Teacher (>,<, or =) Librarian: Where is our role?

Today I had my first Info Lit class of my new job, and it was great to be back in front of students. My energy and job fulfillment come from my interaction with students and getting back teaching breathed life back into me after doing more librarian focused duties for the past few weeks.

I've wrestled with the label of "librarian" for a long time. Am I a librarian who teaches or a teacher who's a librarian? I've struggled with this concept over the last year, trying to determine what choosing one over the other meant for my career. And while there is a clear answer for me based on how I came where I am today, the answer may not be clear for others. But the question is, should it?

At LOEX of the West back in June, Lisa Hinchliffe and Merinda Kaye Hensley spoke about teacher self identity. They described how they were helping create and foster it both in Library Science grad students and in current library faculty. At the beginning of their session, they brought up the concept of "seeing yourself as a teacher, not just assigned teaching duties." This really hit home for me. I am accoustomed to seeing myself as a teacher and sometimes take it for granted that others do.

Off of Lisa's reccomendation during their presentation, I've started reading Parker Palmers' "The Courage to Teach" and read through Scott Walter's "Librarians as Teachers: A Qualitative Inquiry into Professional Identity" article out of College and Research Libraries Janurary issue.

The attendees at the LOEX of the West session brained stormed ideas about "what they wished we known." A partical list is below and it's a great start to reflection over the summer.

  • How to "stand" like a teacher
  • Creating learning outcomes
  • Problems with routine/burnout
  • Handling change as teachable moments
  • Adapting to learning styles
  • Teaching different levels and generations
  • How to focus content
  • Personal control over content
  • Creating collaborations
  • Classroom management
  • Teaching strategies for engagement and active learning
  • Respecting the students and their lives
Where do you fall with the issues? What questions do you have?
We can use the summer not only to get our libraries ready for students in the fall, but ourselves as well.

The ACRL IS section sponsored a session with Jeffrey Liles as the speaker at the ALA conference. Dr. Liles spoke about learning theory and how that can and should translate into the classroom. His theory to practice worksheet can be found on his website along with the conference presentation slides and a host of other resources. His education and learning assumptions (as shown in the slides) are great for any teacher to keep in mind. Some of them fit right into good gaming and good educational pedagogy:
  • Less is more
  • Student in control of their learning
  • Learning is not linear
These assumptions and their connections to learning theory were are great reminder and grounding to start fresh in a new semester and a new classroom.

In my new position I'm spending a lot of time thinking about these teaching issues. I'm working on communicating these ideas and pedagogies to the librarians around me, while still valuing their experience and knowledge. Everyone has something to learn and something to teach. I look forward to experiencing both as a Teacher-Librarian.

Now since this blog focuses on videogames, information literacy, and gaming strategies for pedagogy, teaching philosophy discussions won't happen very often. And just to tie this post back to gaming, here's another example from Teach42's post on creative answers...

From a gamers vocabulary that is a correct answer: "pro" is the opposite of "noob." As teachers, we may never be pros. I'm fine with that. The continued learning and honing of skills is a good thing in the classroom and in any game. While our students may or may not be "noobs" they will grow in their skills as long as we don't consider ourselves too good of "pros" to stop learning and practicing.

Images from Steve Dembo at Teach42 post full of funny test answers from students