To Benefit Student Learning: Facilitating New Opportunities for Collaborative Inquiry, Action Research, Innovation
Today, it is imperative that we make changes to our traditional school paradigms to meet the learning needs of our students for today and their futures.
We need to reimagine how we structure our schools to promote ongoing daily collaboration opportunities for teachers for the purposes of planning, with the explicit goal of improving student learning.
I think we can take steps toward this by restructuring and reimagining the spaces and roles of our Teacher-Librarians and Planning Time Teachers.
In the spirit of
- sharing ideas,
- integrative thinking
- collaborative inquiries
- being better together
- new pedagogies
- making school different
- Teachers Throwing out Grades
- Cultivating Growth Mindsets
- New Literacies
This is what I think we should try to promote more contextualized and skills-based learning for students and teachers alike.
We need to re-think the roles that operate within our schools to make change. We really need to think ‘outside the box’. How can schools and mindsets change when we continually find ourselves in situations where set roles, believes, and physical structures of our schools promote the status quo.
I wanted to share an idea I have had for quite some time now.
It is important to share ideas. If I am unable to make this change, then perhaps others will be inspired and have the opportunity! What I know, is that it is very difficult to be integrative, innovative and implement new pedagogies, especially when the roles that operate within the school are as set as the building itself.
Public Libraries are successful because they work in teams running fixed and flexible schedules all the time! This is a great benefit to the communities they service. What if our schools did the same thing?
First, I believe that we are not harnessing the true potential and power of the Planning Time Teacher. We know that we need to integrate learning among subjects. What value is there in a planning time teacher going into a classroom for 2 or 3 short blocks of time a week?
Second, teachers do not have enough time to meet with others in the school to collaborate with inquiry teams.
Next, Equitable Access to the Learning Commons is not possible with one Teacher-Librarian. Resources need to be accessible to all students, and wouldn’t it be great if we could make the Learning Commons open at all times of the day, including recesses, lunch hours and after school?
What if all classes in the school had access to iPads, computers, to drop in and work on projects at any time, in addition to the ability to engage in activities and learning including coding, makerspaces and genius hour and collaborative inquiries? What if the resources were there, and could be utilized on a flexible AND fixed schedule at the SAME time?
So many libraries do not have computers for students to drop in and use, and flexible times are not available when students could be working on projects and gaining equal access to technology ie., before school, recesses, and after school. What can we do to provide more access to students working before school, at recesses, and after school?
Finally, what if planning time teachers and teacher librarians merged to become ‘Library Teams’ with all of the resources at your finger tips, multiple classes, multiple schedules making the library ‘hub’ what it is supposed to be according to our OLA and CLA documents?
Here are some of my driving questions:
- What if we did not have traditional planning time teachers?
- What if the role of the TL evolved?
- What if the 2 roles of planning time and TL were not separate, but integrated?
- What if we had library teams instead of separate planning time and TL roles. I realise that many TL’s also do planning time, but that is not what I am talking about.
- If the expertise of the planning time teacher was integrated with that of the Librarian, would we then have a situation where we could have the library open all day, every day?
- Could we engage in and cultivate integrative, creative, innovative, collaborative inquiries and action research across students and staff?
- If the space of the library was shared among teams of Librarians, much like a Public Library, could free up significant chunks of time each week for teachers to engage in collaborative inquiries, action research and innovative and effective instructional design?
A New Model of the Learning Commons & Planning Time to Benefit the whole School:
What I would love to see is the Learning Commons open to all students all day long, and with multiple people being responsible for collaborating and providing cool programs for everyone in the school.
I envision classes coming down to the Learning commons to engage in anything from makerspaces, genius hour, and learning key literacy skills that are essential for students in our age of information. This can happen because the planning time teachers and Librarian are now ‘Library Teams’. Students could be actively involved in their own collaborative inquiries and actively involved in self-reflection and feedback processes.
With multiple teachers on the library team, this would also free up longer blocks for teacher teams to meet and collaborate – which is necessary to run collaborative inquiries, engage in action research, enhance professional development and promote & sustain innovative practices. The comments, feedback and expectations covered would be based on needs and interests of students, which requires skill from the teachers, and drives collaborative inquiries for the students and parents.
The enormous jobs of the Learning Commons could all be managed by the team, instead of one person. This could lead to more inclusion of more staff and students, in addition to allowing for all of the enormous jobs of the Learning Commons to be taken care of.
In conclusion, the Library Learning Commons would never have to close. Equitable access to technology including iPads and laptops whenever students needed them for work, whether it is before school, at recess time or after school. This is a key element of bridging the digital divide. Everyone on the team would know how to run, manage and provide support for information literacy skills at all times of the day.
If I could, this would be my new Collaborative Inquiry.This is how I would Make School Different! This would be part of my New Pedagogies for Deep Learning! This is how I would Innovate, put more emphasis on feedback vs grades, and promote growth mindsets!
I would love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks to Brian Aspinall for asking this great question in his post: How Can You Assess My Creativity? Here is his question: How do we stimulate creative inquiry with prescribed makerspace activities?