Favorite Teaching Moment

Early in my session 2’s, I had a moment where I came up with a new analogy for the publication process to help students understand why a resource should be trusted, and why we rely on peer review. My analogy begins with a discussion of what WebMD diagnoses you with when you give it your symptoms, even if it’s a rash and the sniffles, which most of the time is cancer. In contrast, if you go to the doctor and tell him the same symptoms, he’s probably going to tell you that you have allergies. The next portion of this analogy was to discuss why you trust a doctor more than WebMD, including the doctor’s lengthy education and the accountability of licensing, which then segued into how that resembles peer review. The first time I used this analogy, I saw how the classes came to understand why they trusted sources, and I ended up with lots of laughter and a really great discussion.

The comments from my supervisor and peer were both encouraging. They liked the simplicity of the analogy and they found it easy to understand. I enjoyed getting the positive feedback, and hope to do this with other activities.

Teaching Back to Back to Back

On Monday, I had the opportunity to gain an interesting new experience–teaching back to back to back.  The instruction session were all for evaluating sources, but they were aimed at assignments for two separate teachers. I spent the morning alternating back and forth between SEC football and Mardi Gras, and wondering why in the world I’d forgotten to bring a bottle of water. The first session most the most talkative of the three, and it made me agree with Sara that students who choose to take their class Monday mornings at 8 AM must be overachievers. The students seemed to understand to what I was trying to teach them, but I forgot to introduce myself in the little bit of nervousness I came into the session with. The second two session were still interacting well, but it was a few students speaking, instead of the larger group as a whole. I feel like the “grocery store magazine” meta cognitive activity went over well, and the students seemed to enjoy the  topics and resources. Overall, I feel like I accomplished my teaching goals for the session.

List of Things to Remember for Next Sessions:

  • Water
  • Introducing myself
  • Wear a matching pair of comfortable shoes (…don’t ask)
  • Write down the Section Number

Don’t Panic, It’s Just Information Literacy!

I spent my morning on Monday co-teaching two EN102 classes with Sara Whitver; both classes had the same English instructor and both chose the same topic (It’s funny how much college students like football). These sessions were an opportunity for me to understand two things about what my future as an instructor can look like in time. The first is that I hope that sooner or later these instruction butterflies die down and let me get on with my sessions. Secondly, I realized that with time and experience I can make a better connection to the students. I learned this fact through the third co-teaching session suddenly seeming easier than the second and the first, and because of Sara’s confidence with the group. My first session included a lesson I was glad I learned early, which is always be more than prepared, because I definitely was not. All in all, I feel that repetition (and the guidance of Sara) will keep me on my feet, even when I’m scared out of my wits.

(P.S. Sara, you totally are a super-special snowflake)

Watching the Classes

On Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, I was able to observe my first two instruction sessions as an intern. They were very different subjects, very different class dynamics, and very different instruction topics, but some of the reactions and responses were the same. I enjoyed the experiences of watching Sara teach keywords through ads to freshman, and seeing some of the contrast when Brett went into some advanced search techniques for a 400 European History seminar. This first session helped me realize one of weaknesses and the second gave me a chance to use one of my strengths.

Stronger than Aunt Bertha’s Breath: Genderads.com

My first session was the freshman session taught by Sara. Farren Stanley’s EN 102 was not a completely normal instruction session due to the nature of their assignment, which involved visual sources, including the photo above, which was one of examples during class. Here are some of the things I learned from Sara during class:

  • Sometimes getting freshman to volunteer answers seems much like pulling teeth, even when the English Instructor helps.
  • Activities are good! …Start with one.
  • Movement helps keep the freshman involved and, I believe, mildly frightened of you seeing were they are not supposed to be on the internet.
  • Eye contact with the group also helps with the above statement.
  • Treat the lesson like a one-on-one conversation with a group, not a presentation or performance.
  • The “No More Than Four” rule, which was something I had never known before Wednesday.
  • Let the students choose their own path and examples.

Of these lessons, the one that I think was hardest and most important for me was the last. Silence is not always my strongest suit, and in this session, it was particularly hard for me to not to try to help the students with their keyword examples. Part of it was the awkward silences waiting for the students to answer, and part it was prior knowledge of important literary stereotypes. I desperately wanted to inform the group, “She’s a hag!”, but I came to realize that the right answer is not always the right answer, and that me sharing my “right answer” with them wasn’t what they needed: They needed what Sara gave them–a chance to develop their search on the their own. I feel like this might be one of my greatest instruction weakness, and I’m going to learn not to mother them along their path, but allow them to find it, as slow as they want, on their own.

The second session, Brett’s advanced session for a History seminar class on the long 19th century in Europe, was a joy to watch and help with consulting. The class subject was one of my favorites as an undergraduate, and being able to sit in on this reminded me of why I wanted to go into library instruction in the first place–to be able to listen to a whole new generation of topics on the subjects I love. Some of things I learned from Brett’s session are included below:

  • Sometimes getting upperclassmen to volunteer answers seems much like pulling teeth, even when the History Instructor helps.
  • It easier to get students to respond and ask questions when they’re not in a group, but working on their own.
  • That some instances of primary and secondary are hard even for a masters student, so they’ve got to be hard for an undergraduate (That was a hard handout, Brett!)
  • Some students don’t need your help with topics and keywords, and some do. Ask anyway.
  • The moment when you help turn a topic and a search around and you get to help a student understand is one the best moments a reference librarian can have.

It was a joy to be able to help consult with the students. One of my favorite moments is when I was able to help one of the women in the class go from this nebulous idea of Britain and High Society and maybe Colonial India to a few more specific topics, and then to have her ask me a question on how to search one of the topics I had helped suggest (19th Century British Travel Writings on the Colonies, especially Colonial India) was so much fun to me. It made me feel like I had an active role on affecting a student.

A Magical Beginning


Looking back, I blame “The Librarian: Quest for the Spear” for my first memories of wanting to be a librarian being a little skewed. I was fifteen when the film starting airing on television, and it quickly became a favorite. This version of a librarian was active, dynamic, and magical–an Indiana Jones for bookworms. Flynn Carsen and his quirky sidekicks gave the illusion that the life of a Librarian was an ongoing adventure concerned with continued learning, education, and mystical objects. Though the mystical object portion of that equation isn’t really true, the rest is.

This ideal of librarianship makes me realize that I not only want to discover where I stand as a teacher, but as an adventurer. Do I teach best through lecture or activity? Am I better at guiding through questions or creating simulations? This internship will help me become my own version of the great Librarian, through experience and learning. It will help me begin my own magical adventures, with my own quirky sidekicks– the new tools of technology.