Why We Teach

I’m in the thick of orientations for the new semester. By this point, I can do EndNote in my sleep. I’ve taught MEDLINE so many times, it’s scary. I’m almost at the point of not needing to go into a class with even a piece of paper. (When I was a newly minted librarian, a ream of notes was not uncommon). My expectations for these sessions are low. I go in with a realistic set of goals and objectives. I figure that a handful of students will remember the majority of what I teach and that the remainder will hopefully remember a couple of key points.

There’s no fear anymore. To be honest, there isn’t a ton of optimism on my part either.

Today I had a fantastic experience. Let me pause for a moment. “Fantastic experience ” and library orientation do not usually go hand-in-hand, particularly when you are dealing with students new to the research process. Normally, they just don’t get it. They either think there’s nothing to finding the literature or they think their previous efforts are going to cut it. Also, they’re not at the point of need.

Reader, today was different. First of all this was a great group. Every class has a personality and anyone who tells you different has no clue. You get a group of people together and something chemical happens to them. Some groups are morose. Some are rowdy. Some would be bored to tears even if I did handstands.

This class was different. They were attentive. They were intelligent. They were funny. They were engaged. Even when we were deep in the MeSH and the mysteries of explode versus focus, I had their attention. They oohed and ahhed when I showed them EndNote. They were writing notes. They were laughing.

In short, it was great. I’m exhausted but it’s a good kind of exhaustion. I’ve had great classes before. It’s just that typically those take place in a workshop scenario or when the instruction is tied to an assignment. I think this is the first time it’s happened with a general beginning of semester orientation.

So now I’m awaiting my next session with optimism and anticipation.


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