The Challenges of Creating a Space Conducive to Learning and Collaboration

by Sandy Killian

Last year I posted a blog about the library at American Canyon High School that fully supported Bring Your Own Device (BYOD.) It was the first of a two-part blog that discussed the challenges of creating a space conducive to learning and collaboration.

Today our vision of a collaborative 21st-century learning library is finally coming true, three years after we began the process. Students in this very busy library are now working together or quietly chatting. It is a comfortable place where students can read or work, and not be disrupted by the whoops of joy as groups of gamers complete a mission.

To accomplish this change, we had to implement a few policies. First was a strict no-gaming policy. This policy severely cut down on the noise and number of students hanging out in the library. We also made sure students still felt welcome and weren’t banned forever, just in the wrong place for gaming. We were consistent with our policy—quietly asking students to leave if they were being too disruptive. Today, students are allowed to game during lunchtime only, and are really self monitored since they know they will be asked to leave if they are too rambunctious.

These days, the library is so popular, it frequently reaches the fire marshall's capacity

These days, the library is so popular, it frequently reaches the fire marshall’s capacity

The second policy was requiring students to sign-in during lunchtime, Access (a free 75- minute study period twice a month) and during class time. This helped set the tone as a more traditional library environment, and the following year, our expectations were set.

In addition to sign-in, the administration answered our pleas for help in monitoring the library during lunch and Access by allowing us to give students Community Service hours (a graduation requirement) for helping out. Also, if the library is over capacity we close the doors and students follow a “one in/one out” policy.

Over the last three years, these policies have helped the library evolve into the 21st-century collaborative space we envisioned. In addition, our ninth- and tenth-grade students became upperclassmen bringing much needed maturity to the school, the library clerk position increased to 30 hours a week, (I was moved to three high schools, a topic for another blog) and most importantly, the library culture became one of learning, collaboration and fun.

Sandy Killian

Sandy Killian

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