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How do academic librarians' identity and experiences shape their teaching practices? - Houtman

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How do academic librarians' identity and experiences shape their teaching practices? - Houtman

  1. 1. How would you answer this interview question? (Don’t worry, you won’t have to share your answer) How does you personal identity, who you are as a person, affect how you approach or think about your teaching? [follow-up if necessary:] How do you bring yourself into your teaching? If I did ask you to share, what would you feel comfortable talking about? What would you keep to yourself?
  2. 2. Eveline Houtman Library Instruction Coordinator User Services, Robarts Library April 26, 2019 How do academic librarians’ identity and experiences shape their teaching practices ? A qualitative study How do academic librarians’ identities and experiences shape their teaching practices ? A qualitative study
  3. 3. What shapes academic librarians’ teaching practices? From the conference abstract: Within librarianship, there is a proliferation of courses, workshops, webinars, conferences, local professional development initiatives, and literature aimed at teaching librarians how to teach - or teach better. This begs the question: what, out of all of this, actually matters for librarians' learning? What actually shapes their teaching practices?
  4. 4. What shapes academic librarians’ teaching practices? Contexts Culture e.g. teaching culture; professional culture Structure e.g. faculty structures; curriculum; one-shots Self Identities (personal and professional), personality, attitudes, beliefs, what people care about and value, experiences
  5. 5. “The self that teaches” • The question we most commonly ask is the “what” question— what subjects shall we teach? • When the conversation goes a bit deeper, we ask the “how” question—what methods and techniques are required to teach well? • Occasionally, when it goes deeper still, we ask the “why” question—for what purpose and to what ends do we teach? • But seldom, if ever, do we ask the “who” question—who is the self that teaches? How does the quality of my selfhood form—or deform—the way I relate to my students, my subject, my colleagues, my world? Parker Palmer (2008), The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life, p. 4.
  6. 6. Does the “who” question matter? More Parker Palmer: We teach who we are. (p. 1) Technique is what teachers use until the real teacher arrives. (p. 6) No matter how technical my subject may be, the things I teach are the things I care about – and what I care about helps define my selfhood. (p. 17)
  7. 7. Does the “who” question matter? More Parker Palmer: We teach who we are. (p. 1) Technique is what teachers use until the real teacher arrives. (p. 6) No matter how technical my subject may be, the things I teach are the things I care about – and what I care about helps define my selfhood. (p. 17) If identity and integrity are more fundamental to good teaching than technique – and if we want to grow as teachers – we must do something alien to academic culture: we must talk to each other about our inner lives – risky stuff in a profession that fears the personal and seeks safety in the technical, the distant, the abstract. (p. 12)
  8. 8. What about in the library instruction context? For me, I think [teaching] is really entwined with who you are. I mean, I know that you can teach without it being a part of your identity, but I think to be an effective teacher it has to have some kind of connection. I believe that you have to have a reason that you want to teach. And I think if you don’t care about students’ learning, then you’re not going to be a very effective teacher…. It’s harder for me to think of ways that I don’t [bring myself into the teaching]. Rachel, experienced librarian, Interview 1 (btw Parker Palmer is cited in the Association of College & Research Libraries’ (2017), Roles and strengths of teaching librarians.)
  9. 9. What I did in my research
  10. 10. Qualitative research towards a PhD in education Recruitment: “I’m looking to recruit academic teaching librarians from a variety of geographic locations and institution types from the United States and Canada. Please consider participating in my research if: • you feel instruction (in-person, online, blended) is an important part of your work; • you take a reflective approach to your teaching; • you like talking about your teaching practice!” 12 participants
  11. 11. Two interviews • Interview 1 – focused on the participants’ experiences and contexts – How does you personal identity, who you are as a person, affect how you approach or think about your teaching? How do you bring yourself into your teaching? • Interview 2 – focused on the participants’ teaching. – They were asked to come prepared to talk about a specific class they had taught. – They were also asked to take and talk about the Teaching Perspectives Inventory (http://www.teachingperspectives.com/tpi/) which posits five perspectives: transmission; apprenticeship; developmental; nurturing; social reform.
  12. 12. Hearing from my participants
  13. 13. As a group, very engaged with teaching When people ask what I do, I say I mostly teach. So yeah, that is a very important part of my job. Where I belong as far as in a position, it’s focused mostly on teaching. Rachel, experienced librarian, Interview 1 “[Teaching] is everything. It’s the bedrock of what I do.” Cameron, mid-career librarian, Interview 1
  14. 14. As a group, very engaged with teaching When people ask what I do, I say I mostly teach. So yeah, that is a very important part of my job. Where I belong as far as in a position, it’s focused mostly on teaching. Rachel, experienced librarian, Interview 1 “[Teaching] is everything. It’s the bedrock of what I do.” Cameron, mid-career librarian, Interview 1
  15. 15. Teaching contributed to their professional identity I do [identify as a teacher]. I think both equally as a librarian and a teacher. Rachel, experienced librarian, Interview 1 I was just interviewed by the local news for [something] that we did, and they called me a teaching librarian and I was delighted. Stephanie, new librarian, Interview 1 So [my mentor and I] have actually been talking about whether we are teachers or whether we are librarians. Lauren, new librarian, Interview 2 I’m not good at marketing myself, so I don’t go, “hey, see, I published [several things].” But I am respected. I feel like I have a different relationship with faculty because of my publications and because I have taught as an adjunct than I did before I did that stuff. Because that stuff makes me a little bit more like them. And so I noticed my conversations about teaching are very different than before. Meg, experienced librarian, Interview 1
  16. 16. Professional identity My professional identity is as an educator. [I’m in] an entry-level job that I'll be in my whole career. I don't have to supervise anybody, and that's important to me. But we want people who see themselves as educators. If I wasn't, I don't know what else I would be. Meg, experienced librarian, Interview 1 Meg also hoped to go up for full professor soon. All of my research and scholarship has to do with pedagogy and being a better teacher…. I’m not good at marketing myself, so I don’t go, “Hey, see, I published.” But I am respected. I feel like I have a different relationship with faculty because of my publications and because I have taught as an adjunct than I did before I did that stuff. Because that stuff makes me a little bit more like them. And so I noticed my conversations about teaching are very different than before.
  17. 17. Professional identity My professional identity is as an educator. [I’m in] an entry-level job that I'll be in my whole career. I don't have to supervise anybody, and that's important to me. But we want people who see themselves as educators. If I wasn't, I don't know what else I would be. Meg, experienced librarian, Interview 1 Meg also hoped to go up for full professor soon. All of my research and scholarship has to do with pedagogy and being a better teacher…. I’m not good at marketing myself, so I don’t go, “Hey, see, I published.” But I am respected. I feel like I have a different relationship with faculty because of my publications and because I have taught as an adjunct than I did before I did that stuff. Because that stuff makes me a little bit more like them. And so I noticed my conversations about teaching are very different than before.
  18. 18. Answering the interview question How does you personal identity, who you are as a person, affect how you approach or think about your teaching? [follow-up if necessary:] How do you bring yourself into your teaching?
  19. 19. Personality If you’re standing in front of a class, or even working with someone one-on-one, or informally at a reference desk, if you don’t have a personality, they don’t… There’s maybe a lack of respect or feeling like you’re an automaton. We’re in a very human profession, teaching, librarianship, being an educator, it’s all about humanism. I will make jokes about “oh, I’m wearing a cardigan and comfortable shoes,” you know, really bad librarian jokes, but I think that showing a sense of humour really helps. [Anecdote about connecting with a disengaged student.] And I think that was from being myself. A performative self, but still myself. Kate, mid-career librarian, Interview 1
  20. 20. When I first started teaching, I was definitely trying to be [my mentor]. She has a very… peppy is probably not the right word, but she has this presence. She’s a very tiny person, but she has a huge presence when she goes into the classroom. So the first few times, I realized that I was trying to mimic that, and it felt very unnatural. It didn’t resonate with the students…. I realized I did not have to be somebody I really wasn’t. Lauren, new librarian, Interview 1
  21. 21. I think how you engage with the class, your personality really has something to do with that. [In] Myers-Briggs I score fairly high on the extroversion scale. I enjoy relating to people. We’ve done the Strengths Finder thing too, part of that is having people like me. I’m also a Leo. And so I want to be a good teacher because I want people to like me and take my class…. Maybe it’s because I’m loud, I get my classes that way too. Vicki, experienced librarian, Interview 1 My teaching identity comes out of my desire to coach people, so my teaching identity is Coach [Cameron]. It’s a part of me. Cameron, mid-career librarian, Interview 1 I’m not a charismatic teacher; I’m not and never will be. I’m a reflective educator; I’m not a performer. Meg, experienced librarian, Interview 2
  22. 22. I think how you engage with the class, your personality really has something to do with that. [In] Myers-Briggs I score fairly high on the extroversion scale. I enjoy relating to people. We’ve done the Strengths Finder thing too, part of that is having people like me. I’m also a Leo. And so I want to be a good teacher because I want people to like me and take my class…. Maybe it’s because I’m loud, I get my classes that way too. Vicki, experienced librarian, Interview 1 My teaching identity comes out of my desire to coach people, so my teaching identity is Coach [Cameron]. It’s a part of me. Cameron, mid-career librarian, Interview 1 I’m not a charismatic teacher; I’m not and never will be. I’m a reflective educator; I’m not a performer. Meg, experienced librarian, Interview 2
  23. 23. I think how you engage with the class, your personality really has something to do with that. [In] Myers-Briggs I score fairly high on the extroversion scale. I enjoy relating to people. We’ve done the Strengths Finder thing too, part of that is having people like me. I’m also a Leo. And so I want to be a good teacher because I want people to like me and take my class…. Maybe it’s because I’m loud, I get my classes that way too. Vicki, experienced librarian, Interview 1 My teaching identity comes out of my desire to coach people, so my teaching identity is Coach [Cameron]. It’s a part of me. Cameron, mid-career librarian, Interview 1 I’m not a charismatic teacher; I’m not and never will be. I’m a reflective educator; I’m not a performer. Meg, experienced librarian, Interview 2
  24. 24. Looking at the literature
  25. 25. Personality in the LIS literature “Librarians are more apprehensive, cautious, flexible, focused, imaginative, open-minded, respectful, self-reliant, serious, tender-minded, and trusting as well as higher on general reasoning skills than those in the norm group.” Williamson & Lounsbury (2016), p. 124. Professional personas … "defined as the intersection of an individual's personality, competencies, and professional interests." Pressley, Dale, & Kellam (2014). At the corner of personality and competencies: Exploring professional personas for librarians, in The librarian stereotype: Deconstructing perceptions and presentations of information work p. 213.
  26. 26. Identity is … complicated • Identity is both personal and social • Identity is fluid • We all have a multiplicity of selves/multiple identities • We develop our sense of self within social contexts at all levels Vignoles, Schwartz, & Luyckx (2011).
  27. 27. Certain aspects of one’s identity will be more or less expressible in a situation…. In your team, how expressible is your passion for origami, your gender, your religion, or your experience as a parent? And how personally important or practically useful is it that each of these be expressible? In a given context, how much of one’s full range of experience is expressible? And when does it matter? E. Wenger-Trayner & B. Wenger-Trayner (2015), p. 25.
  28. 28. Hearing from my participants
  29. 29. Multiple identities So, you know, I embrace my goofiness, I embrace my quirkiness. Trying not to pretend to be cool by [the students’] standards. Like, I’m a nerd. On Halloween, I am going to be in costume. So, you know, goofy humour, that it’s okay if they don’t get. Embracing that I am a nerd. Meg, experienced librarian, Interview 1 I think primarily of myself as a feminist. So that really informs all of the instruction that I do. And I think that part of how that plays out is that I’ve become much more interested in thinking about how my students will live after college than caring so much about whether they know how to use a database. Lauren, Interview 2
  30. 30. Multiple identities So, you know, I embrace my goofiness, I embrace my quirkiness. Trying not to pretend to be cool by [the students’] standards. Like, I’m a nerd. On Halloween, I am going to be in costume. So, you know, goofy humour, that it’s okay if they don’t get. Embracing that I am a nerd. Meg, experienced librarian, Interview 1 I think primarily of myself as a feminist. So that really informs all of the instruction that I do. And I think that part of how that plays out is that I’ve become much more interested in thinking about how my students will live after college than caring so much about whether they know how to use a database. Lauren, new librarian, Interview 2
  31. 31. Multiple identities [in a non-library credit course] Because who we are is so tied into how we communicate, I simply sent a message to my students at the beginning of class saying, “This is who I am. This is part of why I communicate the way I do” and encouraging them to reveal as much as they felt comfortable doing. “I’m a first-generation American. I’m a practicing Catholic. I’m a cis person, but I have a daughter who identifies as bisexual.” These kinds of things. There’s identity and then there’s performance and you know that teaching involves a great deal of performance. So we can go with the same identity into different contexts and perform differently. I think that’s what I do. I see my identity relatively stable, but I perform it differently in different contexts. Barbara, experienced librarian, Interview 1
  32. 32. What is (not) expressed So I’d say my identity definitely affects my instruction. My identity and also my background in more social justice work. Andrea, mid-career librarian, Interview 1 I don’t think I totally answered that identity question. I am a mixed race Black woman who grew up in an area that was primarily white and Mexican. And I also have a disabled [family member], and I’m a woman. So I think those things really shaped who I am. I definitely grew up feeling like an outsider. And before I became a librarian I worked in non-profits, and did training around identity, social justice, community conditions, and how race and class impact schools and communities. That was a big part of developing my professionalism. It informs why I’m a librarian. I guess I see my identity as very much connected to my sense of social justice. I became a librarian because I want to impact students’ educational experience.
  33. 33. What is (not) expressed So I’d say my identity definitely affects my instruction. My identity and also my background in more social justice work. Andrea, mid-career librarian, Interview 1 I don’t think I totally answered that identity question. I am a mixed race Black woman who grew up in an area that was primarily white and Mexican. And I also have a disabled [family member], and I’m a woman. So I think those things really shaped who I am. I definitely grew up feeling like an outsider. And before I became a librarian I worked in non-profits, and did training around identity, social justice, community conditions, and how race and class impact schools and communities. That was a big part of developing my professionalism. It informs why I’m a librarian. I guess I see my identity as very much connected to my sense of social justice. I became a librarian because I want to impact students’ educational experience.
  34. 34. I’m a progressive Christian. I teach these semester-long [fantasy literature] classes as a way to promote social justice and help students I might connect with, which are going to be the oddballs. You know, to be a positive influence in their life. And all of that’s being an empathetic librarian, empathetic educator. I come to it as a progressive Christian, but it’s also just being a good educator…. I don’t usually talk about [being Christian] all that much. I don’t want to make other people uncomfortable. Meg, experienced librarian, Interview 2
  35. 35. I primarily identify as a queer person. I’m a gender non-conforming person. I would not say that at work in front of anyone really, because no one would understand. To me, queerness is about actively resisting heteronormativity, actively resisting the idea that I have to conform and assimilate to gender norms. My students see me in the classroom, and I give – not like I give them hope, but a lot of them, it’s very meaningful to them. I’m here, I’m a queer adult, and I have a life. It’s very powerful modeling. So, I can grow up and be queer. And it’s okay. Cameron, mid-career librarian, Interview 2
  36. 36. Experiences that shape us as a teacher
  37. 37. I love the [ACRL] Immersions because you go away from them really loving your job. Barbara, experienced librarian, Interview 1 [Talking about Immersion] One of the big things I took away was people’s frustrations. Because in many ways, I have a very supportive [environment]. So to hear perspectives from other people who don’t have access to the same resources or same type of support, it made me realize that they’re some of the things I had taken for granted [that] I think about more intentionally now. [Talking about conferences] We just want a place to be around people who appreciate and do the work that you do. Lauren, new librarian, Interview 1
  38. 38. Drawing on our student experiences and identity “The apprenticeship of observation” (Lortie, 1975) – the years we all spent as students, absorbing ideas of what it means to be teacher – and what it means to be a student I think librarians in an academic context love school so much they work at one. You love learning, you love being in a culture and a place that likes learning. People who have succeeded in an academic context are totally self-selected to want to reinforce the construction of that thing. Yeah, we bring so much of our own stuff. Tim, new librarian, Interview 1
  39. 39. Drawing on our student experiences and identity “The apprenticeship of observation” (Lortie, 1975) – the years we all spent as students, absorbing ideas of what it means to be teacher – and what it means to be a student I think librarians in an academic context love school so much they work at one. You love learning, you love being in a culture and a place that likes learning. People who have succeeded in an academic context are totally self-selected to want to reinforce the construction of that thing. Yeah, we bring so much of our own stuff. Tim, new librarian, Interview 1
  40. 40. [From reading feminist works] I realized that part of my comfort was the fact that I’m basically built to work in higher education, or they are built for me. That made me aware of my privilege in higher education – I was intellectually aware but not emotionally ready to confront. Lauren, new librarian, Interview 1 I think my identity as a student is probably also important because I think that my view of myself as a student changed dramatically between undergraduate and graduate school, and I think that’s, in part, why now I feel the need to be so compassionate to undergraduate students. When I was an undergrad myself, I would have felt like everybody was an idiot, people deserve to be called out in class. But when I went to grad school and that type of thing did happen, I realized how that is not conducive to learning. Going through that experience as a learner has changed how, now, I want to be as a teacher. I feel like, sort of, shame about how I used to think about my peers, and that’s carried over into how I try to treat my students now. Lauren, Interview 2
  41. 41. [From reading feminist works] I realized that part of my comfort was the fact that I’m basically built to work in higher education, or they are built for me. That made me aware of my privilege in higher education – I was intellectually aware but not emotionally ready to confront. Lauren, new librarian, Interview 1 I think my identity as a student is probably also important because I think that my view of myself as a student changed dramatically between undergraduate and graduate school, and I think that’s, in part, why now I feel the need to be so compassionate to undergraduate students. When I was an undergrad myself, I would have felt like everybody was an idiot, people deserve to be called out in class. But when I went to grad school and that type of thing did happen, I realized how that is not conducive to learning. Going through that experience as a learner has changed how, now, I want to be as a teacher. I feel like, sort of, shame about how I used to think about my peers, and that’s carried over into how I try to treat my students now. Lauren, Interview 2
  42. 42. Implications for practice? If the “self that teaches” matters, how do we/can we express and develop that self? Parker Palmer: “How can the teacher’s selfhood become a legitimate topic in education and in our public dialogues on educational reform?” (p. 2)
  43. 43. Our contexts The one-shot Professional culture
  44. 44. We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience. John Dewey (1933), p. 78. Reflection on the “self that teaches” Online handout: http://tinyurl.com/y233vqnp
  45. 45. References Association of College & Research Libraries. (2017). Roles and strengths of teaching librarians. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/teachinglibrarians Dewey, J. (1933). How we think (new ed). Boston, MA: Heath. Lortie, D. C. (1975). Schoolteacher: A sociological study. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Palmer, P. (2008). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life (10th anniv. ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Pressley, L., Dale, J., & Kellam, L. (2014). At the corner of personality and competencies: Exploring professional personas for librarians. In N. Pagowsky & M. Rigby (Eds.), The librarian stereotype: Deconstructing perceptions and presentations of information work (pp. 213–228). Chicago, IL: Association of College & Research Libraries. Vignoles, V. L., Schwartz, S. J., & Luyckx, K. (2011). Introduction: Toward an integrative view of identity. In S. J. Schwartz, K. Luyckx, & V. L. Vignoles (Eds.), Handbook of identity theory and research (pp. 1–27). New York, NY: Springer. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-7988-9 Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015). Learning in a landscape of practice: A framework. In E. Wenger- Trayner, M. Fenton-O’Creevy, S. Hutchinson, C. Kubiak, & B. Wenger-Trayner (Eds.), Learning in landscapes of practice: Boundaries, identity, and knowledgeability in practice-based learning. London, UK: Routledge. Williamson, J. M., & Lounsbury, J. W. (2016). Distinctive 16 PF personality traits of librarians. Journal of Library Administration, 56(2), 124–143. http://doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2015.1105045
  46. 46. Eveline Houtman eveline.houtman@utoronto.ca Twitter: @EvelineLH Questions?
  47. 47. Eveline Houtman Library Instruction Coordinator Robarts Library, University of Toronto Email: eveline.houtman@utoronto.ca Telephone: 1 416 457-8969 Twitter: @EvelineLH

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