Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Improving the Leadership Skills of Pre-Service School Librarians through Leadership Pre-Assessment

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Improving the Leadership Skills of Pre-Service School Librarians through Leadership Pre-Assessment

Article excerpt

Introduction

School librarians are called upon by professional guidelines to exhibit leadership behaviors. However, recent budget cuts within the educational system make it increasingly necessary for school library degree and certification programs to teach school librarians how to advocate for their positions and to provide programs that clearly impact student achievement. The Project LEAD degree program, described in this study, was specifically designed to serve this function.

Based on the foundations of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) to promote excellence and leadership (NBPTS, 2013), the Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS) funded a program offering full master's degree scholarships to teachers in the state of Florida who were pursuing an American Library Association (ALA) accredited degree in librarianship and school librarianship certification. Thirty participants were recruited from six Florida counties. Because the program emphasized leadership preparation and the development of a model for helping teachers transition from the classroom to the library, the program directors (two university professors) required applicants to be current classroom teachers who were also leaders.

The teacher-leaders selected to participate in the program completed a rigorous application process that included a leadership pre-assessment. The program directors designed the leadership pre-assessment with the assistance of an advisory board consisting of school librarianship leadership experts. These experts reviewed the pre-assessment prior to its distribution to program applicants. Suggestions made by the advisory board were incorporated into the pre-assessment.

Potential students began the applica- tion process by obtaining a recommendation from their principals in the form of a rubric. The rubric (Danielson, 2007) is widely accepted by school districts for providing professional development and evaluating teachers (Alvarez & Anderson-Ketchmark, 2011). The rubric is also endorsed by the ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) and is included in the organization's Teacher Effectiveness Suite (ASCD, 2013). The categories on the rubric reflect teacher-leadership domains pertaining to the classroom environment, lesson planning and preparation, and professional responsibilities.

Next, the prospective students who secured recommendations from their principals were invited to complete a scholarship application consisting of questions regarding their previous degrees, use of technology, reasons for applying to the program, beliefs about teaching reading, and collaborative activities with school librarians. In addition to the scholarship application, each prospective student was required to submit transcripts, GRE scores, a university graduate admissions application, and a degree program application. Students who were unable to meet the university graduate school admission and the degree program admission requirements were excused from the scholarship application process. The remaining students were designated as finalists. These finalists completed an essay detailing their perspectives on the leadership role of school librarians. The project directors, with the assistance of school librarian supervisors from the school districts, assessed the leadership essays using Loertscher's (2000) taxonomy for scoring.

When all of the application materials were submitted, the program directors assessed the leadership potential of each finalist by combining several scores. (See Table 1.) These scores included: the rubric completed by the principals, grade point averages, answers to the application questions, and the leadership essays. Points were also given to achieve a diverse group according to gender, race, age, ethnicity, and subject taught. The total of the possible points was 100. The program participants were selected from the applicants with the highest scores. …

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