I presented and attended LOEX last week in Columbus with my awesome colleague Michele Melia. It has become one of my favorite conferences. It is energizing, teaching librarians are really fun and interesting people and everyone was engaged. There was so much good stuff at the conference (not to mention our presentation), but there were several lessons that stood out for me:
- Identity work is key to becoming a good teacher – Often librarians look for tips or tricks to improve their teaching and magically help them become good teachers. While a big part of teaching is having different pedagogical tools and methods to draw on, even more important is discovering who you are as a teacher. You need to understand your own strengths an shortcomings and ways that you are most effective in the classroom. No two people teach the same way and the most important work a teacher can do is internal.
- Bring a skill-share mentality – Char Booth in her awesome keynote presentation briefly touched on this but I also saw it echoed and debated in other sessions. As teachers we are all in this together. We are all at different points and have had different experiences and we need to learn from one another. Instead of creating your instructional materials or lesson plans in a vacuum, share them with your colleagues. Instead of worrying about other people judging you, recognize that everyone has something to learn and has to start somewhere. By sharing our skills we can all become more effective.
- Storytelling – To be an effective presenter and teacher you need to tell stories. Stories create resonance among people and allow us to connect to the topic. They help you seem more authentic in the classroom…another human being. Information can be communicated much more effectively in stories. As opposed to simply telling people statistics about something like tides or stellar life being able to put it into a visual narrative can be much easier to understand.