Integrating Research Results and National Board Certification Standards into a Leadership Curriculum for School Library Media Specialists

Article excerpt

National guidelines and professional associations have recently focused on leadership as an essential action area for competent school library media specialists. Although for many years at the Florida State University College of Information leadership had been incorporated into the curriculum for school media specialists, faculty, prompted by a university-wide leadership initiative and feedback from the field, decided to examine possible ways to integrate an even stronger leadership component. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards tenets, which focus on encouraging organizational leadership, provided a natural foundation for curriculum development.

Florida State University College of Information faculty systematically developed a based-on-research leadership curriculum (Project LEAD) using a variety of formal and informal data sources. This research both validated and improved course content. Research findings substantively influenced the curriculum design that will produce school library media specialist leaders.

Introduction

The application of research to teaching and learning is a sound best practice in library and information science (LIS) education. Factors mitigating against this practice might be the 'inheritance' of course content, textbook-driven teaching, reliance on professor preference and perceived expertise, lack of time and other resources, and tradition. The development of a graduate leadership certificate largely based on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards tenets at the Florida State University College of Information provided the opportunity to apply research consciously and systematically to the development of curriculum without encountering the potential barriers. Grant support for increasing institutional capacity from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Project LEAD: Leaders Educated to Make a Difference, gave faculty the time and resources to develop a based-on-research curriculum. The "newness" of the curriculum helped to free the process from time-honored expectations, i.e., from expectations that school library media specialists need to know exactly what they have always needed to know. This research and funding led to the development of a 12-credit completely online leadership curriculum at the Florida State University College of Information offered as part of the master's degree, or a specialist's degree focused on leadership and the National Board, or as a stand-alone certificate. The curriculum consists of four courses, two of which are new courses, and two existing courses that have been enhanced. Leadership in Reading (new course), Leadership in Technology (new course), Information Leadership and the Instructional Role of the Information Professional have had the research results consciously and systematically applied to their development. Each course, the assignments, and the pedagogy involved with them, are based on the analysis of the research and its resulting prominent themes of learning communities, collaboration, leadership, reading and appreciation of literature, technology integration, analytical and reflective practice, and race and ethnicity issues.

Background

Information Power1 identifies leadership as an essential action area for competent school library media specialists. For many years at the Florida State University College of Information leadership had been incorporated into the curriculum for school media specialists, faculty, prompted by a university-wide leadership initiative and feedback from the field, decided to examine possible ways to integrate an even stronger leadership component into the curriculum. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards tenets, which focus on encouraging organizational leadership, provided a natural foundation for curriculum development. Research has shown that on average, National Board certified teachers are involved in ten leadership activities in their schools. …