Weekly class takeaway: Workshops are fun.
Even after watching three and running one with my group, I didn’t feel I’d been inundated with too much information. I also was not bored. Lula may have slept through most of it, but she had a busy day. Everything related to ethics. It seems like when you get two hours of ethics slammed down your throat, you wouldn’t want to come back for more. I did. And I think I know why. Each group had a slightly different set-up with slightly different activities.
There was something dynamic about going through several different workshops at the same time. Given, I’m not sure if this is how it works when one is no longer a baby librarian. Librarian librarians may only do one at a time and they may be longer. So, the workshops I went to last class were fun. I will reserve judgment on the real world of workshops.
I myself got a bit too caught up in the information being presented, rather than the way it was actually presented. Instruction is so different from the way I have processed information in the past. The way I have interacted with instruction involves taking things in, processing it, and then presenting it in some format. The presenting of information in a format being a very clear written instructional or argumentative paper. Basically, the presentation is not verbal. The preparation is rather loosey-goosey; just haphazardly collecting information in bits and pieces. While this may be the best way to instruct me, it is not the best way to instruct others. I will most likely end up discussing this little epiphany in the individual section of this assignment. Luckily, I now have a good reference point and know what to focus on in the future.
Speaking of needing a reference point. Let’s talk about the webinar I watched. It was put on by ACRL and was called Teaching Information Literacy Threshold Concepts: Lesson Plans for Librarians. As it turns out, it wasn’t a presentation/discussion about the topic. Instead, it was basically a really bad teaser trailer for their book. The first 20 minutes discussed their inspiration for the book over the past 3 years in which they have been developing it, after which there were five slides (including some blank ones) for the last 40 minutes. They went over two of their Threshold Concepts, which did not even seem like a threshold. One section titled, Information has value, basically stated a fact. The slides accompanying this section was an image capture of their book with highlighted sentences and bullet points on the side. The worst part was that I did not even know why I was there or the purpose. On top of that, no one was allowed to ask questions until the end (about 5 minutes..). The lack of participation effort or any instructional tropes made it difficult to get involved witht he conversation at all.
Which is why I am very happy that this weeks reading focused on Effective Teaching. I’ve recognized when different techniques are being used in class and I even understand why, but deciding what kind environment will be effective remains elusive. This harkens back to chapter 6, which provided background about how the goal of education has changed and the rise of learner-centered environments. The broad strokes followed what I had recognized, but the specifics of chapter 7 was very helpful to solidify my understanding.
Teaching as coaching is such an effective analogy. The facts matter just like the skills do in a sport. What matters more is an understanding of the game; passing a soccer ball with accuracy is useless if you don’t understand offsides. Ultimately, you have to understand the game and then apply the skills to the game. Just like how one educator took a week to define the framework of the historical subject matter before they applied the facts. I have had plenty of good teachers and good coaches (bad ones too), but I had not realized what they had in common. An effective coach helps his players understand the game itself, just like an effective teacher takes instruction beyond historical facts, computation, and scientific formulas.
That said, it comes down to what the goal actually is and speaks to the importance of understanding what your field is and how people can learn it. I’ve had coaches that do not understand the game and others who believe winning rather than understanding is important. The teacher’s idea about the nature of learning history affected how they taught and what they wanted their students to achieve. I’ve seen the same thing in coaching.
Be a Coach Furstenberg, not a Coach Jamie.
Be a Ms. Kelsey, not a Mr. Barnes.
And remember, you are never finished learning.