By the end of the semester, I’d learned how to plan effective information literacy sessions. What I had not expected to learn was how much I enjoyed seeing students actually get what I was saying. Freshman aren’t always the easiest bunch of people to teach. They come from so many different backgrounds and they are entirely new to the college game–they have to write different, begin thinking more critically, and think about the direction they want to go in for the rest of their college career. Researching is a big part of that, and for them to finally have it all click and look relieved that it was one less thing off their shoulders, it was a huge win for me. When one of them told me that they loved one of the activities I had them do in class, I fist pumped so hard after class that I nearly pulled a muscle–because to learn, you don’t necessarily have to enjoy something. But having that extra little encouragement made me believe that I was making a difference.
Me? A Teacher? I could be. What kind of teacher? One who wants to connect with students and let them connect with the information by using stories and interesting things that reveal research as something that could be interesting and fun, not just something they had to do. It’s hard to achieve in the information literacy classroom, but the simple engagement of their minds with stories, interesting sources, and pop culture could enable me to interact with the information they grab from the internet instead of just using it and discarding it. Each source has the potential to teach them something and inform them about a topic they find interesting… allowing them to see that research as something engaging and intriguing would be my job as a library instruction teacher.
Asking at the beginning of this semester, I would have answered this as a hard no. Not a soft “well maybe I could get interested” no or a middle-of-the-road “maybe not at this point in my life” no… it would have been a bent over at the waist with laughter, shaking my head and asking you if you were kidding kind of no. I thought to myself that this internship would be to answer the question if I could teach or not. What I didn’t know was that it would teach me that I could be a teacher.
Being a teacher and teaching are often two things that seem like they should go together but often don’t. While a teacher teaches, teaching could be done without a teacher. Effective teaching has to be done by someone who cares, but it could be done by someone who doesn’t. The difference between a teacher and a person who teaches is that earnest intent of someone who wants their students to learn and grow in the classroom and the person who’s just there to collect a paycheck. This is something I learned by listening to people talk about teachers who honestly didn’t care and looking back at my own experiences with teachers and professors. The people who taught me did their job well, I’m a graduate student and about to attain my Masters. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. But, there were some people who taught me that did not make me want to learn and did not make everything they taught interesting and engaging. The teachers I remember the most were my dynamic teachers. They engaged with me and encouraged me to interact with the material. They went the extra mile to be interactive and make sure that, while learning, the class was engaged with the information. In other words, they did more than just teach. They were real teachers.
On April 9th, Lauren, Paige, Claire and I presented a poster at Alabama Library Association’s annual convention in Point Clear, AL. It was the perfect way to end a semester of hard work and dedication for these excellent SLIS graduate students.
For more information about our poster, please check out the documents I have attached below:
Last week, we read and discussed “Researched Writing” by Rebecca Moore Howard and Sandra Jamieson. This article discussed how the research paper may no longer be the best method to teach research skills. Instead, research projects or portfolio could be used in writing classes to teach the skills on a step-by-step basis. As I read this, I was reminded how integral one-on-one instruction can be especially when teaching material as complicated and individualized as research. I then started to wonder if Universities with MLIS programs could work to engage their graduate students as “research mentors” for entry level composition classes. These “mentors” could then be available to meet with students on a one-on-one basis and walk them through the research process based on the professor’s instruction. While reference librarians can fill this role, freshmen seem hesitant to engage with librarians. The graduate student may be viewed more as a peer as well reducing the intimidation. The mentor could lead the student through early stages of research based on the professor’s assignments then refer the student to reference librarians for finding their own sources and higher level research projects.
Sara, Claire, Paige, and I were able to attend the ALLA conference at the Grand Hotel in early April. We presented a poster about how storytelling has helped us in our library instruction based on the article “How Do They Conduct Class” by Ken Bain. In the poster, I included a story I used during Day 2 of my instruction. I was doing a polling exercise to have the students select a source for different scenarios. One scenario was based on an experience I had with my father. He decided to become a vegetarian about many years of being an enthusiastic grill master. I integrated this to ask the students what type of source they would send to their own parent considering a switch to a vegetarian diet. Many selected articles from medical journals, and I used my own father to explain that someone without medical expertise may not be able to understand these journals. Additionally. the articles are very long, so my very busy father would not have taken the time to read the article. Instead, a newspaper article or even a youtube video may have been better options.
Being able to present a poster at a conference was a great experience. This was my first library conference, and I appreciated the opportunity. We had many fellow conference goers express interest in our poster and ask interesting questions! While I was only able to attend our poster session due to my class schedule, it gave me a good idea of what to expect at future conferences. Furthermore, this opportunity gave me confidence to create my own poster presentation at some point in the next couple of years.
What I was expecting: The four of us standing in front of our poster awkwardly and getting no questions from anyone.
What happened: Once we began the session, our colleagues showed up. Once they began talking to us about our poster, more people started approaching us and asking questions. We fielded them as a group, explaining each of the stories that we had on our poster and why we chose to tell them.
We had some very interesting questions that had nothing to do with our poster. A person came up and asked me about storytelling software and if I had any suggestions for a good one. I told her that it was a different kind of storytelling that we were doing in the information literacy classroom, but then suggested that she look at other programs who were doing storytelling projects that may have a better idea of what to use. She then asked questions about the storytelling in the informational classroom which rounded it out nicely.
Everyone who approached loved the look of our poster with the bright green and the avatars. They liked the creativity that went into it and I believe it made the poster more inviting.
One component of instruction that I had not considered was the element of the EN102 professors in our sessions. Through my many observations and my own teaching sessions I was able to observe many professors and how they interacted with the librarians and the material for the library sessions. Here are a few examples. Some of the professors were very involved in the session, interjecting comments into the librarian’s lecture. Other professors were completely indifferent to the sessions and spent their time in the back of the room on a computer, answering email or checking social media. Those professors who landed in the middle between these two groups gave the librarian the lead and seemed to keep half an ear on the session and interjected comments if necessary. The professor that I dealt with for my classes fell into this category. Outside of the sessions she was very interested in what material was going to be covered and how I was going to connect it to the theme of the class. While in the sessions she let me take the lead and only had a few comments. She also requested some online tools be added to blackboard and was very grateful for the content I added on particular databases. Overall she seemed very pleased with the instruction sessions. It was helpful to receive her feedback, and gave me a better understanding of all of the elements that effected my instruction sessions.
Creating a poster for a conference was a new experience for the semester. Going into the project I had absolutely no idea what a conference poster should look like and what information should be included on it. Therefore, this was great experience for me, and I feel like I really learned a great deal. It was very interesting watching the poster take shape. I feel it truly was a collaborative effort, as we all had particular sections of the poster to contribute to. The poster itself went through several different versions and was improved upon each time. It was really nice to see that a poster can truly be what you make of it. For example, a conference poster does not have to be heavily inundated with research and data. When presenting the poster at ALLA, it was a truly enlightening experience. I feel going through this presentation process I really grew as a library professional.
Leading a class for the whole class time, independently, was a new and daunting experience for me. I have some serious anxiety when it comes speaking independently in front of large groups. This experience was helpful, in allowing me to combat some of that anxiety. I found that each time I spoke to my classes I gained more confidence, and felt more comfortable.
When planning for my solo sessions I put great thought into my lesson plans. I tried to really connect the lesson to what the students were working on in class at the time. For example, they were reading a dystopian novel at the time of our first session, so I really researched the main themes of this novel. I tried to work the themes into specific points of the lesson as examples of particular learning goals I had.
Looking at the actual sessions. I feel like all of my classes went well and that my teaching improved with each session. One hiccup I experienced was for my Day 2 classes, there was a snow day the day before, and it was unclear if the university would hold classes the next day. Therefore, I felt slightly at the mercy of the weather, and unsure what the next step would be should the university delay or close.
Overall solo teaching was a great learning experience for me.
I enjoyed creating my asynchronous instruction tool on narrowing a research topic. I took my lesson plan from my day 1 instruction and reviewed it. I then took the slides I had created for that lesson plan and created them in PowToon. I made them more visually attractive since the slides will be a focal point of the tool whereas in the class they were simply a point of reference. After creating the slides, I worked on a script. I typed out a general script and then created a couple of additional slides to ensure the script and slides matched up. I recorded the voiceover one slide at a time. After the voiceover was complete, I was able to add it in PowToon and adjust the timing on the slide so the slides and voiceover would match up. This was an informative exercise to see how to translate an in-person instruction lesson plan to an asynchronous, online tool. I was able to create a tool I am proud of and would use!