Monday, January 19, 2015

Instruction Introduction

So, as part of my new role, (a big part, really, since my title is Reference & INSTRUCTION librarian) it has become my job to teach the students at the school about the library.

Let's preface this with one simple fact: I have never formally taught anyone in my life.

That said, I am basically a teacher in disguise. If I learn something new, I can't help but to share it with others. Which usually means I'm teaching someone something every day. Whether it's teaching my mom how to use Pinterest (and what Pinterest even is), or showing someone at work how to map their computer to a new printer.

Still, those are not what I have to do - which is to stand up in front of a room of 40 18-20-year olds, who probably could not care less about the library, except for the moment they absolutely have to. These one-shot classes (meaning, you teach the students "everything" about the library in one, 60-minute session - HA) have been taught in the same way for the last couple of years. Using a worksheet, the librarian walks the students through several different aspects of the library - circulation, databases, ebooks, etc - and everyone listens (sort of) to the lecture. In my imagination, they also probably walk away with a somewhat positive impression of the presenter, but probably no strong feelings about the library.

However, we have access to all kinds of new-fangled technology these days. We have a computer lab, where I can put the students into pods on computers, and have them "race" in different library-related challenges. I can use an Epson digital whiteboard to point things out on the page, and to make the interaction with the library website more visible. And I can write hilarious notes on it, or draw smiley faces, which - let's face it - is probably closer to what I'll actually do with it.

So, since I'm 9 months pregnant right now, and basically biding my time until I go into labor, after which I will be away from work for around 8 weeks (though a couple of weeks of that I will be working from home). While I am ready to make some changes to the courses, I can't do it at the moment, because I won't be there to enact my own changes. My goal is to design a whole new course to begin teaching in the summer, which will include some assessment strategies to find out if we are actually teaching the students anything at the end of the day. 

I've spent a lot of my time since I started at my job reading about library instruction. Books, peer-reviewed articles, other blogs... pretty much anything I could get my hands on. And it's helping, I think. I feel less like I'm going on blind than I did when I started. But it's still going to be an experiment in courage the first few times I do everything. 

So, wish me luck, and a lot of good teacher karma. 

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