Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

A Theoretical Understanding of Teacher and Librarian Collaboration (TLC)

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

A Theoretical Understanding of Teacher and Librarian Collaboration (TLC)

Article excerpt

Teacher and librarian collaboration (TLC) is considered essential to support the changing population of students, complexity of educational issues, and increased information. However, collaboration has yet to be clearly defined for teachers and librarians. This article discusses four models of teacher and librarian collaboration (TLC) previously proposed by the author (Model A: Coordination, Model B: Cooperation, Model C: Integrated Instruction and Model D: Integrated Curriculum) and identifies five constructs in the models that can be used to evaluate the effect of each model on students' academic achievement. This article argues that high levels of the five constructs (a) interest, (b) level of involvement, (c) improved learning, (d) innovation, and (e) integration in TLC may have the most effect on students' academic achievement.

Introduction

Those who fall in love with practice without theory are like the sailor who boards ship without rudder and compass, and never is certain where he is going. (Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1508)

In education, collaboration reflects a shifting philosophical view about the importance of working together to improve learning. Teachers previously isolated in classrooms (Oberg, 1990) and teaching autonomously (Leonard & Leonard, 2001; Houston, 1980) must face the complexity of teaching "21st-century students," many of whom need basic resources, native language instruction, and greater access to information and services. Collaboration is perceived as a way to address these needs by creating opportunities for interaction between and among educators and those being educated (Dewey, 1963; Piaget, 1929; Bruner, 1968; and Vygotsky, 1978). Through collaborative interaction, an environment develops where teachers and learners feel socially engaged (Dewey; Vygotsky) and democratic principles are supported.

Efforts to share responsibilities in education through collaborative practices represent an attempt to transform education into a community of learners (Little, 1982; Leonard & Leonard, 2001; Pugach & Johnson, 1995) where each member is considered capable of achieving academic success. The dynamic interaction among members of a community created through collaboration invites creativity (John-Steiner, 2000; Pugach & Johnson) and innovative thinking (Moran & John-Steiner, 2003): two fundamental ingredients for academic success.

In library and information science, collaboration between teacher and librarian is considered essential in preparing students for a complex society where vast amounts of information must be understood and managed (American Association of School Librarians & Association for Educational Communications and Technology [AASL & AECT], 1998). Professional guidelines encourage librarians to engage in collaboration with teachers to create a student-centered learning environment. The guidelines also establish the mission of school librarians: to ensure that students, staff, and others in the educational community "are effective users of ideas and information" (p. 6).

Collaboration is also extensively promoted in education (Sergiovanni, 1996; Fishbaugh, 1997; Pugach & Johnson, 1995) as a way of improving teaching and learning. Most discussions of collaboration in education involve teachers, principals, special educators, parents, and other school communities. Noticeably absent from the literature in education are discussions involving collaboration between teachers and librarians (Leonard & Leonard, 2001, 2003; Pugach & Johnson; Fishbaugh; Hart, 1998; Houston, 1980). It could be argued that this is due to a lack of understanding about the changing roles of librarians. It might also be the result of a lack of clarity about collaboration and the development of collaborative relationships between teachers and librarians. Although both are equally important, in this article I attempt to advance an understanding of collaboration between teacher and librarian previously discussed (Montiel-Overall, 2005). …

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