About 500 Hats



Why another blog from a teacher librarian in a world filled with blogs by teacher librarians?

“She began with the end in mind,” will be my epitaph. As Covey says in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People if we begin with the end in mind all our steps will be in the right direction, so identifying the purpose of this blog is critical to its focus.

2012 wrapped up the end of my 40th year in education and over that time I’ve learned a few things, theoretical, practical and pragmatic that other TLs may find useful so this is an effort to give back to the profession and the professionals who have given me so much.


Who is this TL who presumes to know enough about the profession to write a blog that others may find useful?

I could boast and bore with a list of qualifications, publications and awards but more importantly…

I was born to learn I was one of those people called ‘swots’ or ‘nerds’ who enjoyed school and couldn’t get enough of learning. Teachers College in Christchurch, New Zealand and uni seemed my natural pathway. A colleague recently endorsed something official with “She has a habit of collecting masters degrees,” because in 2011 I walked across yet another stage, doffed my cap and collected my third masters degree – this one focusing on Children’s Services in public libraries because it was the perfect accompaniment to those I have in teacher librarianship.

I was born to teach – Teaching was my destiny and many of my earliest memories are of covering my plaster-rendered bedroom walls with chalk exercises for my dolls to complete and getting into strife because I didn’t them wiped clean before my mother came home from work. (Worse was being seduced by the rich dark green walls of the lounge room and discovering, too late, that the chalk scratched glossy paint and left indelible, undeniable evidence.) I did my initial teacher training in Christchurch in New Zealand and after a yer in an inner-city school, followed my husband back to Australia where I spent the majority of my teaching time in primary schools in the ACT.  More recently, I’ve been doing casual relief in NSW as well as marking the assignments of budding TLs from Charles Sturt University.  I also have a profile on a number of natinal and international listervs where I try to support my colleagues. In 2003, I was given a couple of awards for my work in integrating ICT into the curriculum and was given the Dromkeen Librarian’s Award.

I was born to write – I remember writing some inane story about a lost cat, the plot of which escapes me after so long, but the praise from my teacher for starting a sentence with “Now…” has not. Neither has the memory of a tough, scary Year 6 teacher who understood my need to write a ‘biography’ of Robert Falcon Scott and indulged it by letting me write and write and write throughout the day, without insisting I interfere with the process by doing the formal grammar, spelling, maths and history lessons that the other students were subjected to. Strong foundations which led to having the covers of nine education books displayed on my wall and numerous articles and columns stashed in a folder in the filing cabinet. I was also behind online projects such as Read Around Australia, Young Australian Reader’s Award and the Quizzard of Oz, and my name is now on Book Week for Beginners, The First Book Club and The Bottom Shelf. I’m a co-founder of the FAcebook page, iCentre.

I was born to have an opinion – As the child of two newspaper journalists I had no choice. I just had to learn when, where and how to express it and to whom, tactfully and respectfully – I’m still working on that, as well as learning to listen and value the opinions of others. “That’s b/s**t”, does not always endear me to my colleagues, even though it seemed to work for my dad.


What will this blog have that might encourage the reader to return?

I believe that the TL has a vital role in the school particularly in supporting teachers to design, develop and deliver the curriculum in a way that will engage students so they are eager to learn. But I know that there are many of our peers, principals, parents and politicians whose perception of the TL is based on what they remember of their school experience; who still see us as the ‘keeper of the books’ and who have yet to experience all that a top-shelf TL can offer.

So this blog will offer ideas, information and insight that can be used by others to enrich and enhance teaching and learning in the school. Underpinning what is offered will be a solid basis of knowing how learners learn and the pedagogy that supports this.

As well as being a reflection of what I’ve come to know, understand, do, believe and value over 40 years, hopefully it will also give the reader cause to reflect on their practice and the philosophy, policies, programs and processes which underpin it. Some say, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” but I believe we must always be looking for stress fractures and cracks and seeking to support and improve the model. Perhaps some of the posts of 500 Hats will encourage others to do the same.


Will this become a daily dose of professional development?

Probably not – my need to write is still being satisfied in other ways, but it is my intention to post regularly enough for people to use the blog as a regular source of PD, particularly those who, like me, live in a rural situation and who don’t have regular, easy access to face-to-face learning opportunities.

So stay tuned and join me on this journey. Make comments, agree and disagree, share your successes and suggestions, and we will all learn from each other.



Barbara Braxton

Teacher Librarian

M.Ed.(TL), M.App.Sci.(TL), M.I.S. (Children’s Services)




Together, we learn from each other

500 Hats

The Bottom Shelf

January 1, 2013

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 thoughts on “About 500 Hats

  1. Hi Barbara,
    I have just become increasingly interested in your blogs and posts to nswtl as I see you are quite experienced and have very well thought out ideas and practices.
    I am fairly new to TL, having completed my MedTL in 2012 after teaching in many schools for decades.
    This last 15 months I have been doing a block at a High School but recently failed at an interview for this position so am now trying to consolidate what it is I am as a TL so I can present myself better in possible future interviews. This is where I am finding reading your posts invaluable so thankyou!
    I am now trying to formulate information re TL’s so that I present with clear vision and impact on what this role entails
    Looking forward to reading more….

  2. Dear Barbara,
    I have followed your work off and on for several years starting off with The Quizzard of Oz at my previous school.
    for the last ten years I have worked in a small R-7 school as the teacher responsible for much of the learning as I was the only teacher working along side a principal with a part time teaching load.
    You have been and continue to be an important mentor as I strive to deliver the best possible lessons and experiences in our small school library to a multi-age group of students.
    Thank you for taking the time to write and post so that I have food of thought and feel encouraged on my teaching journey.
    Jo Bevan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *