Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Looking at some more old lesson plans

As I continue digging through old lesson plans, I am wondering if I will need some of the stuff for a little training I will be doing this summer. Thinking about that reminded me of when I was getting ready to participate in the National Writing Project. Back then, I had to prepare teaching demos, so I went through teaching materials to select some good items. I think one my demos was based on creative extensions to research papers.

One of the things that I am finding as I look over quickly scribbled notes in the lesson plans is that I often skip steps in the lesson plans. Now, I always step into a classroom with a written lesson plan. This goes back to my days as a student teacher when my supervising teacher demanded I turn in my lesson plan before she would let me teach in her classroom. It just became ingrained behavior, and it has served me well. However, I am very easy going in the classroom setting, so deviating from a written plan for me is not out of the ordinary. Reasons for me deviating from a plan or skipping steps may range from running out of time to it turned out that I chose a different database to demonstrate on the fly. Much of this is based on class dynamic. At times, it is based on the professor telling me they want something specific that they failed to mention before they met me in the classroom. As for class dynamic, it is something that you measure as you go along.

I noticed I taught for two science classes: organic chemistry and biology. I also provided instruction for a medical writing class that required me to polish my skills using Medline.

Another "fun" moment I recalled in my review was teaching when the Internet went down. In my place, when it goes down, it really goes down, making sure that nothing other than minimal reference work can be done. It does illustrate how dependent we can be on online resources if we don't take the time to know our print sources. Every time someone says they want to eliminate the print reference collection, all I have to do is point out to the times when the Internet goes down. Now, I had a class to teach on one of these days. While the situation threw my original plan out the window, it did not mean we could not have class. I managed to find an old PowerPoint presentation that featured screenshots of the databases we were to cover. I added some additional discussion of search strategies, use of Booleans, and I was able to get students to suggest some of their topics so I could then suggest search terms. So, while the session was a bit shorter, we did manage to make good use of the time. At least they got a good headstart. Situations like that at times make me wonder about the more technolusty in my profession. The situations remind me why I have no interest in dwelling in Mount Ubertech. L2 (the technolust part, not the philosophy) can be stopped in its tracks with a few Internet downtime moments. Luckily, some of us can still use print and improvise.

And then there was the instructor who stayed outside of the classroom while I was doing my lesson. What was she doing? Grading her papers. Now, times like these I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, I think it is important for the instructor to be present and reinforce the library's lesson. And I must note that I have some professors who do just that and more. On the other hand, very often I am fine if they stay to the side and let me take care of their students. Since I have taught at the college level, I have a sense of what the students need to know, so I can often seize on that to reinforce why a particular BI session is important to them. That I can be entertaining at times I am sure helps. I am sure other librarians feel differently about this.

For small groups or ten or less, I usually go to a "consultation" mode rather than teaching a formal lesson. Groups that small are a good size for me to ask questions and for them to reply and tell me their specific needs. Often, these smaller classes tend to be classes like the ESL classes or graduate level classes. In both cases, the students tend to be very pleasant to work with, and they usually have specific topics and research needs. At times, I wish more of my classes were like these.

No comments: