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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A call to arms; the Pygmalion Affect and the School Library

When we reflect back on our school years, the teachers that we remember are the ones that lifted us up. That see us for more than what we are, the encouraging words of Mrs Tessarge in Year 8 History set me on my path to study Arts at University. But the teachers that were strict had their place as well. They struck fear into students. They demanded that you try hard and their expectations were indisputable. Everyone knew that Mr Jamison was not to be toyed with when it came to the correct uniform! He had drawn the line in the sand and he never wavered from it.

But if we blend the two, then we have an encouraging teacher that sets high expectations (Spiegel, 2012) and these teachers make a positive impact on student performance (Ellison, 2015). A colleague at a former school had the amazing ability to lift students up and expect more from them at the same time. He didn't just pay lip service to the "I'm amazing" Lorna Jane generation, he made sure that his comments were justified and genuine; "You are amazing because .....". 

I've been reading a lot about leadership in organisations and as a result reflecting back on the leaders that brought the best out in me over the years. I came across this article on "Pygmalion in Library Leadership" (Matthews, 2012) where he talks about the habit of Librarians, and also teachers, to say "I'm just a Librarian" or "I'm just a teacher". In order for Teacher Librarians to take their rightful place in schools as curriculum engineers, they need to walk the talk. They are not "just teacher librarians", they are curriculum designers, learning engineers, motivators, organisational specialists, information disseminators.

The role of a Teacher Librarian in schools is going through a massive change at the moment.

When I first started teaching the TL was the quiet Librarian that helped those who came to them. The Library was quiet and the curriculum support was understated. As technology disruptors were introduced into schools, it has taken a while for Teacher Librarians to find their feet again in this changing educational landscape.  Only a few school library leaders managed to make this transition work for them; esteemed educators such as Suzette Boyd who worked at Methodist Ladies' College in the 1990's and wrote a book called "The Connected Library".

Now, our Teacher Librarians need to be fearless. We know that there is a direct link between a properly functioning school library and academic achievement, however schools are decreasing their funding of fully qualified Teacher Librarians.  We need a "call to arms"; we need to be proactive, supportive, researchers and enablers of evidenced based curriculum practices. Others will treat you the way that you perceive yourself (Matthews, 2018) and Teacher Librarians need to champion the good work that both they and their teaching teams are doing in schools. They need to "brand themselves" and carry the flag for curriculum innovation in their schools.

Don't be silent; a squeaky wheel gets the grease.


Boyd, Suzette (2006). The connected library : a handbook for engaging users. Utopia Press, Hawthorn West, Vic

Ellison, K. (2015). Being Honest About the Pygmalion Effect. Retrieved from

Matthews, S. (2012). Pygmalion in Library Leadership. Retrieved from

Spiegel, A. (2012). Teachers' Expectations Can Influence How Students Perform. Retrieved from

Additional Information:

Rosenthal's Experiment and the Pygmalion Effect. Retrieved from

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Importance of Citation

There was a great article from Melbourne Uni (Martin & Angelito, 2018) this week about the most cited source on Wikipedia and it got me thinking about how we teach citation and referencing in our schools.

Citation and referencing has an important role not only in academic work but also from the perspective of teaching students about acknowledgement and gratitude.

When we give students handouts or direct them towards information that might aid them in their academic work, we need to acknowledge why that information is important or credible to our subject areas. Have we communicated to them the importance of running their information through a CRAPP test to see if it is worth while? Is there an author present? If not, should we question it's credibility? 

Including a citation and reference list on our day-to-day teaching resources reinforces that we did not create this information, we curated it and when we ask students to do the same, we have led by example. It takes a village, and we need to acknowledge that village.

"It is hard to expect respect when we don't show it", the same motto can be used with citation and referencing.

When was the last time you included a citation in your work? Did you include a reference list? Or was it all a bit too hard. Were you a bit too time pressed to acknowledge that the photocopied notes are in fact someone else's hard work? Then how can we expect our students to regularly use citation and referencing in their work?

And if you are not sure how to introduce this to your students, have a chat with your friendly Teacher Librarian (that is ... if you are lucky enough to have one in your school).


Martin, D., & Angelito, C. (2018). Who’s citing whom and who’s citing what. Retrieved from

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Teaching about 'The Art of Gratitude'

There was an article in The Age a while back "Is gratitude for the selfish and the smug?" that got me thinking about what we teach our children about 'the art of gratitude'.

Many moons ago when I taught in a small Catholic girls school I was taken back by the generosity of the students and the way in which they displayed gratitude towards their teachers throughout the school year.

I have never taught in a school quite like it since. These students, who were far from entitled, took the time to say thank-you to their teachers for the work that they did. Part of this was upbringing, part was the values that school instilled in the students.

Gratitude appeared in many forms from easter eggs to thank-you cards. At the end of each school year, each form group would collectively buy a small gift for their teacher. The total cost $20, with a card saying thank-you. This small act, even though it was orchestrated by the school taught the students that it is right to give thanks.
"With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognise that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves," (Berry, 2016)
Should we show gratitude to our teachers?

As part of the online Leadership course that I am currently participating in, we have to explore our values as a leader. Gratitude is one of those values that I hold in high regards.  This is probably because of the time spent at Methodist Ladies College in Kew. It was perhaps the most memorable of the various independent schools that I have worked in.  I have a "brag book" to remember my time there filled with letters of gratitude.  Twenty years since I have worked there and although I remember the projects that I worked on and some of the people that I worked with, it is these letters that I cherish the most. Some are from Year Level Coordinators, Heads of School and even David Loader, who was the school Principal. They all acknowledged that I went above and beyond the call of duty to participate or complete a task. I was only there for three years and I have handfuls of these letters demonstrating my commitment to the profession.

Contrast that with another school where I worked there for over 10 years and I have maybe three examples of gratitude. When I spoke to the Head of school about showing more gratitude to the staff, he informed me that the teachers were privileged to work for the private school so why should he need to show more gratitude than that. Needless to say that at the time, they had an issue with staff retention.

You don't need a letterheaded letter to show gratitude to your staff. A post-it on a 'Freddo Frog' or a thank you note for making the effort. It is these little acts of kindness which reinforce the 'value of gratitude' in the organisation.

How do you show gratitude?

Flylady talks about blessing your house daily. Taking the time each day to leave it in a state that is tidy and organised. While most of us struggle with the idea; it is a form of showing gratitude for what we have around us. Making sure that our classrooms are clean for the next teacher is a way of showing gratitude.

Marie Kondo talks about thanking her clothes for the job that they have done by treating them respectfully (Fujikawa, 2018). Not dumping that t-shirt on the ground but thanking it for the job that it has done and then either placing it in the washing pile or back on the hanger.

The WNYC podcast about Gratitude (hosted by Susan Sarandon), raises some important points about how we teach students to both show and use gratitude in their day to day lives. Gratitude is learnt and if we value it in our society we need to teach it.


Berry, S. (2016). Is gratitude for the selfish and the smug?. The Age. Retrieved 27 October 2017, from

Fujikawa, J. (2018). Marie Kondo and the Cult of Tidying Up. [online] WSJ. Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2018].

WNYC. (2018). The Science of Gratitude. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2018].

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Free Animal Bookmarks for your #schoollibrary

Some bookmarks that I made on Canva. You should be able to click on the images print them off on A4 cardstock.

Did your students enjoy them? Ours did!

Monday, April 30, 2018

What do I value as a Leader?

We were given some excellent stimulus material to aid us in thinking about what our values are as a leader. There are the usual ones that you would expect; integrity, flexibility and perseverance.  But as I listened to the stimulus material and digested it, it made me think about understanding as a key value for effective leaders.

In Linda Cliatt-Wayman's TED Talk on "How to fix a broken school?" she talks about understanding what is going on. Talking to students, talking to staff. It reminded me of the Japanese Business philosophy of Genchi Genbutsu. "Getcha boots on" and go and see what is happening. Dunn and Dunn (2016) have an excellent article about Genchi Genbutsu and summarise it as "Go see. Ask why. Show respect.”

An interview with Anneleise Hoogland (Hoogland, 2013) on gathering student voice emotes the same philosophy, "Getcha boots on" and listen to the students. What are they learning? What are they having difficulty with? What are their hopes and dreams?

I often get referred to as a "problem solver". I like to mull over a problem, listen to all different points of views and then come up with ideas to move forward. In that sense, I can relate to Linda Cliatt-Wayman's slogan of "so what, now what". Identify the problem and lets solve it together.


Cliatt-Wayman, L. (2015). How to fix a broken school?. TED Talks. Retrieved 1 May 2018, from

Dunn, E., & Dunn, E. (2016). The True Meaning of Genchi Genbutsu. rever. Retrieved 1 May 2018, from

Hoogland, A. (2013). Looking for learning. ED Talks. Retrieved 1 May 2018, from

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Revisiting Goleman's Six Leadership Styles

I am currently participating in the Australian Schools Leading Teachers Colloquium. It is a nine month online learning module which explores effective leadership. I was nominated by my school and awarded a scholarship to participate. This month we are revisiting the topic of Leadership and Authenticity and asking the question of "What are the typical characteristics of a good school leader"?

After reading through the discussion forum, it took me back to a time when I had to interview my school Principal and my immediate superior for an essay for my Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship). The focus of the essay was working with School Leadership from the perspective of a Teacher Librarian. Since that essay, I have been practicing as a Teacher Librarian and I have also swung back the other way, taking on a role this year as STEAM Coordinator. Taking me back to where I started in education, working with Educational Technology.

Both of the leaders were "good school leaders" and displayed worthy values, but both worked in a different way to draw out the best from their teams.

Looking at Goleman's Six Leadership Styles, I can see that I am probably close to a "coaching" leader at the moment when I have my Teacher Librarian hat on, but at times I put on the "visionary" hat when I am pushing the STEAM aspect of my role.


Campbell, S. (2017). 7 Character Traits Exceptional Leaders Have in Common. Entrepreneur. Retrieved 30 April 2018, from

Goleman, D. (2017). Leadership That Gets Results (Harvard Business Review Classics). Harvard Business Press.

Patel, D. (2017). 11 Powerful Traits Of Successful Leaders. Retrieved 30 April 2018, from

Monday, April 16, 2018

Gibbs Reflective Cycle

“Reflection is part of learning and thinking. We reflect in order to learn something, or we learn as a result of reflecting, and the term ‘reflective learning’ emphasises the intention to learn from current or prior experience” (Moon 2004).

In the classroom, we often do reflection exercises with students at the end of a project. But is our curriculum approach effective? Students need to feel intellectual reward from completing a reflective task, rather than a feeling that the task is an afterthought.

I came across this presentation about the Gibbs reflective cycle.

It looks like a teacher has created this for their class, as the end of the process asks them to reflect on a piece of work. The presentation is a short one but it scaffolds the students thinking towards welcoming reflection as a part of the learning process.

How do you scaffold your reflective tasks in the classroom?

Moon, J. A. (2004). Reflection and employability (Vol. 4). York: LTSN Generic Centre.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

High Possibility STEM Classrooms

Over the last few months I have been settling back into teaching again. For the first time in a few years I have a class of my own again, a gorgeous group of Year 9 students. The curriculum is fabulous; programming, 3D Printing, rapid prototyping, robotics.

Part of what I am also doing at my school is leading the way with STEM or STEAM integration.

I came across this video of Dr Jane Hunter from University of Technology Sydney, talking about High Possibility STEM Classrooms and I wanted to explore it further.

The integration of STEM in schools isn't about a well decked out "Lab", but a pedagogical change that needs to occur at the grassroots level.

The thing that struck me about her presentation was that she spoke about the importance of focusing on problem based learning as a mechanism for delivering quality STEM programs in schools.

Further information:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

#growthmindset and Independent Reading

One of the cornerstones of a school library is actively supporting the independent reading or wider reading programs. Every school has their blend of strategies in this area, ranging from structured lessons, assessment tasks, challenges to wider reading afternoons.

Recently, I was listening to the TER Podcast and interview with Carol Dweck about Growth Mindset and the role of schools. Having a growth mindset means that it is "ok" to give up on something.

I wondered at how this related to our wider reading strategies in our schools.

Over the years I have heard many school librarians pressure students to finish a book. "You can't give up", they say and then students just "pretend read" or slowly read rather than get engaged with the book. Strategies of three chapters or 100 pages might work for some students, but most will give up if the topic of the book isn't speaking to them.

They don't define themselves as readers ... yet.

Carol Dweck "The Power of Yet"

The growth comes from the realisation that it is ok to say "this book isn't really working for me" and students should be able to change course.  The student should be encouraged to confidently articulate why the book isn't working for them. It is then that a Teacher Librarian with an in depth knowledge of both the collection and the curriculum can assist them in finding a book that will work for them.

Students come into the school library or Learning Commons with distinct views about reading. They either define themselves as "a reader" or not. Those students that sit on the fence normally justify their answer with a "it depends on the book" and the reality is that this is true for most of us.

The strength of a teacher librarian is being able to guide the student to a book that they might be interested in reading. Using careful questioning to ensure that reading is a positive experience even though they don't see themselves as a reader  ... yet.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Downloadable Spring Bookmarks for your Library

Here are some spring bookmarks for your School Library or Learning Commons!

Download, print onto card voila!

Let me know if you use them, upload a picture to instagram and tag it with @konstantkaos