As the semester is coming to an end I wanted to take a minute to reflect on what I have learned during my time interning with the GIS. In a very broad overview I spent my semester doing classroom observations, teaching library instruction, learning about the philosophy of teaching and library instruction, and even assisting a little bit in a research project.
First of all, I spent a lot of my time this semester doing observations of library instructions. I went to at least one class taught by each of the librarians who have teaches in the first year writing program, but I did not always attend a first year writing program instruction session. In fact I was able to sit in on some upper division and even grad level instruction sessions as well as EN 101 and 102 instruction classes. I am extremely happy about my wide exposer to the variety of classes because it helped me understand how many different approaches library instruction can take depending on the level of the class subject. By watching a variety of instructors teach and having spent some time teaching as well, I have started to develop my own teaching philosophy about how I want to act in the classroom and what I expect from the students. My philosophy is still a working process, but I am happy to have a foundation in which I can start building off of. (For more information on my teaching adventures and classroom observations please look as some of my past posts that are a reflection of my experiences.)
I have had the pleasure of being exposed to small portion of library instruction research. The research project I assisted on is a project that will take a few semesters to complete, but I have had the chance to help with some of the early stages. I helped organize with some of the pre-test survey data and have learned a bit about what they are planning on doing with the information gathered. Getting a small taste of doing research has got me wondering what I might possibly want to research. I don’t have a full understanding of what I want to research, but I think I would like to look into how library instruction can be used in the theory of “Decoding the Disciplines.” This theory is a teaching philosophy that in order to be an affective teacher one must break down every single step needed to preform a task as an expert in the field. Such as, how a geologist makes conclusions while field mapping or how an English professor breaks down literary text to symbolism and meaning. I loved the idea and Sara and I were able to rearrange the readings to allow me to look more deeply into this idea of decoding and then came up with a little side project where I took the syllabus from an Anatomy class and tried to create a series of instruction sessions, class assignments, and in-class exercises that would work with this idea of decoding the discipline of anatomy. I happily thank Sara for introducing me to the theory of Decoding the Disciplines, because it is a topic that I would really like to look into more.
In conclusion I would like to take a minute to express how much I enjoyed working with Sara over the past semester. She has taught me a great deal about what it means to be a library instructor all while allowing me to explore ideas that interested me personally, she let me side track the reading we would talk about in favor of the decoding the discipline papers so I can learn more about a theory I am interested in. Sara really takes an interest in what her interns are interested in and wants them to explore areas they are excited about. I consider myself very luck to have had the chance to work with Sara as her intern.
In past blog posts I have talked about grading students worksheets in order to assess myself in how I am teaching during my library instruction periods. However, I realized that I had not fully explained my process or why I think this is an important tool.
My process of grading the worksheet is relatively simple. For each question I give the students a score that ranges from 0-3. The score is given based on a set of criteria that I determine before hand. While the criteria changes with the worksheet and the content of the class The basic standards for each score are described below.
0- The students did not write anything down. I do this because if all the students have a 0 on questions that are later in the worksheet then it tells me that did not give the students enough time to work. I then can either rearrange the lesson plan to give the students more time to work or change the worksheet by either having less questions or changing what I ask (perhaps the questions are too hard). Luckily I have not had this problem. Some students do get a 0 for some questions, but I have not noticed a pattern in any of the classes.
1- The students only answered part of the question. Many of the questions I give the students have two or more parts. The parts are not difficult something along the lines of where I as the student to identify the name of a resource and then highlight why this source is important or can used in a paper. You could say that I am a fan of identify and describe questions.
2- The student answers all part of the questions, but they just do surface answers. The students do everything asked in the question, but they just do the bare minimum and use very broad answers. For example they may answer a question with the name of a resource and say that they can use it to provide a statistic for their paper.
3- The student answers all parts of the question and are specific. I want to see these specific answers because that means the student is engaged with what we are doing and that they understand what they are looking for in each question. For example, the student names a resource and then quotes or paraphrases part of the source identifying what they might like to use it for in their paper.
By scoring students answers I can judge how I taught that class. If the majority of the class get mostly ones on the questions then that tells me that I either did not clearly communicate what I wanted them to do or that I did not engage the class enough for them to care about what we were doing in class. If the scores are mostly twos then perhaps I need to engage the class more or try to direct them into thinking more deeply about the questions. Twos are great, but it does not show great understanding of what we were doing, but just scratches the surface. If I can get mostly threes then I would be ecstatic because that means I was able to connect with the class and they understood what we were doing.
All of this can inform me on about my teaching, it affects the activities I do in the classroom, and how I structure lecture for the class. After each class I have made some alteration to my lesson plan such as adding a small activity at the start of a class after my first solo teaching lesson. A more recent example comes from teaching two classes this past Tuesday. The first class had a little too much time that I planned on using for work time (the students finished faster then I thought they would and I ended up letting them out early). So before the next session in that day I had the students do a free write to start exploring their topic based solely on their own knowledge to see where their gaps were. I am constantly making some kind of change to the worksheet or lesson plan and I think each change has increased the knowledge output the students leave the classroom with. I am not an expert in the classroom in anyway, but I am slowly finding my way and learning what does and does not work for me after every class.