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Librarians and teachers as research partners: reshaping practices based on assessment and reflection

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Title:Librarians and teachers as research partners: reshaping practices based on assessment and reflection
Authors:Harada, Violet H.
Date Issued:2005
Citation:Harada, V. H. (2005). Librarians and teachers as research partners: Reshaping practices based on assessment and reflection. School Libraries Worldwide, 11(2), 49-72. Prepublication version.

The key to building instructional leadership is empowering partners to examine their
teaching practices through the lens of actual student behaviors. Practitioners effectively gain this knowledge when they collaborate with colleagues in implementing strategies,
reflecting on the results, and sharing them with the professional community (York-Barr
& Duke, 2004). This learning is situated in practice and must be learned in practice. In
short, schools are places where educators as well as students learn (Hiebert, Gallimore &
Stigler, 2002; Ball & Cohen, 1999).

Frequent critical reflection is a formal and central part of inquiry. The idea of reflective
practice, which was originally popularized by Donald Schon (1983), emphasizes that the
tacit knowledge implicit in professional actions must be described through a process of
observation and reflection. Mezirow (2000) states that such learning is transformative;
that is, meaning is made by negotiating interpretations, using contextual understanding,
critically reflecting on assumptions, and validating meaning by assessing rationales.
Proponents of the notion of reflection-in-action maintain that this results in elaborating
frames of reference, learning new frames, altering points of view, and transforming habits
of mind (Mitchell, 2003; McNiff, 2002; McKernan, 1996; Schon, 1983).

The process of reflection is not necessarily a private activity. Research on restructuring schools indicates that teachers in effective schools do not operate in isolation (Newmann & Wehlage 1995). Student achievement is related to teachers being collaboratively responsible for student learning. McGregor (2004) stipulates that library media specialists must situate themselves “solidly in the middle of this collaboration” (202). As key members of school communities, they have a crucial stake in contributing to the quality of teaching that shapes student learning.

Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning (AASL & AECT, 1998) places
student learning unequivocally at the core of services provided by the library media
center. As instructional colleagues, library media specialists are strategically positioned
to assume a leadership role in curriculum reform (Lance, 2003; Doiron & Davies, 1998;
Todd, 1997; Woolls, 1997; Stripling, 1995). They help to resolve instructional problems
and model reflective practice. Information Power states that “leadership is demonstrated
when information literacy is integrated across all subjects and grades, when connections
are made between information-based learning and the skills students will need in the
workplace and home” (AASL & AECT, 1998, 52).

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