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Katie Fraser's blog and website

I'm an academic librarian, working in the UK Higher Educational sector, supporting academics and students. Prior to this, I was a researcher, working with social and learning technologies.

My interests include the application of emerging and traditional technologies, research support in libraries, learning spaces, evidence-based practice and the professional development of library and information workers.

You can find out more about more about me from the links to the left. Note that the views expressed on this website/blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other individual or organisation.

LILAC 2010: Part two – Reflections on Teaching

April 15th, 2010

LILAC Programme and Worksheet

LILAC Programme and Workshop Worksheet

Following on from my previous post on LILAC – LILAC: Part One – Workshop Presentation I wanted to reflect on sessions I’d been to discussing teaching. Over the summer one of my priorities is to think about the teaching I’ll be doing in my new job. LILAC started to help me with this, and there were a few sessions I wanted to pick out to share.

In her talk on librarians as teachers Claire McGuinness found librarians often seemed insecure in their teacher identities and covered some reasons why it’s been argued librarians are not ‘true’ teachers (e.g. not doing the same type of teaching as academics).

Claire’s discussion of teacher identify resonated with a talk I’d attended at the SRHE Conference in 2009 on The challenges for new academics in adopting student-centred approaches to learning by Ian Sadler. Ian found that unfamiliarity with material meant new academics were often nervous about experimenting with pedagogy. Perhaps the insecurity of librarians can be attributed to us being seen as ‘new academics’ as a profession, and I wonder if this has impact on the kinds of teaching we attempt.

Another aspect of teacher librarian development is training, and a session with Amanda Click and Claire Walker about on-the-job training was also helpful. They discovered that line managers of new instructional librarians are twice more likely to think they’re providing training than the instructional librarians themselves! There’s an interesting point there about making sure new teachers feel like they’re supported, and signalling when it’s appropriate for them to reflect and regroup.

A lot of the things Amanda and Claire found new teacher librarians had tried were similar to the teaching development section of my chartership plan, and it’s good to know that new teachers found reading and membership of professional groups beneficial. It was also great to hear the enthusiasm in the room for peer observation and review as a method for developing teaching skills during questions, and something I’ll definitely be exploring.

Finally, I already mentioned Andy Jackson‘s workshop on generic graduate attributes in my institutional blog post but also wanted to mention how empowering it was to realise how we can put information literacy teaching into a wider context, such as social and ethical responsibility. While still at De Montfort I sat in on a session discussing plagiarism run by a colleague, and was really interested to see students’ grasp of the issues behind such authorship and intellectual property. I really believe that getting students to relate their learning to what they know already is important in getting students to understand, remember, and apply information literacy skills. I guess therefore it’s vital to embed what we teach in a wider setting of ethics, citizenship and life skills.

What have I learnt? Being a better teacher is partly about practice and confidence. But attending LILAC has helped consolidate some ideas that have been swimming round in my head about the importance of pedagogy and contextualisation in making student skills useful and transferable. How can I make the ideas I cover in my sessions relevant to students, and is it even possible to make sure these ideas stick with students in future study, employment and lifelong learning? My next step is to actually try and answer these questions while designing my teaching: sounds like a process to document in my chartership portfolio!

After two years of attendance I can’t recommend LILAC enough. It seems to be a really great conference, the sessions are peer reviewed, and I always seem to come away with a new perspective on my professional development. I hope I’ll be able to go next year!

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