Partners in crime: new pedagogies

Photo by Ramón Salinero on Unsplash

“The ‘new pedagogies’ are not just instructional strategies. They are powerful models of teaching and learning, enabled and accelerated by increasingly pervasive digital tools and resources, taking hold within learning environments that measure and support deep learning at all levels of the education system”  

Micheal Fullan

When I went to school, I used to sit on my table and listen to the teachers, write down notes and read my textbooks. There were teachers and teachers, some enthusiasts about their subject, and others not. We do have group activities but I can’t remember more collaborative activities in class. Something that I can still remember is where I was seated, the front row. Even my height 1.70 mt. on Highschool. Why? Because I was always talking. And, why I was talking? Because I was bored. It was hard for me to engage in a class in which I only have to learn from my teacher, my textbooks and do my homework. 

I attended school during the late 70’s and mid 80’s, it was the system. My life changed 180 degrees at the university when in my first assessment during a  History class, Dr. Iwasaki told us that he didn’t want our description of the events, he wanted our opinion. I was introduced to critical thinking 101!

When I was going through How new pedagogies find deep learning, I was not surprised by the results of an MIT research about brain activity. How the brain of students is more active when they are sleeping than during a teacher-directed class. 


  • Boredom and frustration among students.
  • Career disillusionment among teachers.

How can we change it? How new pedagogies can help teachers and students? What challenges are we facing? As Fullan says, students’ assessment, teacher evaluations, and school accountability regimes are the challenges. It’s the educational system that it’s not only limited to schools, and indeed universities and colleges.

Thinking about how I learned at the school and how we can learn now, students have access to unlimited resources. The Internet has changed our lives, our ways to communicate, learn, teach and socialize. Teachers are not knowledge-keepers anymore (vertical relationship). Teachers and students walk the inquiry path together, learning together (horizontal relationship), and from each other.

“The real transformation of technology and the Web is that it creates a freedom to learn and a freedom to contribute and participate on a global scale that didn’t exist even a decade ago.”

Michael Fullan

This graphic summarized it:

How the New Pedagogies are Different by Micheal Fullan

At the school libraries, this transformation has also happened when the automation of the systems started. Before librarians use to be the knowledge-keepers, library catalogs were done manually, library sessions were conceived as orientation and general facts. Nowadays, you can access 24/7 the library online catalog from your mobile, read ebooks, access to online resources, use online databases, etc. Librarians are collaborating with their teachers and students, guiding students on their inquiries and following different standards for information literacy. Technology has emerged as an ally of the library. It has given freedom to patrons and changed the role of the librarian = a mentor. Students and teachers are becoming responsible for their learning and teachers are also learning with them. 

Photo by Kristina V on Unsplash

But, freedom doesn’t mean a lack of guidance because students have been empowered by their teachers to master the process of learning.  In the new pedagogies, practices like feedback, learning-to-learn, and peer-tutoring enhance deep learning on students.

Judi Moreillon summarized in her blog how librarians are adapting to deep learning:

  •  Working in collaboration with teachers and students.
  • Adapting frameworks to improve their understanding of the inquiry process and improve their understanding of how we learn.
  • Promote inquiry-based learning and technology integration.
  • Develop a PLN

It’s also important to mention the contribution of Carol Kuhlthau with her ‘Guided Inquiry Design’.  It promotes inquiry learning and collaboration. This framework was adopted by many school librarians and opened a conversation between pedagogy in the class and the library.

If I shall reflect on how my library environment is embracing new models of education, I can say that it’s a journey without ending because we are constantly learning, improving, adapting, and relearning. We are one of the key areas of innovation at the school; focus on collaboration, mentorship, and learning.  Our challenges are :

  • collaboration because not always everybody is willing to.
  •  mentorship as well, it requires a lot of collaboration. 

Learning partnerships can lead to successful experiences for students and promotes agency. If you review my Course1 final work, you will find an example. 

Two other elements are important alongside collaboration: the support of the administration and the continuous learning growth of the librarian. Without these 3 components, it’s not possible to fulfill the needs and expectations of the community and the paths between teacher, librarians, students, and technology won’t cross.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Partners in crime: new pedagogies

  1. Hi Liliana,
    thanks for your post, lots of good fodder here. One part I wish to comment on is regarding the sections on libraries.
    I have seen schools that have been quite progressive in their approach to libraries and schools that are still stuck in the “library as keeper of knowledge” modality. One of the simplest actions that a librarian can do is to reach out to teachers on a regular basis to understand what learning is taking place in their classrooms and how this can be supported in the library. This can extend further by actually spending time with students individually when they come in, and collaborating with them on projects. Additionally, I have seen libraries that actually embrace technology. This does not mean getting rid of all paper materials (it surely involves skimming it down), but it means restructuring these spaces for 21st century learning. I have seen libraries with maker spaces, music studios, collaboration spaces, and even exercise bikes to read and ride! I am interested to hear what you, and others think about these spaces, and how we can bring them forward.

    • Dear Ryan, Thanks for your valuable comments! I totally agree with you. How important is to develop that collab relationship with teachers can make a significant impact on students’ development of skills. I have moved from traditional libraries to learning spaces in which yo embrace technology and creativity. A school library shall be a provocation place for its community! Maker-spaces are a great way to support STEAM – I love them! It gives opportunities to create, design, solve problems and failures. I have sessions with PYP students, and my best lessons are the ones in which collaboration and teamwork with teachers is reflected. It will be really amazing to work in libraries with music studios and bikes!

  2. Thanks Liliana for your recount of your own schooling and how you intend to improve this with your library position. I remember those days two even about a decade later. Unlike you though, I sat in the back, joking with my friends and doodling. My main memories of learning in elementary and high-school come from times that I remember of experimenting freely in Mr. Lilo’s high school physics class and trying to prove things on my own through mathematics and observations. The support I had from this teacher to help me follow what I was interested in and the guidance and feedback he gave me are some of the main reasons I still remember those moments vividly. I wonder how you can bring the idea of student agency into the library.

    I like your thoughts about how to improve deep learning in the library, particularly about collaboration because everyone is not always willing to pitch in. We have administrative support at my school for our librarians to be a key part in our unit planning and how we teach research as a whole school. One of our librarians worked closely with teachers from all grade levels to develop a vertical alignment of research skills and now we use the librarian as a key resource in many of our units. I think that an important step in this is the librarian moving out of the library and into the classroom as well. There needs to be flexible scheduling and support from administration to allow for team-teaching opportunities.

    One strategy that might be effective would be to seek out the individual teachers who are willing to form these partnerships with the librarian. Administration and other teachers will see the effectiveness of the learning that happens when the librarian and teacher work together in a variety of environments (our librarian also comes on research based field trips). Developing the relationships among teachers, and with students could help with the willingness of the entire staff. Team-teaching with a tech-coach, a homeroom, EAL teacher, or single subject teacher are all fantastic ways to promote deep learning in a school.

    • Dear Flynn,
      You are right! Librarians shall be supported by the administration and work with teachers. The vertical alignment of Library standards for Information Literacy with the school curriculum is a mandatory step for real integration and validation of the librarians’ role. Your school is doing a great job!

Leave a Reply