CILIP’s Information Literacy group celebrated attracting 1000 members by offering the chance to study for an entry level teaching qualification. I read this announcement on my late night in the Library and deciding it was an opportunity not to be missed, fired-off an application. A few weeks later I was delighted to find out that I’d been successful. Like many of you I studied cataloguing and database design at library school but now what do I find myself doing most of the time? Teaching. When I think about my job as a whole this is probably the part that gives me the most satisfaction because of the interaction and feedback and the feeling that I’m helping students to achieve their goals. However there is also a big negative surrounding this area for me because I know that I’m not engaging every person in the room. Some of the things I teach are beginning to feel stale and repetitive and physically I feel very tired and vocally strained after a session. What I want to achieve is a memorable session taking place in a room where students are involved in the discussion and it’s not just my voice dominating the proceedings. But up to this point I really didn’t know how to reach this Shangri-La. The week long course at the Northern College near Barnsley was hard work, challenging and at times emotional. The impact may have been increased because it was residential so we all felt immersed in the experience. However the most successful aspect for me was doing the course with other librarians. It gave me a completely different perspective on the way I’d been teaching as well as valuable insight into other types of service. Oh yes and loads of examples of good practice that I’ll be “borrowing”. The hard work isn’t over yet as there are three assignments still to complete but I do feel immensely hopeful about my future teaching practice. The turning point came for me after completing what the College calls a “big teach”. In my case this was a 30 minute session on plagiarism; probably one of the driest strands of research skills teaching and a problematic area. I would normally approach this as a lecture with minimal feedback from students but decided, in this safe environment, to try something that was completely different for me. I used case studies and an activity that Geoff Petty (http://geoffpetty.com/) calls “Spectacles” where groups consider something from a different point of view. The end result was a session that felt far more memorable and interesting for the students – and for me too! I’m very grateful to our knowledgeable and generous tutor Jill Wilkens and to my fellow librarians for their support and feedback. Also a big “thank you” to the Information Literacy Group for making this happen. If the ILG ever offer this opportunity again – apply – you won’t regret it!
Anne-Mary Inglehearn, Leeds College of Building