From a young age, I was always drawn to reading and writing. In school, my best subject was English and I often found a quiet place to read rather than socialize at break and lunch. I never thought of myself as a good student. In fact, senior year when my English teacher asked me what career I might want to pursue, he laughed at my hesitant response of “Uh, I don’t know, a teacher?” For how much disdain I showed for homework and writing essays, he thought that it was a ridiculous notion that I would want to continue in academia. Despite this negative response, I went to college in pursuit of an English degree with the plan of becoming a teacher.
My partner of eight years, who had also been in my senior English class, encouraged me; He went on to get his own degrees and a teaching credential. He completed schooling quicker than I did, and so I was able to see his experience as he developed into the teacher he is today. When it finally neared the time of my undergraduate graduation, I started considering what my next step would be. I interned in a high school English class, extremely excited at observing the day in a life of a high school English teacher.
Unfortunately, it brought me back to the negative, oppressive feelings that I felt as a student in high school. It wasn’t the teacher’s fault. The teacher I observed was quirky and the students obviously loved her dearly. I kept waiting for the new and exciting parts of the teacher’s day to be revealed. Instead, day-by-day the teacher’s enthusiasm dampened; week-by-week the teacher’s exasperation, with the school standards and with the students, grew. I started realizing that perhaps teaching in a predetermined, state-mandated box was just as oppressive as learning in one.
I shifted focus. What I loved about teaching was helping people discover new things that would connect them with something that they never considered before. The moments that this happened for me were (1) when I would introduce people to new authors, books, or genres, and (2) when I would demonstrate the efficiency and gratification of a new technology. Where did I find myself in these teaching moments? The library.
This module, exploring the library as classroom, is my favorite module of the Hyperlinked Library. The aspect of the Bookey (2015) article that fascinated me the most was that the library provides opportunities for families to learn together. Adults, teens, and children can attend the same program and connect with it completely differently. The fairy hunt put on by the Sacramento Public Library allowed children to use their critical thinking skills to figure out the clues for the hunt, while the parents got to interact and learn about the small businesses in between the two branches of the library. The LIT room at the Richland County Library affords students and young adults to coordinate programming with a story time that peaks children’s imaginations. Children will get a kick out of their parents having just as much fun during a program that they believe is “just for kids.” The opportunities to learn together will establish a memory that the whole family can reminisce on.
I connected with the next two articles I read because I considered similar questions for my INFO 285 research proposal. Lippincott (2015) and Pewhairangi (2016) talk about the opportunities for library staff to learn in the library, and then take that learning to assist teaching faculty in incorporating opportunities to increase digital literacy in their lesson plans. Lippincott discusses concepts that are actually very close to the research questions I asked in my research proposal. I ask about the professional development opportunities on classroom technology and software that is provided by the institution’s library. My literature review would have definitely benefited from the inclusion of this article. With professional development opportunities provided by librarians, teaching faculty in higher education can establish relationships on campus that will help them and their students. Involving librarians in building a curriculum can result in collaborative efforts in the classroom and library setting. Pewhairangi’s discussion of the Creative Classrooms Research Model essentially asks organizations to apply the same learning model they hope to provide for patrons in the library to the development and learning of the library staff. Considering new learning models should also apply to the way that we as information professionals progress.
I am lucky to have found way to be a teacher that does not inhibit creative learning. In libraries there are so many options for teaching outside the box, on the computer, out on the town, individually, collaboratively, and the list goes on. The library has the ability to take learning and transform it so that people forget that they are even learning. They’re experiencing, experimenting, celebrating, and discovering in ways that they never would have imagined. When I think back on my senior English teacher guffawing at my interest in teaching, instead of seeing it as an insult, I’ll look at is as a foreshadowing. It wasn’t my destiny to teach in a traditional classroom; I was meant to be in the new wave of teachers whose dynamic classroom is in the library.
P.S. My senior English teacher from high school graduated from the SJSU MLIS program back in 2013. He must have got tired of teaching/learning inside the box, too.