Diving into the USER Method: (E)ngage (Blog 9)

I was surprised at how much of this chapter focused on designing objects and not the actual act of teaching. In my approach to learning about teaching, I’m much more concerned about the actual act of teaching in front of the class. For an in-person class, I’d rather spend time planning an effective lesson, improving on my strengths as a teacher, and finding new ways to engage students rather than crafting the best handout, worksheet, or PowerPoint. (Side note: I also don’t think PowerPoints make a lot of sense in 85% of one-shot instruction sessions, especially if your goal it to get students as engaged as possible or make your teaching seem as authentic as possible. Nothing says nap time like seeing a PowerPoint brought up on the screen. I know a lot of librarians use them though. What am I missing about them?)

One concept I explored in my teaching observation analysis was the way each librarian I observed had a very different but very clear teaching persona. These differences clearly reflected their underlying philosophies towards teaching and information literacy and affected their energy in class, the way they related to the students, and the way they designed their class. However, each “persona” worked well for the instructor and felt authentic. They were all effective instructors, and wouldn’t have been if they had tried to imitate one of the other styles.

A lot of the ideas in Engage made sense to me, but they are also characteristics that can’t be learned from a book. Developing a teaching persona, figuring out how to use humor, finding your moxie–these all rely on experience. Case in point, I taught a info lit session yesterday where at least five students were flagrantly using their cell phones in class and not participating. I did not find my moxie and ignored it in favor of maintaining the flow of class. Also, I don’t know if I’ve quite found my own teaching persona yet. I still find myself mimicking other (good) instructors that I’ve observed. I’m sure that this is something that will continue to develop with time, but I wonder what else I could do to more intentionally develop my own identity as a teacher.



One thought on “Diving into the USER Method: (E)ngage (Blog 9)

  1. You are not missing anything about power points. I think they give students a great opportunity to not listen to you, especially if you decide to share the slide show after the session. In their beginning days I think they were engaging because it was a new and exciting technology, but now anyone and their mom can make a power point and innovation in your presentation is all but impossible. Perhaps one slide with an agenda or an introduction could be helpful, but teaching “naked” will probably leave a greater impression with students.

    I agree that the techniques Booth pointed out are not ones that can be learned in a book. The whole idea of creating a teaching persona is that you have to play off your own personality, which is obviously unique to everyone else’s. The humor aspect of teaching also seems to be both common sense and hugely intimidating. I mean, we librarians have a very distinct sense of humor. I was observing an ITLR session the other day and the librarian made a few comments that made me laugh, but none of the students so much as cracked a smile. It’s a very tight rope to walk and making it across without falling is going to take practice.

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