Sunday, June 21, 2015

Crowdsourcing Great Teaching @ the NW Great Teaching Seminar

I attended the NW Great Teaching Seminar this week and it was life changing. This seminar is part of the National Great Teachers Seminar Series. It lasted five days and was held at the amazingly serene and picturesque Menucha retreat in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge.  There were over 30 other seminar participants!

Scenic views were readily available
All attendees teach at community colleges, but come from various disciplines. Based on the premise that the real experts on teaching are those who teach, the seminar was led by five amazing individuals: Linda Gerber, Phil Corliss, April Fong, Doug Dickson and Jan Woodcock. Following a "flexibly rigid" format, meals were held at 8 am, 12 and 6 pm daily; the rest of the schedule revolved around these times.

Jan Woodcock
Humor, experience, practical knowledge, active engagement, integrated learning and game-centered teaching made this seminar a life-changing experience for me.

Mingling of ideas
The format also included each of us writing an Innovation paper (first day activities) -- a one-page paper outlining a successful teaching innovation the teacher has implemented and a Problem paper (second day activities) -- describing an ongoing issue the teacher experiences.

Exchanging these writings, we broke up into smaller groups and discussed the innovations and problems, using a Socratic questioning method designed to help the individual sort it out on their own. These papers create a great pool of knowledge, solutions and inspiration.


Emerging themes (throughout the rest of the seminar) -- themes that arose the first two days as we went over the Innovation and Problem papers.

And finally:

Large group discussions: giving teachers a chance to obtain crowd-sourced answers to questions.

Large group discussion
I learned something, literally every two minutes, i.e., teaching students to nod their heads, maintaining student boundaries when it comes to classwork and the importance of trying new things and not being afraid to change it up. Many common solutions, tips, and other techniques carried over from one discipline to the next.
Outdoor discussion in perfect weather
I was struck by the common love and passion for teaching and helping others held by the entire cohort. It was a positive, supportive, and stretching event for all involved.
Opportunities for exchange abounded

Learning opportunities also consisted of small and large group communication and crowd-sourcing answers, games, interpretive dance along with time for recreation and building rapport. Recreation included hikes at Multnomah Falls and surrounding area, bike riding, reading and writing, etc. The meals were fabulous. All in all, this was one of the best learning experiences I have ever had. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, which in turn, created fallow ground for greater learning.

I highly recommend this seminar for educators. The Great Teacher Seminars are available throughout the country. 

Class of 2015

From the GTM website:

“The National Great Teachers Movement is called a ‘movement’ because it is not associated with, nor does it constitute a corporation or an organization of any kind. Thus, it serves no institutional or commercial interests. There is no headquarters or address, and there are no officials, owners, employees or politics. There are no manuals or handbooks, only a few simple guidelines [Editor’s Note: This web connection created by Steve Smith after the 2nd GT colloquium in 2001].

Everything is passed on by oral tradition in order to prevent the development of any form of true believership or fixed procedure, which might come to be followed to the letter and of which the educational profession would soon tire. The many annual Great Teachers Seminars throughout North America, and now in several foreign countries, exist and persist only because of the initiative and selfless ambition of people who want to share the experience with teachers in their own geographic area.”

Saturday, June 13, 2015

An Introduction to Library Technical Services

An introduction to Library Technical Services slideshow that went with a job interview teaching session I had to give.

It was for a basic introduction to library services class.   The scenario was that we had already covered circulation.

The presentation was very short--like 20 mins.

 Here is a link to the notes for this session:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

It isn't just getting people the MLS, or MLIS

It isn't just getting people the MLS, or MLIS.  I've had mine since 2009 and it hasn't done me much good.  Libraries, the ALA and Education is not really interested in equity, inclusion or diversity,  If they were, then they would put their money where there mouths are and make it a priority.  I have been working in libraries since 1987 and personally have not seen a change in representation.  I also have numbers that prove the field has become less diverse.  

I think working together is the way to go, but I also think acknowledging "whiteness" and the privileges that go with it is an important step toward working together.  I'm not even White and I benefit from these privileges because of my lighter skin. I know I have more opportunities (generally) than my darker brothers and sisters. And god forbid they have an accent.  It isn't that hard to acknowledge the privilege--yet people constantly fight this acknowledgement.  

We all benefit from the slavery, land-theft and genocide that occured and continues to occur in the Americas.  Even the poorest people in our culture have a higher standard of living because of the slavery, land-theft and genocide that has happened and is still ongoing.  It isn't hard to see this and acknowledgement is the answer.  Nobody wants anybody to feel bad, but we want acknowledgement.  I liken it to an alcoholic who is in deep denial.  Things won't ever get better until one can acknowledge one has a problem.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Free Speech Should be for Librarians Too

Librarians and Self-censorship
Free Speech Mural
Free speech for librarians comes with unspoken conditions

I encounter many (often young) librarians in real life and online.  One of the most frequent things people tell me is, "How come you are so free with your speech?  I could never talk about those things--I would get fired." or more often, "...I would never land a job!"  

It is striking that librarians consider themselves defenders of free speech and intellectual freedom, but that the above sentiment is held by so many librarians.  

Why are librarians scared to speak about important issues?

I understand about library constituencies, but I'm not talking about library directors here--I'm speaking about regular librarians, or librarians searching for a job.

Last month, I had a session at the Oregon Library Association Conference.  My session was on cannabis resources for librarians.  The session consisted of a panel.  I had invited another knowledgeable librarian to be on the panel.  However, the librarian's director told them that they could not be part of the session.  I found this interesting--especially since the state of Oregon has legalized cannabis for recreational and medical consumption.

Censored and Self-censored 

Anyway, the fact the librarians are scared to speak about certain issues, or to let their staff speak about certain issues because if might offend their constituencies is incredibly offensive to the notion of free speech AND intellectual freedom.  It would be wiser to create a campaign on intellectual freedom and free speech than to censor librarians, or to self-censor--which is the most usual case.  

Librarians should never be scared to talk about issues.  We should never be wary of pointing users to legitimate information sources, not matter what the subject and we should never self-censor.

It is chilling to me to hear so many people who are fearful of speaking out, speaking up or bringing up topics that might make others feel uncomfortable.  One of the main issues with our country is that it avoids issues that are uncomfortable.  This leads to anger, violence and other social issues.  

As librarians, we should feel free to speak our minds, be ready to defend our free speech rights and use, be ready to defend free speech for others and access to information that some may feel should be restricted.  

I have suffered the ramifications of free speech.  In fact, one of the heads of an academic diversity in libraries program recently told me to,  "Never contact me again.  Your rhetoric is weak, and your arguments are unconvincing."

If he doesn't like my arguments, then attack the arguments--don't cut me off from you and your program.  

When things like this happen, and even worse--when they happen in public, these ramifications serve as a model of punishment.  This model informs others of what can happen to them if they speak out, or don't reinforce the status quo.

If we self-censor, how can we ever hope to achieve promote free access to materials, and the free speech of ourselves and others?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

LSTA Advisory Councils and more...

I hope your Spring is springing.

I wanted to ask you all to consider volunteering to be on your state's LSTA Grant advisory boards.

I am currently the chair of the Oregon LSTA Advisory council.

My place on the council give me a voice that I can use to represent others who are not at the table.

There have been many times already where I was able to make an argument that would have not been made (concerning Latino issues) if I had not been there.

If we take our places on these and other committees that have a say in where money goes, then more Latino programming may get funded.

At the very least, we can represent where we are not represented already.

We can create change, we can lead from anywhere we are and we can help one another be strong.


How to solve the illegal immigration problem