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  1. 1. Statement of Teaching Philosophy "Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it” - Samuel Johnson “The secret of education lies in respecting the student” - Ralph Waldo Emerson Today, we live in the era of information, to be more exact – we live in the era ofinformation abundance and overload. Welcome to the real world! Each day we fight ourway through a massive storm of information that comes from different sources: books,journals, movies, newspapers, radio, television, emails and, last but absolutely NOT least,the Internet - the monstrous information producer. This information overload affectsevery aspect of our lives: whether we are at home, at work or in school. How do we sortand evaluate these loads of information? Is it possible for our students to retain all theinformation that comes their way during their years in school? The new era dictates newrules. Back in April of 1775 Samuel Johnson said, “Knowledge is of two kinds: we know asubject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it.” Today this statement reflects our reality as powerfully as never before. If yesterday“to know” meant “to possess” the information, in today’s world it is accurate to state that“to know” means “to have access” to the information. Simply because it is unmanageablefor our minds to absorb and retain all the information that we listen to, read or watch. Itis time to realize that becoming successful in the information age we live in now startswith becoming an information literate individual, and that means to become skilled infinding, accessing and using information. To prepare future doctors, lawyers, educators,administrators, researchers and scientists, academic institutions must teach their studentsthe skills that promote critical thinking and life-long learning. And this is where academiclibrarians and teaching faculty come together as the key players in guiding the students tothe path of becoming information literate critical thinkers and life-long learners.How I See Myself, My Goals and Objectives as an Educator What does the word “academic librarian” mean to me? I see academic librarian firstand foremost as an educator. A good academic librarian is a student-centered educatorwith excellent customer service and communication skills that enable him or her to workwith students and faculty one-on-one or in classrooms. Academic librarians are servant-leaders who “want to serve and serve first” and who “make sure that other people’shighest priority needs are being served” (Robert Greenleaf). This vision of an academiclibrarian is a role model that I follow in my everyday work. 1
  2. 2. Academic librarians are instructors by profession. Academic librarians who providereference, research and instruction services participate directly in the educational process,not only support this process as it is very often stated in the mission of an academiclibrary. As a reference and instruction librarian, I not only provide the students and otherlibrary users with an answer, but also I teach them to find it. I teach them the skills tofind, access, evaluate and use information they need for their educational or personalpurposes. The skills that are proven to be indispensable in becoming a successfulprofessional in every field. Needless to say that I want my students to learn the content of my instructionsessions or my course, and most importantly I want them to utilize the knowledge theylearned from me in future. But beyond that, my goal is to nurture critical thinking,facilitate the acquisition of life-long learning skills and to prepare students to functionsuccessfully and efficiently in an information society. I strive to ensure that my students,after they graduate, are capable of independently finding, accessing, evaluating and usinginformation for their future needs without relying on intermediaries.What I Do in My Classroom… My job, as an instructor, is to create an atmosphere that fosters learning in myclassroom and beyond it.Where do I start? I start with respecting my students and creating the atmosphere of respect andfairness in my classroom. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The secret of education lies in respecting thestudent.” I strongly agree with him, and this statement represents the guiding principle ofmy teaching philosophy, of my teaching approach. In my classroom I am always “with”my students, not “above” them. The nature of my work requires an open mind, sensitivityto the thoughts and ideas of others. I work with students from different social and culturalbackgrounds and take this fact always into consideration. To build a sound productivediscussion with the students, I show respect to their opinions and stay open-minded bycreating and maintaining the atmosphere of intellectual freedom. I not only encouragetheir openness to the material I am presenting, but also inspire my students to respectone another in the classroom and beyond it.How Do I Teach? First of all, I am very passionate about the subject that I am teaching. I show mypassion, energy and enthusiasm to the students, and by doing this I try to share thispassion with them. I believe that this is one of the best ways to foster learning. From myteaching experience I know that if the instructor does not show interest and enthusiasm inthe subject that is being presented and a passion for this subject, students are less likelyto put any effort to learn in that class. In other words, to start the flame of interest to 2
  3. 3. learn in my students, I need to have this flame burning in myself all the time. I show lovefor my profession. It pays. I energize my students. I also engage them, which is fundamental to keep thestudents motivated. Active learning is the key ingredient for engagement and motivation.Active learning and student-centered learning are the two major approaches that I utilizein my instructional work. I see my teaching role more as a facilitator rather than alecturer. Nevertheless, even when it comes to a traditional lecture, which is sometimesthe case with a library instruction (specifically with a basic library-resources-overviewtype), I try to modify it so that the students get engaged and stay active during thelecture, which in the end turns into an interactive discussion. Questions-answers technics,playing and discussing a brief video, incorporating brief demonstrations followed by briefsearch exercises are some of the strategies that I utilize on a regular basis during myinstructions. As for questions-answers methods, Cephalonian method of library instructionis one of the best and easy ways to get students engaged. I am a big fan of this method.It becomes very handy when I need to cover a lot of material and fit it within a 30-50minute session, which pretty much leads to a teacher-centered lecture type of instruction.Cephalonian method helps me keep the students engaged, active and attentive. Inaddition, I utilize regularly group-work activities in my library instructions, especiallyduring the course-integrated assignment related types of instructions. I do believe inlearning by social interaction, and I am a strong advocate of this pedagogical method.L.S.Vygotsky once stated that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process ofcognitive development. Learning is a social process, and students should communicatewith one another and share what they already know or expect to know. Technology is an effective pedagogical tool in my classroom. I recognize the needfor technology, and how it can empower the learning process. Technology has nowbecome an integral part of active learning, which I am a big supporter of. I utilize moderntechnology tools in my classroom. Wireless Internet connection across the campus, fullyequipped classrooms make it possible. For example, when I teach students searchstrategies of a specific database, I ask them to bring their laptops to the class. I alwaysuse an overhead projector, which allows me to search the database together with thestudents. I can also show them a brief video about the database. They work on searchexercises individually or in groups. Technology gives me the opportunity to teach not onlyin the class setting, but also in the online environment. I like merging these two teachingenvironments. When I teach a full credit course, I tailor the course in a way that the classactivities take place in the classroom and on Blackboard. When I teach one-session libraryinstruction, my goal is to stay with the class at least in the online environment and helpthe students with their research needs. There is an opportunity for this. Course management systems, such as Backboard, have a great level of potentialfor librarians’ instructional or course support role. Academic libraries can integrate theirservices into a course via their institution’s course management system, and stay closerto the students even in the virtual environment. The practice of embedding libraryservices into, i.e. Blackboard, represents a breakthrough initiative in providing studentcentered learning and is now supported by many academic institutions. 3
  4. 4. I advocate and promote… I advocate and promote various innovative methods that involve collaboration withfaculty in teaching information literacy skills to students. One of these methods is, as Imentioned above, integration of library services or librarians into the course managementsystems. Embedded library services in the course management systems are becoming anintegral part of the student centered approach in providing library services, such as libraryinstructions, reference and course content support (electronic reserves). The review of thecurrent literature has revealed that the most compelling arguments for academic librariesto embed library services in the course management systems, such as i.e. Blackboard,reside in its familiarity to faculty and students, its convenience to use and access and itspotential for “one-stop shopping” (Cubbage 24). Moreover, some of the most recent studies on the students’ information behaviorand information search have shown that today’s students want to search a single, unifiedplace to find the information they need. For their courses it is their course managementsystem (Peterson 6). “I hate it when an instructor uses their own course website instead of WebCT. It is much easier to just go to one place to check into all of your classes” (OIT’s Net Generation Of Students at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Survey 2007 1- cited in Peterson) I strongly believe that the integration of library services and/or a librarian into aBlackboard course will expose students to and get them acquainted with professionalliterature in their field sooner and will add to their successful completion of the course. Itwill also contribute to modeling students’ research behavior and overall improve theirinformation literacy skills. It will also allow the library to become an integral part of thecourse and of the educational process, as it definitely should be. I have experience in serving as a course embedded librarian. This innovativeteaching initiative requires close collaboration with the course instructor so that thecontent that will be taught by the librarian integrates efficiently into the course.How I Improve… I strive for excellence and good quality in everything that I do. Making myinstructions more efficient is not possible without knowing what the students and facultythink about the instructions. For this reason, collecting feedback from students and facultyabout the instructional services that I offer is essential part of my work. I usuallydistribute short evaluation forms to the students in the end of my instructions. I alsocontact faculty (in-person or by email) to ask them for their comments. I have receivedcompliments, constructive criticism and useful suggestions, which, no doubt, helps me inimproving my instructions, their content and format. 4
  5. 5. I also improve my skills by learning. Denis Diderot said, “People stop thinking whenthey stop reading.” I would like to add “when they also stop learning.” I like learningabout new things: new trends and technology in my profession. To be able to serveefficiently to library users, I need to be current with my field. I completed my Master’sdegree several years ago, but I have never stopped reading and learning. Learningprocess for me is improving myself professionally. I am a life-long learner, and my goal isto teach my students the important concept that learning is a process that never ends. Aslong as you live you learn, as long as you learn you live. That is the key to success. Works citedCubbage, Charlotte. "Electronic Reserves and Blackboards Course Management System." Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Information Supply 13.4 (2003): 21- 32. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. EBSCO. Web. 14 Jan. 2011.Greenleaf, Robert. “The Servant as Leader.” Robert K. Greenleaf Center: 1982.Peterson, Kate et al. “Course Integration Exploratory Subgroup: Final Report and Recommendations to the Web Services Steering Committee.” DigitalConservancy. University…….of.Minnessota. Library Reports. Web. 14 Jan. 2011. 5