…reflection on readings, How People Learn, Chapter 7…
This chapter was very reminiscent of other teaching pedagogy books I have read either through undergraduate classes or as professional development. The chapter goes through best teaching practices, with examples, of teaching the subjects history, mathematics and science in schools. It uses the best-teaching practices of the featured teachers to discuss certain aspects of good teaching, such as: being sensitive to prior knowledge or misconceptions students may have, understanding what areas students will have difficulty learning, understanding the structures of the discipline – and that it should be taught to the student, holding students’ responsible to deciding and explaining why a certain solution works for a problem, using modeling, on-task practice and demonstrations, among other strategies.
These strategies all work towards providing a framework of good teaching that we may be able to use to help us in our teacher-librarian roles someday. Admittedly, some of the strategies will work far easier than others simply because of the fact that we will see our students once for an hour instead of every day for a semester, or even a whole school year. Still, I appreciate the thoughts behind this chapter in that it is still as important that as the teacher-librarian, we work towards being that good teacher that understands all of those things and is able to impart and help that knowledge to our patrons.
Something that I think will be hard is having a real, deep understanding and connection to the structures and epistemologies of the disciplines we are teaching, especially in some areas. For example, it will be far easier for me as a research librarian to understand the complexities and try to teach how to research using databases than it will be for me as a research librarian to attempt to teach how to build a webpage. Sure, I figured out to create this using the framework wordpress built, and I’ve fuddled my way through posting words and media – but I do not UNDERSTAND it, so therefore, how could I teach it in a setting that was holding a ‘create a webpage seminar’!
Especially in a public library setting where many people are running programs and events that are far outside their comfort zone simply due to the constraints on the staff as a whole, it would be hard to expect librarians to deeply understand everything about every program they run. I don’t mean that libraries aren’t trying to get the people who know about the subject to run the programs, but sometimes you have to step in to help out – and that’s where it will be more tricky than simply being the history teacher and working towards being the best history teacher possible.