Thoughts on Asynchronous Online Instruction

In searching for articles about approaches to asynchronous on-line instruction, I discovered many of the articles and the research in the field focus on discussion boards and methods for student-interaction. It seems to me that such communication methods would offer little value to an online version of the one (or two) shot library instruction classes. In those classes, building rapport with the instructor and engaging the students are the challenge. I wonder if it would be helpful for the librarian to have a brief video introducing him/herself to go along with any asynchronous teaching tools that are created. This video could focus on the librarian’s background and research interests but also include some humor and personal information. This would make the librarian a real person and may make students more inclined to pay attention to the instructional information.

The game’s afoot (3 of 3)

And the last in the series, title still taken from King Henry V’s speech from the third act of his self-titled play by Will-i-am Shakspeare.

And on Thursday of last week, the 19th of February to be exact, I solo taught my last two sessions of the semester. Can you hear the hallelujah chorus in the background? I sure could.

The first  class was a little rough. I got through everything and, I think, achieved everything I needed to–reaching half the class and making sure they understood. While there were a couple of people who really got into what we were doing, there were pockets of people who just weren’t paying attention. There were people who, after doing an active learning activity, wouldn’t stop talking while I was talking. I also caught two guys sleeping (or very near sleeping). While I could understand their sleepiness, because I was also tired myself at the end of the day, it was a little disheartening. Then again, I reasoned with myself that it wasn’t me–it was typical freshman behavior. When their teacher isn’t teaching, it’s like they are back in high school with a substitute instead of a guest lecturer/teacher/instructor. They’ll learn, hopefully, in time to be more respectful when it comes to being physically present and mentally engaged in classes.

The second class went much smoother, thanks in part to the professor of the EN102 section telling them to be engaged and respectful before I began. I felt as if the entire class got something out of it this time, even though one of the groups was really struggling to delve deeper into the activities. They’re good at getting the surface information but failed to look any deeper than what they “had to.” I squashed most of that thinking by going around and checking in on what they were doing if they were “finished” and prompting them to look other places. I also got better at giving them resources according to slack-off level, which I didn’t do in the first class. I made the mistake of giving a pocket of people who weren’t paying attention an easily researched article and they got done too quickly. I re-evaluated that for the second class and they were, mostly, fully engaged with the material.

All in all, I think I did well. James did tell me that I may want to reconsider giving so much positive feedback. I didn’t want to tell them they were wrong, because I hadn’t found the right phrasing to tell them so without crushing what they’ve said completely. Practice, at least in that aspect, may help. I’ve gotten a taste of teaching, and I enjoy it for the most part. I only have to practice more to get the nerves out as well as try and hone in on my rhetorical/pedagogical skills to try and further the student’s engagement/knowledge once the class is over.

On, on, you noblest English (2 of 3)

Again, King Henry V by William Shake-speare.

Co-teaching to the third power.

All of my co-teaching was done last week. I had two sessions triple co-teaching with Karlie and Claire and another session triple (double? I’m not sure what the standard is for this. Teaching in triplicate? The bermuda triangle of co-teaching? Instructor, intern, and intern/GA… a trinity?) co-teaching with  Kayla and Lauren.

Aside from not being sure what I was doing 100% until just before the sessions, I feel as if they were effective and went rather well. For the first teaching in triplicate with Karlie and Claire, I went through the powtoon of popular vs scholarly sources. I always notice that the students eyes kind of glaze over halfway through, but I wasn’t sure how to deal with that so I just kept going. Them getting the information is better than just shooting from the hip and not getting the information across the way it needed to be. In the second session with Karlie and Claire, I went through what sources were by going through Karlie’s scripted questions in her slideshow. I added things about how you can also use unusual resources (like tweets, pictures, etc) in papers as long as they are used in context and not thrown in like some undergraduate students tend to do if not directed otherwise. This I threw in because Karlie mentioned it after Claire gave her talk in the first class. Learning on the go!

I co-taught again the next day, this time with Kayla and Lauren. This time I ran the unusual resources activity, which I felt like I did fairly well. These classes were real confidence boosters–because two days later, I would be teaching on my own. On to the next!

Once more unto the breach, dear friends. (1 of 3)

Credit to the Great Willy Shakespeare who never could spell his own name right/the same from play to play for the title. (Henry V)

Last week was the longest week of my graduate school career. Here, in my instructional internship, is where I shall begin. I will probably post something I wrote about a while ago about another one of the weeks of this internship, but for now I’ll settle with only looking a week into the past. This post will be dedicated to all the awesome instructors I’ve observed (looking at you Sara, Karlie, Kayla, Erica, Alex, and James).

I feel like I learn as much, if not more, by watching these ladies and gents teach. They all have different approaches when it comes to applying the learning objectives, even if they are using the same activities. They also have different ways to create rapport between themselves and the students as well as dissuade them from creating too many distractions from the actual material. They are constantly updating sources and creating new ways of thinking about the learning objectives. They take what they’ve observed work in the classroom and work to perfect the material by asking increasing amounts of questions.

I watched 6 EN102 Session 2’s last week. I feel like I have been completely immersed in learning objectives and active learning activities since the beginning of observing for Sara’s research study. I’m incredibly grateful to that study, because it has given me the time to really look at the various pedagogical distinctions between the instructors and how the students react to those different methods.

A Web of Uncertainty

Teaching is an entirely new experience for me. Yes, I’ve done the occasional presentation, but public speaking has never been something I am comfortable with. However, this is quickly changing, with each time that I teach or co-teach I am becoming more confident with my abilities to lead an instruction session. I feel that I learn something each time I teach. As my confidence has grown I am able to look at the wider picture and really focus on the material in an in-depth manner. However, there are still doubts that pop up. Am I covering the material appropriately? Do the students have a clear understanding of the material? Are they focused and paying attention? Am I fulfilling the expectations of the professor? Is the information I am conveying helpful? So with every step forward I have taken as an instructor, I feel that I have many more to go.

Once upon a time…

In a land called Gorgas, there was an intern. Her name was Paige and it was her first week of instruction. She observed the other instructors and saw that they had many gifts, but one gift in particular caught her attention more than the rest. Behind all the glimmer of the instruction sessions was the raw talent of connecting students with the information the instructors were trying to teach them. While they all had different ways to impart the material, they were one in the belief that making connections with the students was important.

Nervous, she began co-teaching with Kayla. She knew she would be anxious but ultimately she was concerned that her jittering nerves would interfere with her teaching abilities. She worked for two hours trying to perfect her little demonstrations of Scout and Opposing viewpoints, making sure all of the information she was trying to get across was present.

The teacher of the session, when she arrived, decided that one of the things she was going to show the students cut in to the research time he wanted his students to have at the end of class! He also had an assignment he wanted the students to work on, which involved Paige pointing out different parts of Scout that she had not planned on using.

Quickly, she wrote an outline and her script was gone. The class was over before she had a chance to breathe, but her first co-teaching session was over and she had done well despite her nerves. She stuttered, stumbled, and “umm… let’s see” ‘d her way through, but her learning objectives were achieved.

Her second co-teaching session with Kayla went much smoother. She worked with her script as she had planned, but she had not planned for the number of students suddenly increasing after a half hour into the session. Her nerves quadrupled in size; despite her shaking hands, she made it through hardly looking at the outline and script she had prepared.

Instruction sessions were looking up for Paige. The more she taught the more she saw herself as a teacher. The criticism and encouragement she received in the aftermath of her co-teaching sessions helped her adjust and begin delving deeper into what could make her a better teacher.