Make School Different: Think Like a Librarian


In keeping with the meme #makeschooldifferent, I have been thinking more about the philosophies behind Librarianship. I decided to think about this in terms of what I want to START, instead of what we need to STOP pretending. I am passionate about education and have also been working on a project for New Pedagogies for Deep Learning this year. I worked hard, in the ways I could, to try to make my own classroom ‘different’, and to think of it as an Education Commons – modelled after the Learning Commons! I continue to keep a growth mindset, but if I could, this is where I would focus my thinking next:

Let’s START:

1. Thinking like a Librarian!

School can be made different if teachers thought more like Librarians!

The Learning Commons philosophy has been out for many years now, and much of this can be read in the Together for Learning Document from the Ontario Library Association, and the Leading Learning Document from the Canadian Library Association. These documents hold the secrets for how we need to the standards of practice in all areas of the Learning Commons in our schools. They are brilliant, ahead of their time, and I think they hold the key for making our classrooms and the whole school system different.

I have been a Teacher-Librarian for 7.5 years, and am currently in the classroom. I love education! I love the Library and I love the classroom! My professional development has been greatly enhanced by by experiences in both. I have been in the Library a few years, back in the classroom, back in the library a few years, back out of the library, part time in the library, and now back in the classroom – I have a very unique view of the differences between classrooms and the Learning Commons. I think we need to merge the 2 paradigms of classroom and library.

2. Implementing the Learning Commons philosophy throughout the school! 


It amazes me at how the classroom and Learning Commons are not always sharing the same philosophy about school and education. I think we in the classroom need to move away from the idea that the curricular components of the Learning Commons is separate from the curriculum that needs to be taught in the classroom. We really can feel this way in the classroom where we need to ensure that we are doing the right things by having our fixed blocks of time dedicated to pieces of curriculum. Once the fixed block is over, we regroup and open up another subject for 50 minutes. Then we stop and ‘do’ another subject for 50 minutes. We can holistically integrate FNMI perspectives into the curriculum as well.


I think that part of the reason why the Learning Commons philosophy is important, is because it takes on a more holistic view of the realities of our world today. Students can follow paths of inquiry that take them to new worlds of knowledge including political, global, cultural, and scientific. We don’t have to follow prescribed programs, and lessons in isolation to integrate technology. I tried very hard this year to make things integrative, and make technology a seamless part of the program, versus an add-on. Re-thinking the models of how we teach to be more in-line with the models of the Learning Commons.

3. Thinking in terms of the processes and big ideas of the Learning Commons:

The secrets to making schools different lies in our ability to collaborate, engage in inquiry, integrated effective research skills, integrate resources and important literature, curate and organize resources, and foster a sense of innovation among students and parents with the various projects and technologies. I think that this really requires an overhaul to our current models of schooling.

4. Thinking of our classrooms as Education Commons:


This is the philosophy that I tried to adopt in my own classroom this year. I called it the ‘Education Commons’. However, the Learning Commons, and my Education Commons will not be able to flourish unless we move our school systems away from the traditional models. Allowing for Innovation!

Lets also start changing our Report Cards to recognize this paradigm:)

I will now share with you my dream:

I would like to pilot a new form of school, where everyone thinks like a Librarian!

My idea for #makingschooldifferent, Promoting Innovation, and promoting New Pedagogies for Deep Learning:

Instead of working in isolation in our classes, what if we :

  • worked in teacher teams that all shared a larger group of classes?
  • What if we followed storylines instead of distinct subjects? (I did try this this year),  and followed student paths of inquiry?
  • What if the teachers collaborate to add in the different aspects of the curriculum documents, while all together promoting information literacy, .
  • What if planning time were different? When it comes time for Planning time, the planning time teachers became a part of a ‘Learning Commons team’ that hosts 100 minute blocks to support activities including genius hour or maker spaces in the Learning Commons, thus enabling the teams of teachers to meet and discuss the storylines, assess, and plan.  What if we did this instead of having planning time teachers going in to teach an isolated 50 minute block of science each week?

If I could make school different, I would want to pilot these ideas in a new school. I think we need to start pretending that we can ‘try on’ new paradigms of education. I think we can foster new models of school to begin from the ground up.

What do you think? 

You have now been tagged!

Deborah McCallum:)

copyright, 2015



3 responses to “Make School Different: Think Like a Librarian”

  1. msbalen Avatar

    Can I join you in building the new school Deborah? That’s what I need to add to my list of What I need to stop pretending…that the current system can be innovated. I am an optimistic person but even I flag at the slow pace of change. I think you are right. We need to begin again from the ground floor, rethinking all the parts of the teaching – learning process and likely, redefining along the way. We need to keep this conversation going.


    1. Deborah McCallum Avatar

      Hi Julie! That would be GREAT!!!!! I really am thinking more and more that we could be better to start building a new system from the ground up – or new pilot schools that can demonstrate the change, iron out the challenges and inform new changes. A lot to think about! Thank you so much for your reply!


  2. This Week in Ontario Edublogs | doug — off the record Avatar

    […] Make School Different! Make School Different: Think Like a Librarian […]


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