Be real

/ 19 August 2009

Yesterday I gave a talk to the wonderful staff of the CSBSJU libraries. I love the setting and the scale of this library, so I knew I’d enjoy the event. Even so, I got nervous as always about my talk. Did I have anything worthwhile to share? Would I keep people awake and thinking or put them to sleep? Was I using my toolkit in a way that enhanced the discussion or shut it down? I think the talk went well, I got some nice feedback from the staff, and maybe I’ll have to courage to do something similar again some time.

Getting up in front of a roomful of (essentially) strangers is something that many librarians confront every day. We are teachers, among other things. Today I came across a very helpful post by Carrie Donovan on In the Library with the Lead Pipe. She talks about being authentic in the classroom:

In his book, The Courage to Teach, Parker Palmer (1998) discusses identity as the evolution of all the forces that come together to form a person, including: background, culture, experience, and anything else that shapes the self. Recognizing that we bring all of these aspects of ourselves to everything we do, including our instructional activities, is key to finding your teaching identity. Librarians have pursued neutrality for a long time in their provision of organized and accessible information and knowledge, but this philosophy does not serve us well in the classroom.

We have to find (and share) ourselves in order to convey the richness of the experiences we want our students (or audience) to grasp. Not easy, but very rewarding when we pull it off!


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