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Building Your Own Professional Learning

Excerpt from The Secondary school Learning Commons  and The Elementary School Learning Commons books by Loertscher and Koechlin, Chapter 10

The Learning Commons has the potential to drive the changes needed to bring schools into the future, improve student achievement, and thus sustain whole school improvement. (Loertscher, Koechlin, and Zwaan 2011) Everyone wins at learning in a learning commons culture. Teachers as well as students get better and better, and school improvement is a natural outcome as everyone raises the bar on learning.There are several reasons why this phenomenon occurs.

  • Coteaching is a foundational element of program design. Teachers build on each other’s strengths and learn new skills and approaches.
  • Experimentation is an expectation in this rich learning environment. Here teachers can experiment with technology boosts, a variety of resources, and new teaching approaches.This happens both formally and informally to test new practices and teaching methods before they go viral in the school.
  • Evidence Based Practice or Teacher Research fits with the responsive nature of the learning commons. Everyone engages in reflective learning.
  • All teaching specialists make the learning commons their home base. They work with teachers and students on project learning and contribute to their specialty in the Virtual Learning Commons (VLC).Their active participation delivers new perspectives on learning and ultimately success for all.
  • Transparency is key to sharing problems encountered and building on successes. Project units are archived virtually, reviewed by coteachers, and redesigned as necessary to fix problems.
  • The collaborative environment of the learning commons encourages professional learning teams to build collective knowledge.
  • The learning commons showcases the best and celebrates sharing.
  • Flexible space is ideal for both formal and informal professional learningactivities.
  • Sourcing current print and digital professional resources for teachers is inherent in the learning commons collection building process.
  • Collaborative professional learning spaces are built into the VLC.
  • Social networking tools of the learning commons connect teachers to others and expand their professional learning networks.
  • Teacher Big Think: to ensure metacognition of what works and why, a collaborative session for teaching partners is designed as part of every project unit.

Activity 10.1

Compare the list of ideas above with another professional voice

Watch and take notes from Linda Hill, an anthropologist who studiesorganizations:

YouTube Video

Local Challenge

Challenge: From this TED Talk, what lessons could be learned by the staff of the learning commons and the administrators in the school?