By: Shorba Harkhu
You have planned your library instruction session and laid out your objectives. Now comes the hardest part: teaching. During the course of your session do you constantly question whether you are engaging with the students or connecting with them? As our sessions are mainly hands-on, are our students taking in what we are teaching them? Unfortunately, as librarians, we do not receive formal training on how to teach. This is acquired through experience. So how do you develop good teaching practices?
The University of Texas at Austin (2016) suggests the following pointers:
1. Laying out your objectives. Explain to the students what your goals for the session are going to be, and whether they will involve any practical activity. Writing them on the board or including them in a hand-out can reinforce the focus of the session.
2. Projection. Make sure you are speaking loud enough so that everyone can hear you.
3. Pace. Make sure your session is neither fast-paced, nor too slow.
4. Avoid library-speak! Use terminology that students are familiar with.
5. Maintain eye contact. Do not focus only on one person or one section of the room.
6. Use gestures to emphasise a point. If you want to emphasize something, gesture toward the projector screen instead of moving the mouse on your station screen.
7. Walk around to keep your audience's attention. Move around the room, but avoid pacing.
8. Smile and laugh! It makes you more approachable.
Sara Briggs (2014) proposes these guidelines:
1. Match your instruction to the content you are teaching. Some concepts are best taught through hands-on work, some are best imparted through lectures, and others are best communicated through group discussions.
2. Bring your own learning style into balance. Your preferred teaching and communication methods may be influenced by your own learning preference or experience. For example, if you prefer visual rather than verbal learning, you may tend to provide a visual learning experience for your students. Take into account your preferences as well as the range of preferences of your students.
3. Use digital media to enhance your topic. Students have different learning styles. Using videos to engage visual learners or offering podcasts to auditory learners helps students to remember the content better.
4. Aim for the long term, not the short term. Develop skills in students that will last them a lifetime.
How do you connect with students? How do you structure your library instruction sessions? What are your methods of teaching databases or EndNote? Which media do you use? Please share your thoughts.
Briggs, S. 2014. Learning Styles: 30 Tips to Optimize Your Teaching.
The University of Texas at Austin. 2016. Tips and Techniques for Library Instruction. Available: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/services/instruction/tips/ic/ic_speak.html