In my experience, I have found collaborating between the TL, principal and teachers non-existent. Many of the teachers in this environment were male, over 50 years and had exceptional classroom management skills – in a traditional sense. As we near the end of this course, I reflect back on this time and realised I was very lonely. Not for friendship with these people (yawn!) but for professional exchange or collaboration. It would have been lovely to team teach with the librarian (who knew every resource location within the school) or enhance my lessons with new perspectives from experienced teachers however I was isolated. Rules were strict, only two library periods per week and staff were never permitted to approach the principal (only the heads of department). It wasn’t until reading Hartzell (2003) that I realised that this environment was unhealthy and certainly not conducive to learning – for teachers or students. Hartzell’s advice on organizational politics would have come in handy back then although I’m not sure Hartzell fully addresses schools where it is the norm to teach in isolation – really old schools, based upon prestige, heritage and wealth. I suppose I could have played the helpless female role so others may have a reason to collaborate however that would defeat the purpose of an equal partnership in instruction.
A friend once said to me, ‘all empires will fall, you just have to know where to push’ although how does one young female tackle such an ethos or empire supported by ‘old boys’, parents and of course the principal (whom I only ever saw from a distance). Lamb (2011, p. 30) warns that collaboration requires a supportive atmosphere and it may take time for some teachers make a shift in thinking of the TL as an instructional partner. And I wish I could say that I remained on staff and attempted to promote that shift in thinking but I did not – I left and to this day the school remains the same.
Hartzell, G.N. (2003). Building influence for the school librarian: Tenet, targets and tactics.(2nd ed.). Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing.
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. TechTrends, 55(4), 27-36.