9B: Reflection on Readings

My grandma, who we all call Mamaw, has been teaching or tutoring students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities for over twenty years. When I was six, she even taught me for awhile when we all ended up in Florida three months before school actually let out. What stood out to me was the difference between being taught by a teacher trying to educate twenty children at once and being taught by my own personal teacher/Mamaw. Not only were the times more irregular and the dynamic different, but I found things moving much faster. Alone I lost the group discussion part, gained a Mamaw discussion part, and was not held back if my classmates were lagging behind. Without other’s around, I could be taught in a specialized way.

I think this individual versus group concept can be applied to the topic of instruction in libraries.  An academic librarian may deal with a great many individuals who come to them to learn about the library and information literacy. However, that same librarian could also have multiple groups come in asking for help or even take over another professors class for a day to give a lecture. The individual, the groups, and the classroom all want to learn the same thing. Yet, each of these different scenarios possesses its own unique dynamic and the librarian would be best off if she approached them in three distinct ways. They will all learn the same information, but the journey to that information can be vastly different. While the end result is more people educated about information literacy, a single protocol for teaching it will not work.

From the reading we know that a single protocol may not even work between lessons with the same number of people. It seems to me that all the standards that have been created, such as the AASL “Standards for the 21st Centruty Learner”, the IMLS “Museum, Libraries. and 21st Century Skills”, the ADDIE model, and UbD, have been created as different ways to help address these very different types of “classroom dynamics”. For instance, ADDIE is useful in short lessons and helps instructors continually re-evaluate throughout. This is a lot like what my Mamaw used when we were in Florida, as it both allowed her to discover my individual needs and evaluate what worked best on a continual basis. It worked for my Mamaw and me, but that does not mean Mamaw uses that method in her individual tutoring where she tends to adopt a more linear model that allows her to provide more guidance and feedback. Additionally, ADDIE is not something I experienced in a classroom. In a classroom,  you have to understand many students’ needs at the same time, which lends itself a slower and more deliberate type of evaluation.

I guess what I am getting at is there are a great many variables involved in instruction: a public library versus an academic one, a single student versus a larger group, a college student having trouble finding information versus an elementary student having trouble retaining it. It seems important that we are cognizant of the where, who and what we are teaching, so that we can establish the proper how. A similar structure is used to assess how successful a specific reference service has been. I suggest it could be used before the interaction ever takes place. A quick evaluation done before the interaction could yeild overall better results than if a librarian simply uses one method to teach a specific skill. Instead of having a way of teaching the skill, I think it would be better to have learned multiple ways of instructing different people in different types of situations, even if they are all gaining knowledge on the same skill.

My education was neither better or worse in a classroom with other students than it was in a living room with my Mamaw. The methods were different, but I learned all the same things that my classmates had learned. When I got back, we were all armed with the same skills, we had simply gotten them in different ways.

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3 thoughts on “9B: Reflection on Readings

  1. I appreciate you sharing your personal experiences with us. I think it gave you a really unique insight into the readings for this week. I also appreciate you pointing out that one teaching method is not necessarily better than the other. It really does come down to the who and what. As you pointed out, it is valuable to know how to teach the same skill in many different ways!

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  2. I agree with your ideas about various instructional methods being more appropriate and effective in different contexts, but it does set a high bar for instruction librarians to become fluent in these multiple models. It seems almost like learning different languages. There are similarities, of course, and with a decent understanding of them you can probably mix and match a bit on the fly. Still, it’s a lot to absorb and it multiplies the amount of practice required to achieve a sufficient level of comfort in an instructional setting.

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  3. All of these different instructional methods overwhelmed me as I was reading them! Like Nicco was saying in his earlier comment, it sets a high bar for instructional librarians and makes me wonder if librarians of all stripes need some sort of teaching certificate or educational degree. I thought your personal example was great in flushing out the different ways and environments in which people learn. Understanding that not one single protocol can fit every educational situation is a key insight that can serve librarians well, even if they are not steeped in educational methods or theories!

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