A timely reminder

This week I found myself back in the role of a learner, and in an uncomfortable position of a learner struggling to grasp even basic concepts. I was learning a new craft, or more correctly struggling to learn a new craft (the experience is posted here, if you want a read).

There is a particular section

“Three hours later and I’m questioning if I really like weaving at all. I am overwhelmed by alien terminology, a lack of knowledge of what each process achieves. Forums are a no-go area, full of language beyond my understanding and pictures of beautifully woven objects. I feel an outsider and I can only join when I pass an initiation test and make some beautifully woven fabric.”

And this was when I realised I was in a real life example of Lave and Wenger’s community of practice. Or rather outside of the Community of Practice trying to find a way in, but there were a lot of obstacles in the way.

A real life example of learning that has served as a timely teaching reminder. Not everyone comes with the same background knowledge and understanding, not everyone can pick up ideas quickly, nor does everyone pick up ideas at the same pace. Sometimes what appears simple to some is incomprehensible to others. We all have our smooth flat journeys and we all have our steep mountains to climb.

What I can do as a teacher is acknowledge and respond to an individual’s background knowledge and understanding, think about that alien terminology (and in libraryland it abounds) and what I can do to translate it, develop teaching that allows for individuals pace of learning, remember that there is more than one way to learn and definitely don’t expect a masterpiece on the first try.

This isn’t to say that I don’t approach teaching with this mindset anyway, but there is nothing like feeling unhappy, out of your comfort zone and clueless to remind you that maybe sometimes this is how your students feel.¬†With a lot of teaching ahead in the next few months, I’ll be updating¬†these sessions with those feelings in mind.

 

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The year ahead

As this blog is called Librarycow’s Library Reflections it seems apt to reflect on 2012 and what it has meant for me.

What started as a fairly calm year brought unexpected events, most notable of which for me was a new role.

I’m now “acting up” as a team leader for the science subject librarians. While it’s not a role that I’ve been comfortable with all the time, I’m gradually becoming more confident in what I do. I won’t deny I’m still finding my feet , but I’m enjoying the adventure rather than being in a state of mad panic.

I finished my PGcert. The PGcert process has been an enriching experience for me. I won’t deny there were bad times (tears at 4am when I could find anything to write), but the overall experience did make the tears worthwhile. I found the overall experience far more rewarding than my Librarianship MA. The knowledge and experience it brought were far more relevant to my role. I also found the process of learning far deeper and reflective than the MA. Now this may be due to nature of the subjects, but to my mind it reflected what an masters course should involve :- a move to independent thinking that provides a bridge between undergraduate study and a research degree /professional qualification.

I helped organise the 2nd London LibTeachMeet, you can read all about it here. I had a great time and it was great to meet so many talented and passionate people with an interest in infolit.

I became more professionally involved with other groups as well, such as Information Literacy Group and USTLG, joining in with London Libraries Learning Research Reading Group. I gain a lot from these groups so I think it’s a good thing if I can give something back, even if it is only a small amount. Hopefully I can continue with this next year and perhaps even set a little bit more time aside for it.

So what will 2013 bring, well I can’t say, but I hope that I look forward to it and take up the opportunities that come along. I don’t really have any work based resolutions (it was interesting while reflecting on this year and thinking about next year that most of the resolutions revolved around family life).

My one firm resolution is to make sure that I catch the 6.15 train home. This will involve me working smarter, but it is one resolution I want to be able to tick off on December 31st 2013.

Otherwise I want to stay more involved, through groups like ILG/USTLG and joining in with the Information Literacy Journal Club. I would also like to visit some of my fellow professionals. I’m very interested in finding out how other institutions provide information literacy and hopefully during 2013 I can book in some visits to see how they do it.So can I come and see you?