I was given a chance to go to the ACRL Intentional Teacher Immersion that was held in Nashville, Tennessee from November 16th to November 20th. It was an incredible, amazing experience. It will take me a long time to really sort out what I learned, so please consider this a first draft.
The workshop followed two themes. The importance of reflection on our teaching practice and alternative pedagogical techniques.
Reflection on our teaching practice. The framework for this part of the workshop was taken from “Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher” by Stephen Brookfield. Brookfield describes 4 different lenses through which to review our teaching: the literature, our colleagues, our students, and the intimate connection of our teaching practice to our autobiography. As a whole class, and in small groups, we considered each lens in turn, including the challenges each presented.
Up until now I have been largely flying by instinct when I get in front of a group of students. I found within my cohort, people who were as committed as I am to teaching, and were able to give me concrete feedback about some to the strategies that I have been using. I am finding the presence of colleagues in my life who can support my practice, to be critical. Relationships take real work, so this was a really important reminder.
The “student lens” is hard for me to judge because right now most of my connections with the student body are anonymous, and structured around “one shot” presentations. I have come home with lots of ideas about how to make my presentations more interactive, and how to really let the students have a voice.
The greatest insight I got from considering my own autobiography is to remember that the content I teach (information structures) came to me very easily. It is, in essence, my native territory. I need to remember that it may not come as easily to others.
The last of the four is literature. It was interesting to find my instincts confirmed by the presenters. I am an active researcher and I am currently working on an annotated bibliography on the assessment of information literacy.
This was also an incredible opportunity to watch a couple of Master Teachers in action. We did small group work (peer instruction), reader’s theater, craft projects (certainly valid for those in the group that were teaching for credit), and we received individualized instruction. We were encouraged to see the validity of the lecture, when it is done well, but also to consider a whole range of instructional techniques.
So that’s my frame, one week out. Please view me as a resource, should you wish to further explore any of these themes. I feel I must conclude by paying homage to our instructors… Randy Helmseley of Baruch and Mary MacDonald from University of Rhode Island. They were incredible!