My Ideal Learning Environment

With all the challenges educators face, it can be easy to get lost in the frustrations and road blocks. While those barriers are very real and deserve attention, our hopes and aspirations also deserve consideration. Have you pictured your ideal learning environment lately? I have. And it’s reinvigorating me.

Ideal

My ideal learning environment is one where students:

  • Guide their own learning by asking questions and following curiosities.
  • Explore ideas that pique their interest, thereby formulating their own units of study.
  • Work collaboratively with others both inside and outside of the classroom in an effort to pursue those interests.
  • Are encouraged to move freely while still understanding the importance of coming back together and being respectful to others.
  • Trust their own instincts and grow into responsible “decision-making” and “self-reliant” learners (Saxena, 2013).
  • Have access to the world, in whatever form that makes sense in that time and place.
  • Learn from one another.

My ideal learning environment is one where teachers:

  • Feel comfortable in stepping down from the stage and allow students to see that they don’t know everything, but they are interested in learning alongside their students.
  • Have ample opportunities for asking questions and taking risks while feeling supported and
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Guiding Principle Three

Create opportunities for project-based learning experiences that incorporate connections that flatten the walls of the classroom.


In my mission statement, I write that I hope to “[Create] authentic experiences that foster a sense of joy for learning” and in the 21st century classroom, one way to make that happen is to encourage project-based learning. Melissa Jacobs-Israel, School Library Journal contributor describes project-based learning as an opportunity where “[students] are learning how to develop intriguing questions for further discovery and research, investigate a topic, construct new meanings, develop opinions and supporting arguments, apply new understandings, create final products, and reflect on what they learned” (Jacobs-Israel, 2013). There could be no better place for this to occur, than in the library. In fact, journalist Suzie Boss argues that librarians should be at the forefront of project-based learning experiences in their school: “A key player to invite into these collaborative conversations is the school librarian or library media specialist. Their understanding of information literacy and digital citizenship can make a difference across the arc of projects. What’s more, librarians may know about students’ out-of-class interests through their reading choices or online interests” (Boss, 2013).

Through project-based learning, students are provided with authentic experiences … Read More

Guiding Principle Two

Provide students and staff with instruction and resources that reflect current information needs and anticipate changes in technology and education.


In 2009, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) developed a set of guidelines to help “define the future direction of school library programs” (p. 7) and those guidelines were then published in Empowering Learners : Guidelines for School Library Programs. When looking back on my mission statement, I realized there is one passage that I wanted to specifically target and further articulate: “[U]nearth ways to mirror what is happening in the classroom with the outside world” (Todd, 2014). This principle, as written by AASL, exemplifies precisely what I am hoping to convey to my patrons; a library experience that is rich with print and digital information, where both exposure and instruction are equally important.

I recently posted my mission statement on my blog and solicited comments from readers across the globe and one reader provided me with some very insightful feedback: “Could another librarian take your mission statement and would it represent who they are equally well? It’s like the mission statements of libraries or colleges. Many of them sound the same. We all are committed to creating … Read More

Guiding Principle One

Model the effective and appropriate use of print and digital resources to help answer questions and find solutions.


A group of librarians met in 2010 to discuss the future of school librarians and at the core of their discussion was the need to make libraries relevant in the future. These librarians determined, in order to do this, the goal behind their group would be to change the face of librarianship in the 21st century. Their mission, to help librarians around the globe “ensure that students are effective users and producers of information and ideas” (Bartow, 2010). While this may sound like a lofty ambition, one simple action comes to mind that will help me personally make this goal a reality: turn my screen so it is easily accessible to both myself and my patrons. When a student comes in a with a question, I do not simply provide the answer, I invite them to stand next to me and walk them through how to find the solution.

Not only will this allow me to model the behavior I am hoping to see in my students, it also touches on a number of other elements in my mission statement:

  • model a
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The Beginnings of a Living, Breathing Mission Statement

As a librarian, it is my personal mission to: model a love of learning and discovery, demonstrate my passion to help students become lifelong learners; expose patrons to a place where children and adults come to collaborate, create, explore resources, and discover new worlds; and unearth ways to mirror what is happening in the classroom with the outside world, creating authentic experiences that foster a sense of joy for learning.


The intended audience of my personal mission statement are those in my school community: students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Much of my practice as a librarian echoes Megan Egbert‘s beliefs as a librarian and a parent, “We should probably embrace what is here and use it to our advantage, rather than fighting with reality. Be involved in what your children are interested in” (Egbert, 2014). I am very transparent with my students, I want them to know that I do not have all the answers and that we are all on the same journey of exploration and discovery.

One of my goals as a librarian is to make myself visible and available to the school community as much as possible, I entered a space that was strictly used for accessing … Read More