Sunday, July 15, 2018

Teaching About (But Not In) A Library

I love teaching the blended model of the Library Additional Qualification Part 1 an Part 2 course for York University! There are a lot of things I enjoy about it (and 12 reasons come to mind immediately - the 12 people who are enrolled in the course and bring so much of themselves to the experience). The ironic thing is that I'm teaching about library without being in a library. We are situated at Northern Secondary School in Toronto and the permit did not include using the library.
Signage in the hall by our front door

It is possible to learn about librarianship without the physical library - after all, many 100% online AQ courses do exactly that. However, knowing the impact of the physical spaces we work and learn in, we really worked hard as a group to make the classroom work for us.
I brought boxes and boxes of books for reference materials, as well as some of my old library-themed posters to hang up, but some of the most powerful and important displays in the room were made by all of us together - instructor and participants.

It was important to get to know each other by name and something as simple as having our names, correctly spelled, on the board, helped as a visual reminder.

This is US
Despite being a Library course, we didn't delve into library business right away. We spent a lot of time establishing and developing our group norms. The neat thing is that we've referred back to this chart, both to congratulate ourselves on a job well done and to remind ourselves when we must stick to our ideals.

Keep it simple - just 4 norms
Something that evolved from suggestions from the group is the Ideas Wall. When someone mentions something that someone else wants to remember or record, we are now at the point where someone just points to the Ideas Wall and someone (not even the originator of the idea) writes it down. We also make a point of including the name of the person that brought it up, so that we can model how to cite sources even on a very basic level. Don't worry, we have a Google Doc where we save all of the ideas from each day online (as well as a photo of the board).

Capturing an idea
Another display that wasn't originally part of the plan grew out of our group norms. Since we are all on the path towards considering equity even in our use of words, we've created an Inclusive Language area. That way, we brainstorm alternatives to using terms like "guys" or "crazy".

We have online tools, but sometimes a physical reminder is helpful, which is why we added a big paper calendar to the classroom. Notice the TALCO / OSLA Student Inquiry Process Guide poster next to the calendar? We've referred to it several times during the course.

Calendar became out of date almost immediately, but we modified it.
Sometimes making something, even if it isn't as pretty, is super-handy. The Part 1 candidates made this question matrix and then added examples of "juicy inquiry questions" for each category. Some of these questions are so intriguing, it just makes you want to investigate!

Q words on top, verbs on side, great Qs inside!
We did a big experiment and made a "visible thinking wall" of the Inquiry Process. When it was on the floor, it was actually 3D!

In my own library program, I'm a big fan of field trips. This AQ is no exception. On July 5, 2018 the group went to MakerEdTO. On Wednesday, July 11 our wonderful guest speaker (Michelle Solomon from the Association of Media Literacy, who also happens to be one of the teacher-librarians at Northern Secondary School) brought us into the library.

Checking out the Northern SS Library space

On Thursday, June 12, we went to The Beguiling to learn from the best (aka Andrew and Christina) about graphic novels, collection development, and the importance of supporting local, independent, specialty book stores. On July 17, we are heading to Mabel's Fables.

So even though our classroom is not perfect, it's much better than some of the other spaces used by the other AQs (our room isn't as hot and isn't as crowded) and it's a wonderful way to build displays and areas we could use in our own libraries, co-constructed by all who use the space. There's only four more in-person days left for the course (and then the rest is all online completion) and I'll miss this group of educators. Thanks for making that old classroom a vibrant place that belongs to us! 

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