Taking a quick breather before we're back into the rush. We hope you're warm... where ever you are!
This is for the MSU Students out there... but faculty and staff? You can get in on this too!
First things first: If you are going away for Spring Break to some amazing place (Cabo? Okemos?), please be safe.
Now, onto business. You may not have anything do immediately after spring break but you know that final assignment is looming. Should you find yourself with an internet connection and some spare time for work, you can get research assistance with a honest to goodness librarian.
See, our librarians here at MSU are part of a 24/7 co-op of librarians, available to you 24/7 via chat.
Cabo? Okemos? Satellite internet from Antarctica? We're here to help.
When I think about self-reflection, and the power and importance it has had in my life, and in my career as a teacher, my thoughts often trail back to a quote I once heard or read from Carl Sandburg, ““It is necessary ... for a man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, 'Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?”
While I don’t believe that you have to go sit on a rock by yourself, or put yourself in Thoreau-like isolation, to engage in reflection, I do think that taking the time to sit quietly, or take a walk, and think about who you are as a teacher (or person), where you’ve been in your career (or life), and where you are going in your career (or life), can be incredibly helpful. I’ve never been a person who kept a journal, or who’s written much outside of school, but as a new teacher I was encouraged to use reflection as a tool for improving in my work, and once I began, I was hooked. It was a great way for me to think and critically reflect on a teaching and learning and I used it to fuel my improvement as a teacher. Immersing myself in the world of reflection also allowed me to discover some new teaching and learning heroes like Stephen Brookfield and Parker Palmer who have stayed with me from my former life as an elementary school teacher to my current life as an Information Literacy Librarian.
One easy way begin reflecting on your teaching (or life) is to use a reflection prompt as a jumping off point. Below, I’ve given some examples of prompts you could use to reflect after you’ve taught a lesson, class, course, etc. as well as some other more general prompts that could be used any time.
Prompts for after some kind of instruction:
1. Was this activity/lesson/class successful….why or why not?
2. If I do it again, what could I do differently to help students learn more?
3. Did this activity help students learn more than others I’ve done? Why?
4. What evidence do I have my students are learning?
5. When did you feel most engaged with your class/students?
6. At what moment in class were you most distanced from what was happening?
7. What actions by either a teacher or student have been the most affirming or helpful?
8. What actions by either a teacher or student have been the most puzzling or confusing?
9. What about the class/lesson/activity surprised you the most? (This could be about your own reactions to what went on, something that someone said, or anything else that occurred).
1. What have you recently learned about yourself as a teacher?
2. What are your greatest strength(s) as a teacher? (list specific examples)
3. In what areas can I still improve professionally? (list specific examples)
4. How can you best use your strengths as a teacher to maximize the positive impact you have on student learning?
5. Why do you teach the way you do?
6. What should students expect of you as a teacher?
7. How has your thinking about teaching changed over time? Why?
8. What has caused you the most stress this year?
9. What were your biggest organizational challenges this year?
Number 6. That was the killer question.
6. What should students expect of you as a teacher?
I had agreed as part of becoming a better teacher, to take the time to reflect. Every week, I would sit down and think, write, and, well... reflect. My Outlook calendar? It has one half hour of reflection on the schedule every week!
I actually thought I was doing ok. Every week, since the start of the semester, I have taken time to write based off some reflection prompts my colleague Ben shared. (More on those prompts coming soon!) I was skipping around the list of questions and decided to try number 6, "What should students expect of you as a teacher?"
I'm totally stymied. What expectations do they have now? I can guess that maybe they're thinking, "Library? Boring." Or maybe it's, "Library? I heard this before." Or, "Library? What's in it for me?" Maybe when they see a librarian the same age as some of their parents, they think, "Irrelevant." I never asked them... although now I'm curious to know. Heck, is this the same as asking what I can give to my students?
So, question number 6, you win! I give up! What should students expect of me as a teacher?
From information literacy librarian Carol Lunce-
The Learning Space Rating System (LSRS) uses a rating system to evaluate learning spaces (think classrooms) based on space between adult learners, optimal learning environments, etc. This webinar primarily discusses how to determine existing optimal learning environments so faculty and staff can utilize in the best way possible. The second step after utilizing the rating system is to get university/college buy-in to plan future learning spaces that are very flexible. The importance of such a rating system combines planning institution wide, an awareness of learning needs and what cultivates creative learning and yet plans flexibility into architecture or space use. This flexibility creates areas that can be used for solitary, small or large group learning or collaboration.
EDUCAUSE conducted a webinar on the beta version of a LSRS. Contributors/creators of the rating system include: Malcolm Brown, Ph.D. Director, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative; Elliot Felix, Director, Brightspot Strategy LLC; Carol Meyers, Ph.D., Project Director, Research Information Services
During the webinar, contributors added resources that would be helpful in determining how to understand and create effective learning spaces. There were several websites listed in the webinar:
Learning Spaces Toolkit- http://learningspacetoolkit.org/
FLEXspace (Flexible Learning Environments Exchange) - https://sites.google.com/site/flexspacedev/
Space Browser from University of Minnesota- http://www.classroom.umn.edu/studySpace/McNealHall.html
MSU Libraries has a book on Learning Spaces entitled: Learning spaces: creating opportunities for knowledge creation in academic life / Maggi Savin-Baden. Maidenhead, England; New York: McGraw Hill/Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press, 2008. Call # LB2322.2 .S28 2008
The moderators began the webinar by quoting Peter Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” They gave examples of ratings such as Moody’s, Amazon customer reviews, Olympic medals, Boy Scouts of America and others who have established criteria for excellence in order to receive an award. The moderators discussed how all ratings have criteria and gave examples such as Green Star (Indoor Environmental Quality). The goals and aspirations of an LSRS are to be SMART:
The rationale for planning learning spaces is to:
• Enable richer interaction
• Measure potential to support active learning
• A framework of criteria for best practice
• Enhance support and evaluation systems
• A system that continues to improve with community input
Main components of LSRS structure are:
• Integration with campus context
• Planning and design process
• Support and operations
• Environmental quality
• Layout and furnishings
• Technology and tools
The intent of a LSRS is to provide users with a system that enables them to match their teaching and learning needs with learning space availability and capabilities. An example of getting points is whether an institution has and maintains a class scheduling software/database, which includes information on space attributes such as total area, area per station/seat, flexibility of furnishings, potential configurations, available technologies, and equipment capabilities. This database would credit the institution with one point.
Why use An LSRS?
The Learning space rating system provides a way to rate your portfolio of formal learning spaces (or a sampling of them) to understand their relative and absolute performance, see how institutions compare to others, identify low and high performers (classrooms) so can make changes in future; provides an objective third-party standard to leaders and funders about the need to improve learning spaces; a rating system can help get institution started by seeing how they fit with rating system points; and creators of system want libraries and institutions to use this rating system and give feedback.
For further information, see the following links to the project at http://www.educause.edu/visuals/shared/eli/programs/LSRS_betav3_September2013.pdf.
-Thank you, Carol, for this informative report!
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