, being critical really is critical. Message posted to

Johnstone, N. (2010, May 3). Collaboration update. Message posted to 

Johnstone, N. (2010, April 27). The eve of collaboration. Message posted to           

Johnstone, N. (2010, March 20). The role of the teacher librarian. Message posted to           

Johnstone, N. (2010, March 10). Resource based learning and the TL role. Message    posted to

Langford, L. (1998). Information literacy: a clarification. School Libraries Worldwide, 4(1), 59-72.

Paton, J. (2010, March 2). RBL and RBT. Message posted to ETL401 Module 1 sub-            forum.