Reimagining school libraries: emerging teacher pedagogic practices

Year: 2013

Author: Willis, Jillian, Bland, Derek, Hughes, Hilary, Elliot-Burns, Raylee

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Agile learning spaces have the potential to afford flexible and innovative pedagogic practice. However there is little known about the experiences of teachers and learners in newly designed learning spaces, and whether the potential for reimagined pedagogies is being realised. This paper uses data from a recent study into the experiences of teacher-librarians, teachers, students and leaders of seven Queensland school libraries built with Building the Education Revolution (BER) funding, to explore the question,  “how does the physical environment of school libraries influence pedagogic practices?”  This paper proposes that teachers explored new pedagogies within the spaces when there was opportunity for flexibility and experimentation and the spaces sufficiently supported their beliefs about student learning.
The perspectives of a range of library users were gathered through an innovative research design incorporating student drawings, videoed library tours and reflections, and interviews. The research team collected qualitative data from school libraries throughout 2012. The libraries represented a variety of geographic locations, socioeconomic conditions and both primary and secondary campuses. The use of multiple data sources, and also the perspectives of the multiple researchers who visited the sites and then coded the data, enabled complementary insights and synergies to emerge. Principles of effective teacher learning that can underpin school wide learning about the potential for agile learning spaces to enhance student learning, are identified. The paper concludes that widespread innovative use of the new library spaces was significantly enhanced when the school leadership fostered whole school discussions about the type of learning the spaces might provoke. This research has the potential to inform school designers, teachers and teacher-librarians to make the most of the transformative potential of next generation learning spaces.