Last week I finished my solo teaching sessions. I feel that these two were by far my best classes. I felt like I was in control of the sessions and that I was not just trying to squeak by with the basic information. The first session had a professor who gave them extra credit but did not require them to turn in their activity sheets, so I was able to keep them and analyze the answers to inform my teaching. I figure out where I was weak in explanation (differentiating between Google and SCOUT), and where they were easily answering questions (Ask-A-Librarian and locations in the library where you can ask for help). Having that bit of in-between time to improve quickly was very helpful for my second, and last, session. The professor even thanked me for my attention to detail in the group work time. I was able to speak briefly with the professor during and after class, and have a real conversation with him. I feel this was helpful because it gave me an opportunity to meet someone new, but also it gave me practice on creating connections with non-library people. Any opportunity to extol the virtues of libraries is time well spent?
Through the teaching part of this internship, I feel that I have learned many things. I have improved in several ways with teaching. I feel that I have improved how I speak and how I explain concepts. I have learned that explaining things means I must break them down into smaller chunks of information than I assumed. I feel that I am more aware of communication and how essential is to communicate fully and clearly. I have also learned many things I did not anticipate learning about. I learned how to promote the library in many ways. I learned how to be more convincing. It can be difficult sometimes to make students care about the library, but having a genuine enthusiasm for librarianship translates to a student. I also learned how to be more flexible in various situations. In a few of my sessions SCOUT went a bit crazy, but I was able to save the moment and problem solve quickly.
Next up, I am finishing up the tutorials with Lizzie. We are in the process of creating them now. I look forward to seeing the final product of what we have been planning.
I have completed 8 of my sessions. I did my first solo session on Wednesday. I had an unexpected brush with nerves halfway through the tour, but I think I did pretty well on the tutorial on Scout. I am glad to be finished with my first go around. I have two more week after next. I expect that they will be better.
Lizzie and I have been working on our tutorials. I am looking forward to seeing them as a full piece. I think that we have mapped out a pretty good theme for our videos. We were going to originally use Bigfoot, but there aren’t very good results from the searches we need, so we decided to switch to zombies. We had even found a cute little Bigfoot for a graphic, but I will survive.
Lastly, I found and have included this link to a talk by Neil Gaiman about the importance of libraries. Gaiman is well known for his support of libraries. I think that he said some amazing things in this talk.
On Thursday I observed Michael doing the second session of an EN 102. On Monday I co-taught the same section. Since there was not as much time between seeing it and doing it, I was nervous, but I think Monday’s was a success. I felt comfortable with the way that I explained the differences between popular and scholarly sources. There was some trouble with the activity, but I have been more concerned with how I explain something. I am glad that I was able to properly describe the difference in these sources. I think that the topics covered in the second session of the class are quite applicable to public library instruction. While most public library patrons will not be writing formal research, they will be using information accessed from several sources, mostly internet, Google results style. I think that being able to help a patron learn how to evaluate information will be very important.
An interesting thing that I have learned about lately in my User Instruction class is one-on-one instruction. I know that we are largely speaking to a group, but most session have a time slot set aside for individual searching. During this time I feel that I do the best work because I am able to figure out what the individual needs and how to help them. Since everything that an instructor says will not automatically file itself away into the student’s brain, the one-on-one time will allow for an instructor to address the ideas presented that the student is weak in.
On Friday I finished my first job application. I am interested in public libraries, especially with reference and instruction. I know that there are fewer opportunities for these positions, but I found one that I really like. I know that perhaps they are interested in hiring before my graduation, but I feel good about doing my application because I was able to create a resume and cover letter for what I think is the perfect job. I used the opportunity as an exercise in defining my goals. I was happy to be able to put solid experience with instruction in my application. I had to complete a personal statement of sorts for the application, and I was able to explain why I have chosen to do the jobs and internships that I have. I am still overwhelmed by job searching, but I feel I am off to a good start.
In our Jedi Council on Friday, we discussed active learning and the effectiveness of having a “messy classroom.” Brett made a very interesting point comparing Sesame Street’s format of short segments focusing on different subject using different deliveries to how a college classroom can be, too. I did not like active learning when I was introduced to it during the end of my high school years. I was used to a lecture based format. I have tried to develop other ways to appeal to as many learners as possible. For the last active learning module I created an activity that would appeal to me as a learner. When I am introduced to a new idea, it takes me a while to analyze and work through the applications of it. By choosing to do a think/pair/share format, I feel like I appealed to learners like me. If I have a moment to myself, I can come up with things to talk about with others. If I have to immediately answer or discuss something without adequate thinking time, I freeze, my brain freezes, and I can get nervous. I am going to start including think/pair/share activities in my repertoire so that I can include as many students as possible in engaging with the content.
This week we are developing active learning modules about Boolean operators. I have had some trouble designing an activity that describes this subject adequately. Most of the examples I have seen are illustrations of a Venn diagram describing AND, NOT, and OR; or using playing cards. Boolean logic is not a simple topic and can be difficult to explain to a group quickly. This subject has been one of the parts of the information literacy classes that I do not automatically have the words to explain. This week I observed Josh’s EN 102 session one class, and I finally understood a way to show students Boolean operators. He uses the advanced search options in Scout to search using the keywords already developed earlier in the class. Since the search is structured with the AND/OR/NOT between boxes to type in, it is a natural approach to stringing together the search terms. It was a smooth transition and was logical in the class. The students seemed to understand it well.
While researching ways to explain Boolean logic, I found several blogs by librarians with posts discussing this topic’s relevance in information instruction. Several instruction librarians emphasized that the topic is not nearly as important as many librarians assume it is. Also, the posts blamed this as a part of librarianship that creates barriers between new and infrequent library users and libraries. Perhaps this is a topic that will eventually be less important, but for now using AND and OR still seem important to me.
As for this week’s readings, I was quite glad to read something that takes seriously the true attitudes of college students and their approaches to information literacy. The best way to truly understand how to teach students is to be practical about the motivations and habits of the less interested students.
On Tuesday, we all worked together to co-teach a library introduction session for the LS 507 Reference class. I really enjoyed the experience. I spent about an hour preparing, and everything went smoothly. I decided to include a few things into the Scout tutorials that were aspects of the website that I did not know about when I started the program. I tried to focus on what would be the most helpful for helping them through their graduate program. I think that I built a good rapport with them. Throughout the tour and at the end of the session, all of the students were excited about some of the new things they had learned.
Through this experience, I feel that I have developed a method for preparing for classes, and I feel more comfortable explaining concepts. I am continuing to refine my explanations and revise my examples for the clearest and best instruction. I think that this session was an encouraging example of improvement through hard work. I should pat myself on the back.
Today I was able to watch Michael’s EN 102 class. For the last 20 minutes, he let me help with the worksheets, do an example search from a student’s worksheet as a wrap up, review the LibGuide, and finish up with the quiz about section 1. I feel WAAYYY more successful than I felt about my SCOUT tutorial from last week’s meeting. I think I needed to stand in front of a group of students to feel more confident. It did not hurt that I did not have to actually teach a large amount of content, but I just needed a success to inspire me. I even got a half-hearted chuckle from Freshmen. That is definitely a win. As always, there is a list of things I wish I had done differently, but it is good that I can recognize these things so I can improve my teaching.
For the next meeting I am working on the keyword active learning activity. I spent a very long time trying to find something new and inventive. I have always enjoyed coming up with new ways of explaining or illustrating ideas, but I had a lot of trouble with this. I have prepared an activity that has potential, but I need to iron out a few things. Honestly, one of the hardest things is creating a thesis statement that works well but is not incredibly boring. It seems as if things are coming together for now, though.
My first blog post for this instruction internship is about nerves (a subject, I am sure, many other interns have written about). I did not think that I would have this specific internship opportunity because I am heading down the public libraries path, but luckily I have been welcomed and encouraged. My previous experience has not been unbelievably formal. I have reflected on these experiences to develop some of my ideas and goals for this internship and the corresponding course (User Instruction).
I taught ESL courses in Seoul, Korea for 8 and a half months in 2010 through 2011.When I started work the first day, I was just tossed into the classroom with no training and little to no experience. I was able to observe some classes for two days, but I was on my own after. I quickly realized that I needed some guidance, and I borrowed a book on teaching English as a foreign language. I learned some basic techniques, but my teaching style and techniques were something I just developed independently. After having taught for several months, I realized that I was able to survive my classes with little to no anxiety with moderate success. However, I had to move past merely covering the content. Eighty percent of my students were comprehending, but I had to reach the other 20% . I did some research in some ESL forums, through some teacher’s supplemental texts, and by observing and collaborating with other teachers. I was able to increase my success and saw my students exceed the goals set for them by the school’s administration. My students comprehended more and were eager to be involved in class. Working with the students was less like pulling teeth.
While my time in Korea was in no way an example of exceptional teaching, or even good teaching, I was and still am, very proud of what I accomplished. I suppose that I am aware of what I need to improve, and this is what I am most self-conscious about. I am still quite nervous about how rusty my teaching is, how teaching English speaking students compares to ESL students, and if my teacher mentality will come back; but I guess the only way to find out is to try? Hopefully my nerves will calm down.