I write this post after an evening of catching up with several friends, two of whom are TFAs in Detroit right now (Teach for America). They’re both teaching third grade. Their tales of teaching and of their students are a whole different story; however, it led to some reflection on my part of how I never wanted to be a teacher (expressed in other posts on this blog) and yet I am going to become one, in part. Another friend and I discussed how teaching always sounded un-enjoyable, but then we had experiences that changed that a bit: for me it was peer tutoring and teaching workshops in my role at work, and how helping people and imparting knowledge was very gratifying.
My casual cocktail conversation last night grew out of our class discussion about information literacy last week. It also was influenced by a librarian who I’ve been lucky enough to shadow at work–she talked about providing instruction as a department liaison and while she is doing far more teaching than she expected (as a subject specialist), she’s found it’s one of her favorite parts of the job. It’s a bit difficult to try to put what I’m feeling and thinking into words, but I’ll attempt it by using some examples from class: part of the gratification comes from helping users and students (and friends, coworkers, family…) feel better and happier about their work, and to both relieve their stress and anxiety and empower them to do better work. In class, we talked about the librarians who teach U-M’s UC 174 course built relationships with their students, and often those students stop by the ref desk and ask specifically for them.
Another example was our talk about Carol Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process. It was a relief to know that I’m not the only one who experiences big swings in emotions while conducting research and writing papers! I love the idea of using emotions to identify the best step in the research process for librarians to intervene–not at the beginning, but at the time of need (panic!).