The Library Learning Commons and Self-Regulation

I have been reading Stuart Shankers amazing book entitled Calm, Alert, and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation.

As I am reading Stuart Shankers amazing book, I am starting to think of the Learning Commons with an added lens of how to help students also self-regulate. As I integrate my new learning, I cannot help but consider how this changes my view of our Libraries, and Learning Commons.

The Learning Commons is the new term we use to describe the updated version of our Libraries. It is a place where people come together to engage in active and participatory learning. It is networked and collaborative, and it considers both physical and virtual spaces. It is based in a culture of creativity and discovery!

In my view, the Learning Commons is a very constructivist learning environment, which is excellent. This means that students are engaged in collaborative activities including inquiry, project-based learning, inquiry and more. Social interaction is paramount, and often means that students need to be able to interact socially. Our learning environments are not ‘quiet’, but interactive. I am striving to promote constructivist learning environments, while at the same time, promote self-regulation for ALL students.

I am very conscious of the fact that many of our students are hypo, or hyper-aroused and need help self-regulating. Many of these students are not on IEPS. Further, many of these students may appear to be misbehaving or self-entitled, appears to be compliant, quiet, paying attention and following the rules. But this does not mean that they are necessarily misbehaving, or complying. A hypo-aroused student may in fact be experiencing a great deal of anxiety and appear to be zoned out. Perhaps this anxiety comes from too many social interactions going on at once, or a feeling of being overwhelmed. Visual and auditory stimuli can contribute to a lack of being able to self-regulate. Maybe the Learning Commons design needs to also reflect changes that promote self-regulation.


As a result, I have new questions:

Is the Learning Commons a friend or foe of self-regulation?

How should the Learning Commons be designed? Often is a hub of learning – different students doing different things – researching, using tech, signing out books, reading, asking questions, making and more.

What about the TL’s who also must give planning time? Who becomes more important, the students learning in the planning time class, or the students from the rest of the school coming down to use the library for other purposes?

Are these in fact two differing paradigms affecting our school libraries?

I realise that this is a journey to try to integrate new thinking and learning to make better learning environments for students. It will take time.

What do we know?

First, we know that we need the Library to be a Learning Commons. A hub of activity, where students can from different classes come down for different purposes. A constructivist environment where students come to use resources, planned or unplanned. Resources can include iPads, makerspaces, art supplies, Green Screens, other technologies and of course, books. A Learning Commons reflects a flexible schedule to meet the needs of the various teachers and classrooms.

Next, we also know that the more we help students to self-regulate, the better they become at reaching their educational potential. Therefore to teach and facilitate learning without attention to self-regulation, the more difficult and frustrating it will be for teachers and students in the learning process.

Therefore, at this point in time, I can conclude that the most important thing to remember is that we all need to work together as a team: parents, students, teachers, specialists, administrators, etc.

A student’s true educational potential just cannot be realised if we are not able to work on self-regulation problems. It becomes even clearer that our purpose is to work together to do more of what the students need.

How do you run your Learning Commons in a way that promotes self-regulation?

Deborah McCallum

Copyright 2015



2 responses to “The Library Learning Commons and Self-Regulation”

  1. […] I have been reading Stuart Shankers amazing book entitled Calm, Alert, and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation. As I am reading Stuart Shankers amazing book, I am starting to think o…  […]


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