I’ve had a lot of professional development over the years, in a variety of industries (there was a 12 year gap between college and getting my MLS). A few times I’ve felt as though I should demand a refund for hours of my life absolutely wasted. Most of the time there’s been something I can take back to my work, sharing with others or simply using in my own practice. Then there was last summer and the AISL Summer Institute at Emma Willard School. Katie has already blogged elsewhere on the overall experience, so I won’t cover everything. And I’ll be part of a panel presentation at the upcoming AISL Conference in NOLA in March.
What made this the best PD I’ve done in memory (I’ll stipulate to getting old and perhaps not remembering how wonderful I thought something was at that time) was not just the setting – although I am partial to my alma mater – was what we refer to these days as the takeaway. And OMG how useful it has been and will continue to be. After introduction and discussion about what design thinking is and how to do it, we divided into groups linked by common problems and began to brainstorm. My group decided to focus on how we, as librarians, can help panicked students do research.
When I introduce students to research, even during a 10-15 minute rushed talk, I mention that I understand their plight (as I’ve blogged before, we often forget what that’s like). The problem then becomes how do they remember what I’ve gone through as they work on their projects? Many are afraid to disturb us, particularly when they see we’re busy processing new books or working on other stuff – all stuff we’re happy (eager?!) to put aside to help them. And teachers frequently don’t emphasize our role as partners or resources, so… Luckily, my AISL group all felt my pain. And we decided to come up with an infographic that helped the students go from stressed to successful.
I brought that infographic home with me, and we created bookmarks from it. Those bookmarks went into each teacher’s mailbox at the start of the year and are now being handed out to our US History students as they begin their Big Research Paper. But bookmarks alone aren’t good enough.
For each project we use Springshare’s LibGuide’s platform to create a Resource Guide and each year we update it. Here is this year’s guide. Notice that right column! Yep, we took the infographic, added live links and posted it on the guide (full size version here). And we’ll be adding it to our other guides.
It’s too early to figure out how successful this will be. But I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to help students stress less, succeed more. And that’s what makes for good PD: something you can use immediately, something you can customize to your situation easily, and something that will have a positive effect on your students.