Plenty to learn from today because there were plenty of mistakes.
This was a Developmental Reading class.
I completely forgot to set up the evaluate me part, probably because I knew the teacher only wanted me to take 15-20 minutes to show the catalog, library resources, and evaluating websites. I do website evaluation least of any topic, and when I do cover it, it’s usually completely in context of assignments that students have already chosen. I needed to prep much better to have a specific plan on what I was going to say. I can wing website evaluation of a realistic topic that students would be researching. I apparently cannot wing website evaluation of random non-academic topic that could be of personal interest. It doesn’t help that I didn’t ask the class for a topic. At that point I already felt I had lost them so badly I wanted to rush on to the part where they just started doing the assignment.
The teacher was using an assignment that we have for those classes. An assignment I had always thought was beyond terrible. But now that I’ve seen it in action, I get it. The assignment is only slightly about library resources. It’s mostly about reading and following directions. Something these students do NOT take to natually. I really had to suppress my helpful instincts and make them read the sheet and see if they could answer their own questions before adding any tips.
It had them look up an encyclopedia in the catalog, write down the call number, find it, use the index. Look up a dictionary, write down the call number, find it, find a specific aspect of a specific entry. Then go to a specific website and take a quiz.
It definitely gave me a whole new perspective on this assignment. As a reading comprehension assignment it could still use some work, but it’s suddently amazingly better than I had given it credit for. These students needed the practice of reading and following directions and their teacher wanted them to have the experience of visiting the library and meeting a librarian to help lessen their anxiety when they have to do it for real. Very cool.
I also didn’t have the assignment ahead of time. It was up on the library website when I talked to the teacher, but the day of, it was down. And of course I didn’t go looking for it until an hour before the presentation, at which point the document’s creator and the webmaster had both gone home for the day. Note to self – prep further ahead.
While my talking at the beginning part was fairly terrible, once we started doing the assignment it went fine and I was able to help a number of the students individually (most often by pointing to where they needed to read, but still…) and had a much better rapport with them. I was more thrown off than I would have expected by a couple of the large surly male students glaring at me as they reluctantly paid half attention.
I also think it’s another case where I needed to just slow down overall. Even just my talking, but especially my clicking and typing.
Last lesson – as much as I prefer getting into the critical thinking, this one really needed to be a first you click here, then you click there type session. Sometimes that’s OK.