Learning From / With Others

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<ul><li><p>8/6/2019 Learning From / With Others</p><p> 1/15</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 Learning From / With Others</p><p> 2/15</p><p>CHAPTER3</p><p>LEARNING FROM/WITH OTHERS</p><p>GOALS</p><p>Introduce gleaning as a means of gathering ideas andinspiration from your environment.</p><p>Discuss the role ofcollaboration in instructional design andteaching effectiveness.</p><p>List approaches, strategies, and resources for creatingcommunities of practice.</p><p>Learn from others, and learn by doing. This is a good rule of thumb forimproving at virtually anything: seeking inspiration and accepting</p><p>criticism makes you more well rounded. Many of the ideas I present in</p><p>this book I first observed among friends and teachers whose methodsI admired or whose recommendations led me to a new approach or</p><p>tool. Through mentorship, co-teaching, professional organizations,online forums, and other channels, I have expanded my own method</p><p>base and gained a clearer perspective on my impact as acommunicator and designer. Part of being a reflective educator is</p><p>being aware of the observations that you make while sitting throughan especially good (or bad) presentation, and not letting instances</p><p>when you identify something useful pass you by. The previous chapterexplored metacognition, the inward-looking aspect of reflective</p><p>practice. In this chapter I examine its external focus: collaboration,observation, and learning from colleagues, students, and peers.</p><p>GLEANINGAs I was writing this manuscript, one of my editors suggested that I</p><p>investigate an author named Kevin Kumashiro, who has writtenseveral books on critical pedagogy including Troubling Education:</p><p>Queer Activism and Anti-Oppressive Pedagogy, and Six Lenses for</p><p>Anti-Oppressive Education: Partial Stories, Improbable Conversations,which led me to a Kumashiro article on movements to curtail instructor</p><p>development in theJournal of Teacher Education. Similarly, when my</p><p>friend Emily Drabinski tweeted that she had recently finished the bookmentioned in the previous chapter (Critical Library Instruction), Iordered a copy to inform my understanding of critical pedagogy.1</p><p>Research builds a composite of ideas collected through chanceand diligence, which is similar to a reflective concept I call gleaning</p><p>incorporating the connections that naturally occur throughcollaboration, participation, and simply moving through the day into</p><p>whatever you happen to be working on. Dictionary definitions of</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 Learning From / With Others</p><p> 3/15</p><p>gleaning go something like this: extracting information from various</p><p>sources; collecting bit by bit. Traditionally, the term referred topeople who gathered remnants of crops left in fields and orchards after</p><p>a harvest, and modern manifestations of gleaning such as dumpsterdiving were famously reexamined in a 2000 film by Agnes Varda, Les</p><p>glaneurs et la glanuese (The Gleaners and I). Broadened toprofessional practice, gleaning becomes a way to rely on the external</p><p>world as a source of practical inspiration. It is a mindset in which younotice potential solutions to the challenges you face and make use ofthe resources around you. From DIY to GTD, popular approaches togleaning are about recognizing and celebrating the good ideas and</p><p>tactics of others, and incorporating new skills into your own practice.Gleaning grows out of a willingness to become an active and</p><p>interested sponge, and involves four elements: observation,documentation, integration, and acknowledgement. As you observe</p><p>teaching, and presenting, and learning objects, you can consciously</p><p>document how the strategies they use might support your own style.Integration should not be confused with appropriation; if you ask a</p><p>coworker for an old handout or lesson plan, dont simply copy theirapproach to make your life easier (which is little better than</p><p>opportunistic). Instead, consider their angle, recognize the work theyhave already put in, and supplement it with your own ideas.</p><p>Acknowledging the contributions of others, whether through a citationor a word of gratitude, is essential.</p><p>A gleaning mentality encourages an attitude of constantcuriosity, one of the surest ways to build instructional literacy in a</p><p>continuous fashion. Becoming a diligent observer helps you perceiveareas of mutual interest or resources inside and outside of your</p><p>organization, such as a codeveloped workshop, site, or another type ofshared effort. Being open to learning and incorporating as I go,</p><p>unexpectedly, from anyone or in any situation, keeps me engaged and</p><p>humble in the knowledge that I always have more to learn. In thisway, gleaning gives even the most mundane forms of instructionalcollaboration more impact and encourages you to build productiveconnections that make your organizations overall educational profile</p><p>stronger and more diverse.</p><p>DOCUMENTATION</p><p>An aspect of gleaning that deserves additional consideration isdocumentation. When you hear about a useful e-learning application or</p><p>in-class exercise, be prepared to write it down, send yourself an e-mail, create a bookmark in Delicious or Zoterowhatever it takes to</p><p>keep the moment from passing. You should always give yourself themeans to keep track of the useful things you run across in order to</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 Learning From / With Others</p><p> 4/15</p><p>follow up on them after the fact. Effective documentation becomes</p><p>increasingly possible as cloud and mobile technologies provideinnovative multimodal methods for serendipitous information</p><p>gathering. I used to always carry a Moleskine notebook and a pen, butI now use my magic phone to help me capture things I think useful</p><p>via photo, voice, or notation - I snapped the cover photo for this book,for instance, while visiting the Chapel of the Chimes, a Bay Area</p><p>architectural landmark.I started consciously documenting my environment because my</p><p>memory is dismal, but I quickly realized that keeping a running list ofinspirations was an excellent means of bringing greater diversity into</p><p>my instructional practice. I have also learned that the best insightsoccur when you least expect, and often come in the form of absurdly</p><p>simple solutions to lingering challenges. For example, listening toNPRs Talk of the Nation at the gym one day, I heard Princeton</p><p>neuroscientist Sam Wang discussing intensity in speech and how this</p><p>affects listener memory. Knowing that this could help me make mypoint about infectious enthusiasm in chapter 1, but also that I would</p><p>forget his name and everything he had said within ten minutes, Istopped what I was doing and typed a few bits of information on the</p><p>running page of book ideas on my iPhone Notes application (figure3.1).</p><p>Ideas come and go, but I have become much more productive atbenefiting from them through reliable documentation. Microblogging</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 Learning From / With Others</p><p> 5/15</p><p>services like Twitter and FriendFeed are perfect manifestations of this</p><p>just-in-time principle; when you get in the rhythm of setting statusupdates and tweeting when things come to your attention,</p><p>documentation has already become second nature. Disclaimer: makesure your gleaning methods are reliable and backed up. Not long after</p><p>taking the screenshot in figure 3.1, I accidentally put my phonethrough an entire washer and dryer cycle, an experience from which it</p><p>never recovered. Needless to say, I was knocking wood that I hadsynced my information to my laptop not two days before.</p><p>GOOD ADVICEIn the introduction, I reported findings from survey research I</p><p>conducted among teaching librarians. There is considerable value inexploring the advice of other instructors, so one of the open-ended</p><p>items on this survey asked, If you could offer one piece ofadvice tonew instruction librarians, what would it be? Respondents consistently</p><p>underscored the importance of forming personal connections with</p><p>colleagues that involved experiential learning, whether throughmentorship, observation, or collaborative teaching (view responses to</p><p>the survey questions in appendix). Out of the hundreds of thoughtfulreplies I received, here are a few that represent these trends:</p><p>MentorshipGet a mentor!The best waywithout experienceyou will learn is by example. Find a</p><p>mentor that will let you sit in their classes.</p><p>Get mentors. Plural.</p><p>Observation</p><p>Observe. Observe. Observe. Watch as many different people teach as youcan. Youll learn just as much from the people that are not great at it as from</p><p>one the ones that are.</p><p>Be a sponge, observe and take in every teaching style you can, learn somestyles are better for certain situations, dont be afraid to mix and match stylesand experiment.</p><p>Find out who among your new colleagues has a reputation for being good atinstruction, and observe several of their sessions.</p><p>CollaborationAsk other librarians and teachers what they do. Observe others while theyreteaching. Be reflective about what you do in the classroom and make notes</p><p>after each class about what worked and what didnt. Communicate with</p><p>instructors whose classes youre teaching and ask them what they feel theirstudents need to know.Find training opportunities outside of libraries. Take classes within EducationDepartments, collaborate with peer educators in high schools and colleges, sit</p><p>in on classes to observe a veteran teacher in action.</p><p>Take the time to observe other librarians teach and participate in team-teaching, at least the first couple of times so you become more comfortablewith and understanding of your role as an instructor and the goals/protocol of</p><p>your institution.</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 Learning From / With Others</p><p> 6/15</p><p>BUILDING COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE</p><p>The comments above underscore a basic principle of moderneducational theory: humans are social learners.2In teacher education,</p><p>one can build on this principle by encouraging peer-supported learningwithin organizations or professional groups in intentional communities</p><p>of practice (also known as learning communities).3 Programmatic orinformal learning communities provide the structure and motivation for</p><p>continuing education, and are a means of identifying collaborativepartners with whom you can share materials, feedback, and support.For new instructors or those acquiring unfamiliar technological skills,communities of practice become a practical example ofscaffolding</p><p>learning support in circumstances where knowledge is difficult toacquire independently.4 In addition to providing gleaning material,</p><p>insight into the teaching practices of your colleagues can catalyzeshared initiatives, reduce duplication of effort, and build the collegiality</p><p>necessary to maintain productive teaching and working relationships.</p><p>An important caveat: Just as we are social learners by nature,we are also various shades of socially awkward or inept. Communities</p><p>of practice in instructional development can be as fraught as any othertype of community; not everyone in a given learning group will be</p><p>objective or interested in participating, and as I noted in the previouschapter it is easy to develop a negative self-concept from the wrong</p><p>type of feedback. Part of belonging to a community of practice isconsidering the depth to which you want to engage with it and/or try</p><p>to draw out its other members. There are many approaches to peerobservation, some more intense than others. You might invite a</p><p>trusted coworker to watch a face-to-face session and provide feedbacklimited to a specific area such as delivery pacing, or ask them to focus</p><p>on learners and how they seem to react to instruction. Its nervewracking to invite commentary, but it always serves you well in the</p><p>end (either by helping you address an issue or revealing who notto</p><p>ask next time). If you receive harsh or unhelpful feedback, consoleyourself with the knowledge that it likely was either offeredunintentionally or as a benign manifestation of why didnt I think ofthat?syndrome.</p><p>SEEKING RESOURCESFrom finding one person who gives you solid feedback to creating a</p><p>programmatic instructor development initiative in your workplace (orboth), the goal of a community of practice is to find individuals with</p><p>whom you can connect productively around issues of pedagogy andpraxis. Most of us already belong to several learning communities</p><p>through social networks, professional organizations, or localcommittees/task forces. It is important to determine what a positive</p></li><li><p>8/6/2019 Learning From / With Others</p><p> 7/15</p><p>and scalable learning community looks like for you, but sorting</p><p>through the many options can become overwhelming. In theremainder of this chapter I explore different approaches to learning</p><p>with/from other library educators. These lists are not comprehensive,but are meant to provide a foundation for continued exploration.</p><p>Online Learning CommunitiesAs the capacity to support rich communication experiences online</p><p>continues to expand, many digital forums have developed that providelibrary educators and designers with the means to interface with like-</p><p>minded colleagues. Using a combination of tools such as webcasting,blogging, tagging, chat, and threaded discussion to create hybridized</p><p>or all-online learning environments, these sites allow users to createpersonal profiles, access resources and programs, and network with</p><p>professionals who share similar interests.5Learning Times Library Online Conference (LTLOC,</p><p>http://www.learningtimes.net/library). Steven Bell and Jon Shanks</p><p>Blended Librarians Online learning communitywas the precursor to theLTLOC, a venue for academic librarians to collaborate and share</p><p>instructional design challenges and strategies through onlineconversations and forums. In the LTLOC, Bell, Shank, and othersdeliver regular webcasts on topics of interest to librarians andinstructional designers. Its host site,www.learningtimes.org, is an</p><p>open-access collection of online learning communities oriented towarda diverse range of instructors and educators. It emphasizes networking</p><p>and communication and offers a range of initiatives such as webcasts,</p><p>interviews, case studies, market analysis, and discussions.ALA Connect(connect.ala.org).The American Library</p><p>Associations virtual, collaborative workspace online provides web-</p><p>based learning communities and interest groups focused on instructionand all other interest areas related to library education. The Drupal-</p><p>based brainchild ofShifted Librarian Jenny Levine, Connectis an</p><p>aspect of the organizations ongoing effort to move toward virtualizedparticipation. It provides ALA members from every section, committee,</p><p>interest group, and task force with a framework for collaboration andcommunication and features a mentorship platform that encourages</p><p>the exploration of working/learning relationships in particular areas.Among the many ALA areas related to library education are the ACRL</p><p>Instruction Section, the Library Instruction Round Table, and theLearning Round Table.</p><p>Ning(www.ning.com). Ning is less formalized online space thanthe previous two examples, because it is a site that provides users</p><p>with a means of defining their own social and learning communities.Several library-related Ning spaces are available. Although less</p>http://www.learningtimes.net/libraryhttp://www....</li></ul>