Assessment 3 : The Role of the Teacher Librarian with Regard to Constructivist Learning and the Australian Curriculum

The Teacher Librarian (TL) has an essential role in teaching the Australian Curriculum.There are many opportunities to integrate constructivist learning and to embed information literacy (IL) within the curriculum. There are also a number of challenges, not least of which is that (IL) is not included as a separate subject or learning area (Lupton, 2012). The Australian Curriculum is broad-ranging with the inclusion of Learning Areas, General Capabilities, Cross-Curriculum Priorities, Student Diversity, and for senior secondary students, specific subjects (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2008). The implications for the TL are a great deal of work and many opportunities for collaboration. The fact that the curriculum is to be implemented in stages makes the job of the TL easier.

In the Australian Curriculum the TL has the opportunity to collaborate with teachers and to become involved in programming and assessment. The TL can help ensure programs are based on authentic questions or problems and follow an inquiry based framework. IL skills and knowledge will be taught so students can form new knowledge and connect it to existing knowledge (Todd, 2001). Formative assessment can become an integral part of teaching and learning as the TL and teachers work together to help students learn most effectively (Gordon, 2009). A number of factors need to come together for this to occur. TLs need to be sensitive to the concerns of the classroom teacher and gain trust by demonstrating the value they can add. This may need to be achieved gradually, depending on the school and the level of support offered by the principal.

There are obvious opportunities for TL involvement in the area of General Capabilities. The classroom teacher will be mostly focussed on the content of a particular subject or learning area while the TL can ensure the General Capabilities are covered during project based learning (PBL) (Combes, 2013). Here the TL can take the opportunity to support the students’ development of IL skills so they can locate and use information to construct new knowledge. Likewise student diversity can be addressed through a constructivist approach. As the value the TL can add becomes more evident across the school, models such as Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP), with its ‘Zones of Intervention’ will ensure students receive support at the point of need (Kuhlthau, 2012). Depending on the school, it may be the TL’s responsibility to  introduce different models and teach these to the teachers. Again, the level of principal support will influence the outcome.

Variance in subject areas with regard to IL has been noted by Mandy Lupton (Lupton, 2012). Lupton looks at science, history and geography, pointing out discrepancies in inclusion and expectations concerning IL. Lupton sees a responsibility for the TL in sequencing and developing consistency among subjects. This does seem to be a valid point and achievable with whole school cooperation. If the TL can establish a cohesive framework for IL learning then students will be better able to develop their skills and construct their own knowledge.

The TL needs to have a working knowledge of Web 2.0 tools to make learning engaging and relevant (Educational Origami, 2013). Bloom’s DigitalTaxonomy can be introduced to staff who are not already familiar with it, as it explains how various tools and technologies can enhance learning ( Educational Origami, 2013). The TL must be prepared to take a leadership role.


Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2008). The Australian curriculum. Retrieved from

Combes, B. (2013, October 21). Transcript of online discussion. ETL 501 Assignment 2. Retrieved from

Educational Origami. (2013). Blooms digital taxonomyRetrieved from

Educational Origami. (2013). WEB 2.0 tools. Retrieved from

Gordon, C.A. (2009). An emerging theory for evidence-based information literacy instruction in school libraries, Part 2: Building a culture of inquiry. Evidence based library and information practice, 4 (3), 19-45. Retrieved from

Kuhlthau, C. (2012). Guided inquiry design: a framework for inquiry in your school. The research behind the design, pp 17-36. Retrieved from

Lupton, M. (2012). Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum. Access, 26(2), 12-18. Retrieved from

Todd, R.J. (2012). School libraries and the development of intellectual agency: Evidence from New Jersey. School Library Research, 15, 1-29. Retrieved from

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The role of the Teacher Librarian in enlisting Principal support is essential and many-faceted. As the head administrator and the person responsible for approving budgets, the Principal must be informed and engaged regarding the role of the Library and the Teacher Librarian in the school. As the person ultimately responsible for the successful education of the students, the Principal must have confidence in the credentials and effectiveness of the Teacher Librarian. Through a variety of practices including collaboration, communication, high visibility and professional approach to education – particularly information literacy – the Teacher Librarian must do all s/he can do to ensure the Principal is supportive.

Collaboration with the school community is essential at all levels. The School Library Media Specialist Table (Harvey, 2009) notes that collaboration with teachers is necessary to plan, instruct and evaluate student learning. This can take place in staff meetings, the library, the classroom or computer lab. Collaboration with administrators should occur to implement school-wide initiatives and the school improvement plan, or vision.The Teacher Librarian needs to contribute knowledge about inquiry-based learning, methods of locating resources and ways of integrating technology. Flexibility, mutual respect, purpose and a commitment to shared values are also needed for effective collaboration. Farmer says it is useful to share evidence of successful collaboration between Teacher Librarians and Teachers in order to build and perpetuate the support of the Principal. This can be achieved by providing data analysis demonstrating the effect of the Teacher Librarian collaboration in supporting student achievement. (Farmer, 2007, p.62)

Frequent and effective communication is important if the Principal is to perceive the Teacher Librarian as an integral part of the school. (Haycock, 2007, p.28) This can be achieved both formally and informally. Active participation in meetings, emails relating to everything from new resources to suggestions for lesson plans, articles for the school newsletter, informal conversations in the staffroom and announcements at school assembly can all form part of this communication. Network meetings provide a broader perspective and can be a source of encouragement and new ideas. Farmer notes that as well as gaining the Principal’s commitment to the value of the library with regard to funding and management decisions, it is also important to communicate thanks by publicly recognising the this support. (Farmer, 2007, p.62)

Closely aligned with effective communication is high visibility of the teacher Librarian within the school community. (Morris, 2007, p.23) Involvement in whole school programs and activities is another way demonstrating understanding of school goals and a shared vision. (Oberg, 2006, p.16) Participation in Committees, attendance at Parents and Friends Meetings and support of events such as school dances and fundraisers demonstrates a broader view on the part of the Teacher Librarian and increases his/her profile within the school and broader community. Positive relationships built through shared involvement make collaboration in the learning environment easier. Respect gained in a broader context often carries over into more specific areas of education and funding.

If a Teacher Librarian is to have credibility as an educator, leader and innovator he/she needs to have the necessary credentials. A deep understanding of teaching pedagogy and a high level of skill in integrating technology would be fundamental in gaining the respect and support of the Principal. An interest in attending professional development courses and a willingness to be engaged with new developments demonstrate commitment. A professional ability to deal with issues such as censorship, cultural diversity and internet filtering (Oberg, 2007, p.16) avoids problems. An awareness of freedom of information and respect for reader privacy indicate a knowledge of core librarian values. (Oberg, 2006, p.16) The relationship between a Principal and Teacher Librarian is always evolving but needs to be based on a foundation of respect for one’s professional ability.


Farmer, L. (2007). Principals : Catalysts for Collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13 (1),


Harvey, C. (2009). What Should an Administrator Expect a School Library Specialist to be?,

    Library Media Connection, (Oct),  45.

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration : Critical factors for student learning. School Libraries

    Worldwide 13 (1), 25-35.

Morris, B.J. (2007). Principal Support for Collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13 (1), 23-24.

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian,

    33 (3), 13-18.

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