After watching Char Booth’s presentation one thing that resonated with me was that I should not be so concerned about being a perfectionist when it comes to instruction, and to accept that sometimes good enough is good enough. It’s funny because when I conducted my first instruction session last month, the librarian who co-taught that session with me said basically the same thing before the session started. She said that teaching made her very nervous but that she had to remember that the information she was imparting was important for the success of the students. She warned me that sometimes a session can go off track and that the only thing you can do is to just go with it and do your best. Her basic goal for any instruction session was to convey the points that she considered to be the most important and anything after that was a bonus. The one thing that she always reminded herself of before the session was that it was not about her…it was all about the students.
This was helpful because once the instruction session started the professor whose class it was, interrupted me early into it and totally threw my plans off track. This was very distressing as it was the first time I had taught before (except for one on one reference transactions) and I was pretty terrified and had expected to rely on my script. I was forced to go off script and ended up spending most of the time going from desk to desk and helping people individually or in smaller groups. This actually ended up working out better because I found I was less nervous moving around the class than I was when I stood behind the podium.
Looking forward with that experience behind me I wonder if my style of teaching is to be more interactive and to act in a more personal way. Behind the podium I was stiff and probably pretty boring, but while roving around the room I was able to interject some personality into my teaching style, and actually managed to garner some laughter (although I do hope they were laughing with me and not at me). The evaluations were all positive and a couple of people said that they learned a lot and that they had fun, although I am not sure if ‘fun’ is my ultimate goal in teaching. I wonder how you can effectively create a balance between learning and fun.