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.
Below is Michele and my slides on technology in the classroom, learning styles, and using the inquiry method.
I attended the Library Technology Conference this past week in St. Paul, MN. I’ve heard it’s an answer to Computers in Libraries and Internet Librarian being on the coasts and the need for a library tech conference in the Midwest. It did not disappoint. Not only did I get to travel back to the state where I grew up and was able to play golf the weather was so nice, it was also one of the better organized and useful conferences I’ve attended.
I presented on using Mobile Phone Polling to increase student engagement in the classroom. The session was a lot of fun and I always get new ideas from talking to audience members.
In addition to presenting I attended a lot of awesome sessions. Some of my highlight’s of the conference include:
I would recommend this conference to anyone interested in library tech. The keynotes were really inspiring, especially the one from Larry Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium. I will definitely keep this on my radar for future conferences.
Image CC on Flickr by Gregg Obst
Next month Library Journal and Temple University are going to be hosting an event called The Future of the Academic Library Symposium: Bridging the Gaps, and I am a panelist during one of the morning sessions. This is the second year that LJ has held this symposium and it seems like a great event. Not only are there a lot of great folks on the panels who I really respect and love hearing speak (like Erin Dorney, Amanda Etches-Johnson, Jenica Rogers, Aaron Schmidt, and Courtney Young), but it’s also FREE. If you are in and around the Northeast area you should definitely try to make it. Did I mention it’s FREE?
As for the segment that I am in, it is focused on people and is about strengthening the culture in the library. Here’s the brief description:
“Why can’t my colleagues tolerate change?” Don’t these new librarians realize how we do things here?” “How come the deadwood always rejects my great ideas?” “Technology? That’s the new librarian’s job.” Our academic libraries can become fraught with misunderstanding and stereotypes about our colleagues, and when the gaps grow wide they lead to organizational dysfunction. To build better libraries we must confront these gaps. Doing so requires that we engage in authentic conversation focused on creating a better understanding of each other. Once we learn to appreciate our differences, and how our organizations thrive from the mix of skills we bring to it, we an begin to bridge the culture gap.
I am really excited about my co-panelists and the topic that we’re discussing. This summer I volunteered to participate in a 25 hour intensive program about intercultural understanding at Champlain College. We had amazing discussions, watched videos, read articles, debated one another, and gave presentations. Ultimately I think many of us came to a better understanding of our own lenses through which we see the world as well as the lenses of others. After the experience I feel a lot more empowered to have conversations about different cultures and how we can go about bridging the gaps.
I’m looking forward to 11/11/11 in Philadelphia. Hopefully I see you there!