Pedagogy and practice

Pedagogy:  The method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept. (Oxford Dictionaries)

The Learning and Research Services team (of which I’m now a part) held our first ‘Pedagogy and Practice’ (P & P) session last week. As Sam Gamgee almost said in The Fellowship of the Ring (at least in the film version): “Now, there [was] an eye opener and no mistake!

Although I’ve taught a lot of people a lot of things over the years I’ve never really thought of myself as ‘doing teaching’ – bad syntax I know, sorry. I used to make ‘lesson’ plans, very early on my career when I was young and keen and encouraged to do so; but then my career path took me away from delivering training/information skills sessions and into user services, where, although I did help out with inductions and things this was quite rare, and the actual planning and pedagogy side of it was left to someone else (usually someone from the Academic Services (now LRS) team.

So, to say I was daunted by last week’s session might be an understatement. In the event, of course, it wasn’t that bad, although I did feel that I had a lot less to contribute than the rest of the team. I found the  mini ‘teach meet‘ part of the session particularly difficult, partly because of the subject matter – innovation or good practice in our own work – I couldn’t think of anything to talk about! In the end I talked about the drop-in sessions we’ve been holding (of which more in another post).

I have a lot of catching up to do, in terms of both theoretical knowledge and teaching practice. My’teaching’ at the moment is me standing in front of a PowerPoint telling people things about repositories and Open Access and questions at the end if we have time. Interaction is minimal (unless it’s a hands on session using the repository) – but I think that’s partly due to the nature of the beast – I’m imparting information rather than skills, most of the time…but having said that, I’m sure there must be more interesting ways to go about this, and I’m hoping the  P & P sessions will help me to learn some new techniques in this area. Another issue with the teaching AH and I do is that we’re mainly teaching researchers and academic staff, as opposed to undergraduates who are the majority ‘audience’ for the rest of the LRS team, and sometimes its hard to pitch the session at the right level or sufficiently engage people, among other things. Again, I’m hoping these are subjects we can talk about at a future P & P session.

It was fascinating to listen to everyone else and hear about what innovations they’ve made and their experience and knowledge of both pedagogy and teaching in pratice. I think I learned more about it all in those two hours than in my past 10 years as a librarian! I’m very much looking forward to future sessions and hoping I can contribute more as the time goes on, as well as putting into practice some of what I learn.

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