Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

The Principal's Support of Classroom Teacher-Media Specialist Collaboration

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

The Principal's Support of Classroom Teacher-Media Specialist Collaboration

Article excerpt

This project was designed to determine how well the principal supports collaboration in exemplary media program schools in Georgia from the viewpoints of media specialists, classroom teachers, and principals. A pilot study was conducted to develop a survey instrument that could be used as the foundation for the exemplary school media program study. Collaboration is well covered in the literature, but information about principals and their influence on collaboration is beginning to be a discussion of concern. The purpose of the descriptive survey study was to determine the existing situation regarding how supportive principals are for collaboration to occur between classroom teachers and media specialists in schools where the media programs are considered exemplary. A questionnaire was mailed to principals, teachers, and media specialists in 12 schools designated as having exemplary school library media programs in Georgia by the State Department of Education. The findings for the study supported the researchers' expectations that media specialists and classroom teachers in exemplary school library media program schools receive support from the principal for collaboration. The assumption of the study was that principals in schools that are considered to have exemplary media programs provide support for collaboration for classroom teachers and media specialists.

Introduction and Literature Review

Effective school principals are normally the instructional leaders in their schools who guide teachers in their teaching roles. Although they are knowledgeable about what teachers do and how they can support them in their instruction, they are frequently unaware of what they need to do to support the media specialist as a collaborator with classroom teachers when they instruct students together. Unfortunately, most school principals have little or no understanding of the role of the media specialist in the instructional process. In a Missouri study that looked at the principals' perceptions of the school library media specialists and their roles, it was noted that the principals did not present a picture of strong support for the media specialist as a teacher. It is essential that the principal understand the role of the media specialist in the instructional process and offer support to assist in student learning (Dorrell, 1995). Hartzell (2002) expresses how important it is for principals to support school library media programs when he states:

Principals should support school libraries because it is in both their students' and their own best interest to do so. Quality library media programs can enhance student achievement and informed/ committed librarians can help principals enhance their own administrative practice, (p. 1)

Wilson and Blake (1993) suggest that improving student achievement is a topic of interest to principals; however, many of them overlook the school library media specialist's role in helping to raise student scores on achievement tests, mostly because library media research is rarely found in administrator publications. According to Hartzell (2002),

Principals often leave library potential untapped despite fifty years of research evidence that effective school library media programs-when led by active, involved librarians-can have a discernible positive impact on student achievement, (p. 1)

Information Power: Partnerships for Learning (American Association of School Librarians and Association of Educational Communication and Technology [AASL & AECT], 1998), the national school library guidelines, even in its title espouses the idea of the media specialist working in partnership with other educators. At least two principles in the guidelines support the idea that media specialists both need support of the principal and need to do collaborative planning with teachers. For example, Learning and Teaching: Principle 3 makes this statement: 'The library media specialist models and promotes collaborative planning and curriculum development" (p. …

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