Taking Action: Librarians & leadership

Mindlab Librarians & Leadership

Applied Practice in Context – Week 25

Sitting in the second of two Teacher Only Days this week, I was reminded afresh why our staff is in the business of educating boys, growing them into great men, and how working together helps set them on their right path.

The new Associate Rector highlighted key focus areas to promote discussion. Many of these linked to ideas identified through Mindlab readings, most especially for me the concept of community mindset, particularly in the context of our students.

Carol Dweck (2006) identifies one type of student fixed mindset as low-effort syndrome, which can manifest as a way of asserting independence from teachers, but also as a defense mechanism against the possibility of failure. This mindset could also be descriptive of some teaching staff towards collaboration, so it’s important, as I test my leadership reach, that I remind myself of Greenleaf’s servant-leadership theory, and focus primarily on the growth and well-being of teachers in my community.

Inquiry Question

Action Planning


With three of the five senior managers only taking up these positions at the beginning of the school year, I decided that the best course of action this week was to have some preparatory conversations.  These have proved beneficial. They served to lay the groundwork for:


  • sharing my Mindlab research essay
  • alerting the head of junior school to the new DigiSkills 101 programme, discussed with our literacy coordinator at the end of last year
  • inviting teaching staff to participate in the digital literacy survey, which I will publicize on Monday

This week’s planned actions have needed, for the most part, to be postponed until the first full week of the term.  To send out invitations to participate in nationwide surveys of teachers and librarians would have been premature in the week leading up to the beginning of the school year, and could even have hampered the potential reach.


The establishment of a new senior management team has prompted me to question my thinking about the differences between management vs leadership team.  Is it just semantics? And what do those differences mean in the context of managing a school library as opposed to leading learning in the school? Can professional librarians lead (or co-lead) co-construction of learning?

Hartzell (1994) writes, “To influence people, you must engage them. Without engagement, there is no recognition.” and that “part of the danger for librarians rests in the isolation of the job.”  This highlights the importance of on-going, intentional conversations with senior managers, heads of faculty and teaching staff, in order to remain visible, relative, and linked to the work happening in classrooms.

Leadership Imperative

Kaupapa Maori

Small Treasure

Until my participation in a Matauranga Maori course in 2015, I was well-intentioned but largely ignorant of how I could authentically incorporate Maori kaupapa into the library services. As Russell Bishop (2012) expounds, educators cannot afford to be deficit thinkers.  Instead, we must be culturally responsive “learners among learners” and I will remember this when collaborating with staff and students.  The school’s provisional NCEA results show a pleasing upward trend of achievement for our Maori students, also when compared to national data from schools within our decile band. If we focus on caring learning relationships with each other, and our students, this will benefit our whole learning community.


Bishop, R. (2012). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. Retrieved from https://edtalks.org/#/video/culturally-responsive-pedagogy-relations

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: the new psychology of success. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Hartzell, G. N. (1994). Building influence for the school librarian. Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing Inc.

Kaser, L. & Halbert, J. (2017). The Spiral Playbook: Leading with an inquiring mindset in school systems and schools. C21 Canada. Retrieved from http://c21canada.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Spiral-Playbook.pdf

Reeves, D. B. (2008). Reframing teacher leadership to improve your school. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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