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.
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.
In the beginning, I wasn’t even 100% sure what asynchronous meant. Synchronous and asynchronous just were not on my vocabulary’s radar. After making the lesson plan, I’m sure a completely Asynchronous lesson plan would be very helpful for some students. But when most of the class is already de-personalized by having the online format, putting a few videos/guides/libguides/etc. in to a course shell will not fully immerse students into library resources.
Putting a face to a resource is a helpful exercise that allows the online/distance students a friendly face wit which to associate with the library. Having tutorials, explanations of processes, etc will be very beneficial for refreshing knowledge, but having even a one-shot online class would allow students to further their knowledge and feel connected with the library rather than feeling it is a far-away thing that isn’t very helpful to them as online students. So I decided to make an online lesson plan that used elements that the students could come back and use asynchronously should they need further explanation. Doing an online class allows the students to know a librarian is really there to help them if the librarian is able to communicate that feeling well over the Internet.
Once upon a time, there was an intern. This intern did her very best to prepare to create a video that would be helpful for students under the Supervisor’s dominion. All was well. The week came to construct the tool one faithful night, when the intern finally had a few hours together to put together the tool she had imagined. Tired from the week before, she and her fellow intern went to the neighboring kingdom to create the tool. But alas, the keys to the kingdom were missing. She and her fellow intern searched frantically for the key. They looked high and low, asked neighboring kingdoms for help, and attempted to find a different way in. The way was shut and none knew how to open it.
Downhearted, the two made their way back to their kingdom and contacted their Supervisor. Luckily, the Supervisor allowed them to make the video in her kingdom, though the better tools to make the video were found in the locked kingdom. Resting and nourishing themselves before continuing, the interns began to set up their tools. The audio set up went splendidly, although the littlest intern hated the sound of her own voice being played back to her. She planned on being out in a few hours.
But, alas, Camtasia had other plans. It stumbled and errored and made its way through, had trouble uploading audio too. When making the video, oh what a sight, it took the interns well into the night. They finally finished their asynchronous tool, went home and over their dreamland did rule.
My game plan for the session using some asynchronous tools was to further connect students with the information. Online students can often be left out to dry when it comes to library instruction, but creating classes that have at least one session of library instruction could increase their knowledge of how to research and be information literate.
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.
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!
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.