Serving, Supporting, Empowering
When I first started as a teacher, reflecting on teaching always made me think more about the subject than the student – more about the science than the art. I thought it was important to know my subject area thoroughly. I knew it was important to use best practices, and that I had to keep digging to find the best of those. But I also thought I needed to have most, if not all, the answers. I needed to be an authority in what I knew and did. Before too many years had passed, however, this mindset shifted a bit. I realized my knowledge was only a smaller part of a much larger picture. The much more profound part of teaching is the learner. The only way I can affect learning is to build strong, positive relationships.
Teachers share information.
Teachers have to share information to make sure learners are aware of the common terms and knowledge base appropriate for library science and teaching. I want learners to know there is a wealth of research and knowledge about our field. I want them to find interests that they will continue to explore themselves. My desire here is to strike a chord with learners that will enable them see where our wants and needs are shared or diverge as a profession of librarians – to help them start to see the library as their place.
Teachers facilitate and coach.
After students understand the basics of our profession, they can explore parts of library science or teaching that are meaningful to them. I want to help where help is needed, but I want to ask questions that will help each learner become an independent, self-reliant in their studies as well as a better teacher or librarian. I want to establish an atmosphere where trying new things is the norm and failures are just challenges to explore new options. I want students to move toward investing in and owning their learning.
Teachers encourage collaboration.
Students are going to have to work with someone at sometime. They will have to work with students, faculty, and administration at the very least. A strong librarian will initiate collaboration, so coursework should be set up to reflect collaborative practices. Being a school librarian can be isolating, so I want learners to see the need for collaboration and to build the habit of seeking working partnerships.
Teachers give feedback.
I love working with rubrics as it gives students and myself guidelines to follow. Even with rubrics, though, sometimes there is a lack of skill or understanding. Students need specific feedback as soon as possible. I am also a big believer in involving students in the grading process. They should self evaluate their own work completing personal rubrics with thoughtful reasoning for their scores. Comparing student and teacher rubrics is a great place to start feedback conversations and guide the student to become a reflective learner and leader.
Reflection is not a normal state of mind for me. I am a doer. I start a task and plow through to the end. At the beginning, I reflected because it was part of my evaluation. Eventually, it became an integral part of my teaching. I examine lessons and activities as well as wording, intent, and real versus expected outcomes. I learned the value of data and research in planning. I learned to look at the needs of the student in light of the standards and objectives and not just the standards and objectives. This is the beginning of relationship building that sets all the learning in motion.