The TL’s Areas of Influence

This idea came to me when I was working on part of the collaborative project for ETL504 and was pondering the question from Montiel-Overall — what form of collaboration should TLs be involved in given limited resources (Montiel-Overall, 2005, p.41). I started thinking that bringing about collaboration is a very complex undertaking. Are TLs being encouraged to try to be ‘super-human’ by the academics? Like the assignment in talking about Standards of Excellence, is it all expecting more than is possible? Which got me thinking about Coveys Circle of Influence and Concern and the proactivity thing.

Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their circle of Influence to increase.

Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment and circumstances over which they have no control. …[which] causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.” (Covey, 1990, p.83).

I started thinking about the things we TLs had the most influence over and those we had less influence over. Is this a strategy? To work from the inner circle out? This probably isnt complete but gave me an original perspective on things that might be useful in addressing THE question — “How can TL’s influence teachers to collaborate with them?”

Covey, S. (1990). Habit 1: Be proactive. In The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change (pp. 65-94). New York: Fireside.

Montiel-Overall, P. (2005). A theoretical understanding of teacher and librarian collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 11(2), 24-48. Retrieved August 5, 2008, from Emerald Insight database.

Leadership Styles

On to the next chapter of Michael Fullan’s text/workbook Leading in a Culture of Change.

Everyone quickly learns when they enter the workforce that some bosses/principals are easier to get along with than others. We also quickly figure out that the ones easiest to get along with aren’t necessarily the best bosses/principals to work for. Leadership styles of course are what make the difference.

What I appreciated from Fullan was the idea a good leader doesn’t have ‘a style’; that different styles are needed for different situations.

The six styles of leadership as identfied by Golemen (cited by Fullan, 2004, p.43) are:

  • Coercive — demands compliance (“Do as I say”)
  • Authoritative — mobilizes people towards a vision or goal (“Come on, follow me, let’s go”) (How strange, I’ve just realized the root of that word is ‘author’ like a creator or maker)
  • Affiliative — harmonizer and relationship builder (“People are most important”)
  • Democratic — works for consensus through participation (“What are your thoughts on … “)
  • Pacesetting — sets high standards for self then expects others to follow (“Do as I do, now”)
  • Coaching — develops people for the future well-being of the organisation (“Try this”)

Fullan goes on to point out that two of those styles will negatively impact on school climate which of course impacts everything else: coercive and pace-setting.

The point to ponder in this section is —

Can you think of a real life example of a pacesetter leader? What is or was the effect of this leader on organizational performance and morale.

Well now I have to confess that I made a lame effort at being a pacesetter last year at the school. I was feeling frustrated with the lack of interest on the part of the teachers in learning to use web 2.0 technologies to motivate and engage students. I began to set up all kinds of things for the teachers and students to use beyond their email (used by teachers only). I spoke about them at staff meetings, I attempted to set up tutoring sessions to show them how, I even went into classes to show the students how to use some of the tools. I somehow thought that if they saw all these wonderful things the teachers would feel 1) that they were missing out on something, 2) that they’d better do something about it because the students were missing out on something.

Effect on organisational performance and morale? None.

Personal result? Exhausted from getting no where and the realization that you are only a leader if someone comes with you. =)

I think there is a lesson here about collaboration too. Professional articles say we should be working in collaboration with teachers but most TLs do not experience collaboration. Many TLs are not even seen as leaders or equals in the teaching profession.

We are also told to lead from the middle. Will leading from the middle accomplish collaboration? I wonder what style or combination of styles are necessary to lead from the middle?

I’m leaning at the moment towards affiliative leadership being pretty important in making progress towards collaboration. We perhaps need to work on building relationships first, to bond with teachers. Teachers are particularily autonomous and many academics have pointed out that educational change is slow because of this autonomous culture (Joyce, 2004; Little, 1990; Cooper, 1988; Horton, n.d). Teacher librarians are in a unique position – we are teachers (as well as librarians). My last two questions are: is this unique position really an advantage? If so how best to take advantage of this unique position?

Cooper, M. (1988). Whose culture is it, anyway? In A. Lieberman (Ed.), Building a professional culture in schools (pp. 45-54). New York: Teachers College Press.

Horton, R. (n.d.). Teacher librarians: What are we? What should we be? Professional development from the inside. In Alia. Retrieved August 7, 2008, from http://alia.org.au/~rhorton/education/role.html

Joyce, B. (2004, September). How are professional learning communities created? History has a few messages. Phi Delta Kappan, 76-83. Retrieved July 25, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

Little, J. W. (1990). The persistence of privacy: Autonomy and initiative in teachers’ professional relations. Teacher College Record, 91(4), 509-536. Retrieved August 7, 2008, from Blackwell Synergy database.