Reflection on Co-Teaching

I finished my co-teaching for the semester on Monday. I co-taught two sections of an English class both taught by the same professor. On the first session, I sat in and observed. During the second session, I gave a brief overview of Scout and Academic Search Premier. I also walked around and helped students while they researched. I enjoy this part the most. It is fun to see what topics everyone is doing and to try to give them tips on how to narrow down the search. Since I was able to sit down with the same few classes for all three sessions, it was interesting to observe how the classes research skills developed over the week. Previously, I had only seen one or two sections of a course so I didn’t really get the full picture. By the third class session, the students in these classes appeared to have improved their key word searches in Scout, and I was excited to see many using Boolean operators. I am looking forward to solo teaching some of my own sessions.

Reflecting on Yancey’s “On Reflection” and on Co-Teaching

I enjoyed Yancey’s overview of the history of how teachers became interested in reflective writing and students’ composing processes. I had read some of the other authors she quoted as well as some of her writings, but not this particular essay before now.  When I taught composition, we had a reflective essay assignment attached to every major paper. Like Yancey observes, I also found it useful to have a student reflection / to know the student’s thoughts along with the paper. If someone turned in an assignment that appeared weak, they would often have a reflection detailing the roadblocks they hit or other life obstacles that got in the way. When it comes to library instruction, I can see how it would be useful for students to reflect on their research practices as well as on their writing and key word choices.


On another note, I co-taught for the first time this week.  I usually get nervous when I teach a class for the first time, and this was no different. As an instructor of record, I was able to really get to know my students, especially when they took me for both parts of composition. While teaching for library instruction, I will only see the students a handful of times or less.  This will definitely be a minor adjustment. One thing I am excited about is teaching the same general lessons to different classes. Since I am teaching the same sorts of lessons more than once, I do look forward to being able to fine tune lesson plans and try them out multiple times.

Lesson Plan Reflection: Boolean Operators

While I did not observe anyone this week, I did have a few meetings about lesson planning for my upcoming teaching session. I also worked on a Boolean operators learning activity. For my activity, I decided to use Harry Potter themed search terms. I have 3 venn diagrams. To teach Boolean operators, I plan to demonstrate the operators in Scout with my 3 different search combinations. While I do this, I plan for the students to follow along and complete the search with me. Following that, I have a short activity for them to do with their own key words.  I have four questions:

  1. What are your key terms?
  2. Use some of these terms along with the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT.
  3. How are your search results changed when you use the different Boolean operators?
  4. Try using more than one Boolean operator. How does this effect your results?

I hope that by using the operators along with me, and then by using the operators for their own search results, that the students will internalize what the operators mean.

Reflecting on Universal Design

This article was very powerful in its description of Universal Access. I enjoyed the example about the professor who allows his students to write down questions on note cards during class. While this may seem like a simple idea on the surface, it stood out as a very thoughtful gesture for me that would help those in class with any kind of anxiety surrounding asking questions. The main point of the article seemed to be that one should keep in mind the multitude of perspectives and needs in a room at any given point in time and the necessary different approaches and methods to help those people. The five levels of access is something that I will try to keep in mind for my classroom in the future. I agree with its statement that Universal design is a matter of social justice.

Observing Instructional Sessions

Last week, I started my observations. I observed a session on using the library’s resources and finding sources. I enjoyed how interactive the session was. The students participated in almost every step of the session. They followed the instructor as he demonstrated how to use Scout and other databases. At the end, he had the students go out and find a book that they had selected while learning how to search for sources.

In the next two sessions I observed, the students learned how to evaluate sources. It was quite interesting seeing the difference the two different instructional librarians took. In the first session I observed, the session involved filled out a work sheet on topic negotiation. Many of the students were confused by this, and the librarian demonstrated how to do the worksheet with the classes participation. This appeared very successful and the students appeared engaged. In the next session I observed, the librarian took more of a lecture approach  and saved most participatory activity for the end of the session. The students were divided into groups after the presentation and had to decide whether there source was scholarly or not. This activity seemed very useful, and the students were able to adequately assess they sources.

Reflecting on Bain, “How do they conduct class?”

Several things in this chapter resonated with my own experience as a teacher and with what I have learned in previous composition theory courses. I particularly liked the section about having class as “a conversation rather than a performance” (118). When I first started teaching, I felt very awkward when I tried to lecture in front of the room and have a one-way interaction with students. I soon found that when my students and I sat in a circle together, and I when I no longer tried to be the sole leader of the class, that everyone felt more free to discuss their perspectives.

Another comment that stood out to me was the line about how the teachers Bain studied for the article “often chose rooms with moveable chairs” (128).  Last year, my previous university built an new learning commons with unique classrooms. All of the desks could be taken apart, all chairs had wheels, multiple screens and multimedia tools were throughout the room, and there was lots of space for writing on white boards. Several of the people from my cohort were able to experiment in a totally new way in a classroom. This classroom style seems super useful to creating a natural critical learning environment. Professors who used those classrooms were able to use multiple types of media and classroom arrangements to change up their lecture styles. One of the members of my cohort was able to do a media-themed class and use the new classroom style to do things I was not able to do because I was in a classroom that had only one table and a single computer.

Reflecting on Teaching Keywords Lesson Plan

For this activity, I read a little bit about active learning activities in the classroom. I wanted to do something that required students to communicate and brainstorm with each other. I originally considered using a short clipping from a newspaper to spur discussion of keywords in small pairs. However, I decided that I wanted to make the assignment a little broader and change it into groups of 3. I created two scenarios in which a student is beginning their research process. My hope is that in a freshman composition classroom this would help students become comfortable talking with their classmates and sharing ideas about their projects. I see it as a useful brainstorming session that could help students think about their own upcoming projects. I ask the students to get into small groups and create a list of at least 8 key terms and phrases that Student A could use to help her begin her search. Once the group has come up with key words, they then would work together to order the terms from most broad to most narrow.

Reflecting on “The Heart of a Teacher” and My Own Mentor Experience

I found the section “Mentors Who Evoked Us” to be particularly thought provoking. I decided to reflect on my own experience with a mentor that I had during my undergraduate degree. Palmer describes how “in this encounter, not only are the qualities of the mentor revealed, but the qualities of the student are drawn out in a way that is equally revealing.” Like Palmer, I was also the first in my family attend college. I met my mentor during my fourth semester in college. He ran his undergraduate classrooms much like graduate seminars. Instead of lecturing, we were all in a conversation. When someone said something important, he would write it on the board. He would try to provoke students into coming into answers themselves. At the beginning of every class, he would read a children’s book aloud (the class was western civilization literature part one). He liked to relax the class before we started. My mentor always said what he thought, with seemingly no holds barred. In a word, he seemed authentic. At the time, I was shy. I had trouble speaking in front of crowds (I still do, but it’s markedly better than before). I wanted to emulate his confidence.

I’ve been teaching in some shape or form for two years now. I am still growing in my style and in my classroom approach. I tended very much towards a Socratic seminar style in the literature classes that I was a TA for, and I attribute that choice to my mentor’s style of teaching. I am working on connecting with my inner teacher.