As a student in the School of Library and Information Studies program here at UA we are provided with the opportunity for an internship; my internship this summer is with Gorgas Information Services. Working with the Instruction Coordinator Librarian I am assisting with the Curriculum Mapping project with which the library has been involved. This project involves assisting in data collection on required courses, data transformation of information collected by other librarians, and other projects as assigned.
As part of our weekly reading we read an article by L.H. Charles—“Using an Information Literacy Curriculum Map as Means of Communication and Accountability for Stakeholders in Higher Eduction” (log-in required)—to examine the connection between the map and information literacy, and the benefits the curriculum map had to the wider university community; especially the university administration.
The reading was also helpful as I prepare to move to my first professional library position this August; I hope to do some basic curriculum mapping for that school—likely more like the way that it was discussed in the Charles article than the more detailed mapping that we are doing here at UA. The themes in the article, and my work with UA’s data collection and transformation, will couple together nicely with some initial mapping work for the school to which I am going.
Today was my first day to co-teach an EN 102 class. Overall, I think it went really well. Alex was the main instructor, and I assisted by executing my keyword “active learning” activity that I demoed in our weekly meeting last week.* While the application of the activity in a real classroom wasn’t perfect, the instructor seemed to like it, and even complimented me on it at the end of class. So, yay.
Which brings me to our reading last week, “Becoming Critically Reflective: The Process of Learning and Change.” The article’s main focus was to illustrate how our assumptions about the way we teach and the ways we present can be changed by viewing our performance through different lenses. So, while it is certainly healthy to be self-reflective in our vocation, sometimes it is important to get the outside opinions of others, whether it is our peers, our students, or even the theoretical literature surrounding our profession. As I’ve mentioned before, I often get nervous speaking in front of people, so getting to demo my methods in front of my fellow “padawans” each week is super duper helpful. For example, getting that little bit of encouragement from my peers and mentors last week really and truly gave me the confidence to co-teach the class today. Feedback from others is crucial to my success in this internship, as it gives me confidence in what I’m doing and helps me see beyond my nervous disposition. So, keep the criticisms/feedback/praise coming, and I’ll try to do the same for you!
*I added a worksheet component (that used word bubbles) to help guide them along.
Grand Narratives and the Information Cycle in the Library Instruction Classroom by Sara Franks
The overall primary issue within Grand Narratives is the fact that despite whether or not the grand narrative is an effective teaching method it will be my job as a librarian to help patrons find their resources as well as how to critically think about the resources that they might find. It was the second part of this statement that caught most of my attention while reading the rest of the article. I am very interested in evaluation of sources
When I first began to read Grand Narratives, I realized that I was a product of both teaching styles and I found this to be somewhat enlightening. It shed light on some of the whys of my own teaching styles like “Why I am loathing to move away from strict lecture base classes sometimes?” The answer that I came to as I reflected on this article was that as a student I had been exposed to both. My educational background lies in history and many of my survey classes were based on the grand narratives model that Franks describes in her chapter. As I moved into my upper level history classes, I began to be exposed to the other side of Franks’ argument which looked at disciplines like history through individual or fragmented types of lens. Now that I am pursuing my MLIS degree, I have realized that I am now on the other side of the debate as a teacher who is trying to figure out the best way to help my patrons evaluate their chosen sources.
What Do First-Year Students Know About Information Research? And What Can We Teach Them? by Kate Manuel
I feel that every time I read a new article each week my thoughts and perceptions about teaching are always challenged. This leaves me in a place where I find myself reevaluating my beliefs. The article for this week is no different. The primary focus of the article looks at first year college students in basic level English classes and their information literacy level before and after library instruction. The study also focuses in on some of the perceptions that librarians commonly may hold about incoming new students and whether the perceptions that they hold are valid. The article made me realize that many of the perceptions that I have about students are many of the same described within the study.
I have always tried to keep in mind when I am preparing to teach to not assume any perceptions about the knowledge base of my class that is about to walk in. I have discovered that when I do that my classes tend to feel like (in my opinion) a lot of unnecessary explanation and hand holding. I feel that this creates an environment that is very difficult for students to learn in; however, this article made me realize that, like a lot librarians, I do believe in the assumption that my students are coming in with next to no knowledge about the library at all. This makes me think that I have to cover everything so that my students will have a thorough knowledge of the library. I realize in reality that it is next to impossible for me to cover every aspect of library instruction in detail in under an hour in a one shot session.
This study however has shown me that I should have more faith in my students’ base knowledge and not assume that almost all of my students are going to be information illiterate. This study just reinforced the idea that as a teacher I should assume nothing and instead try to gauge the experience of my class throughout the instruction session in order to best meet the students’ needs. I was also reminded that I need to be cognizant that my students are bringing their own experiences to the table and that this is how they are going to perceive, interrupt, and measure the information that I give out. To disregard such an important aspect would be, in my opinion, detrimental to not only the ability of the student to learn but also for me as a teacher in finding the best method in which to rely the needed information.
Becoming Critically Reflective: A Process of Learning and Change
This article was a fascinating and thought provoking read. It primarily explored ways in which teachers could view their practice by standing outside of themselves and observing how they act in the classroom. The author discussed four “distinct lenses” in which teachers can use to reflect upon different areas of their practice. It was two of these lenses that really struck a chord with me.
The first of the two is the Our Autobiographies as Learners and Teachers. This particular lens really hit home for me personally because I have always believed that understanding your past or rather the experiences and memories that guide your decisions helps you grow as a person. I feel that self- reflection as a teacher is one of the most crucial steps in creating a welcoming environment for our students as well as helping establish good communication. From self-reflection, I believe as teachers we gain understanding as to why we prescribe to a particular method or tradition. Reading this article made me realize one of the reasons why I like to have lectures in my classes. Lectures were a primary mode of learning for me, but I also love good storytelling. I had fantastic teachers that could weave facts into a beautiful narrative and while I, as a teacher, may think that this is wonderful my future students may not. This is where the second lens comes in.
The second lens that inspired me is Our Students’ Eyes. I felt that, after reading this article, this second lens was a good balancer for me in regards to Our Autobiographies. The article made a good point that this particular lens is somewhat cloistered in the fact that it is a personal and internal self-evaluation. Memories and experiences can become altered in our minds as we reflect back. I think that lecturing is a wonderful way to learn because it was so successful in my memory but from a student’s eyes it may be a very dull and painful way to learn. I feel that getting to know my students and trying to understand their learning perceptive will only make me a better teacher because the environment that I am trying to create is a rewarding balance for them and me.
I have always considered interal and external reflection to be an important part of my growth and development as a person. The tools that prompt this self reflection have throughout my life have been quite varied so I should not have been surprised when this article became such a tool. The truth was, however, that surprise was mild in comparsion to the reflection that this article created within me. It was more on the level of eye-opening that had me reassessing some of my core ideas about teaching as well as reflecting back to my earlier academic influences.
My academic background has been heavily influenced by lecture based classes and in my heart of hearts I always believed that this would be the way I would conduct my own classroom. However, eight years have passed since I was a freshman and since that time some my ideas have evolved as I have grown as a student. I thought about ways I would change this or tweak that, but it was all centered around a lecture and discussion type format. Upon entering into the MLIS program, I realized that teaching pedogogy had shifted somewhat in a new direction with learning outcomes and some teachers calling for moving away from lecture based classes. This put me into somewhat of a tailspin about my original ideas on teaching. I was intrigued by the new shift and eager to learn more, but the more I learned the more muddled my internal ideas became. It was upon reading this article that a cord was struck with me and I felt that I began to gain some clarity.
The clarity I derived from this article came in two parts. The first part that I was focused upon was that teachers all had various teaching styles and one particular method was not better than another. This revelation was like light shining for me into a dark room. I knew on a certain level that this was true but when I looked back some of my best teachers almost all of them used the lecture based approach. Upon entering into my MLIS program, many of my professors had wonderful but varying teaching styles. This is where the waters got muddled in my mind because I was not sure which path I should follow. Reading this article however made my realize that I was not alone in this confusion.
The second part that I derived from the article was the concept of balance and this point right here cleaned up my internal traffic jam. The article gave examples of some of the best practices of teachers using various methods in a hybrid fashion. From this, I realized that I did not have to fore go my plans of using lecture but I also did not have to just be restricted by it either. The knowledge that I could have a hybrid teaching method not only thrilled me but made me realize once again that not everyone learns in the same way. Knowing now that when I go into a classroom I could possibly have a teaching method that could reach students on various levels is thrilling to my internal core.