Tag Archives: space

The ‘teacher’ in ‘teacher librarian’

Earlier this week, through Twitter, I became acquainted with Lisa Hinchliffe, Professor/Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction in the University Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an affiliate faculty member in the university’s library school.

While perusing her writing, this paragraph resonated with me:

Careful consideration to constructing the learning environment and not only focusing on teacher performance has been a mantra for my instructional design practice since then.

This is a very interesting area of investigation for me as a teacher librarian. When people ask me where I work and I say Melbourne High School, they assume I’m a teacher and when I say I’m a teacher librarian, they say, oh, you’re in the library, as if I’m in a box, maybe like a music box that, when opened, keeps the ballerina firmly attached to her space, rotating clockwise only to one tune – definitely not a teacher, not a real one anyway.

Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact, because (and I feel like telling them this, but it’s too long and sounds defensive), my role is just as integrated in education as a teacher’s only it’s more diverse and doesn’t necessarily play out as the teacher at the front of the class which the teacher owns.

Everything I do is connected with the teaching and learning that happens in the school: I work across the curriculum, I teach transferable, global skills, I create curricular content and educational resources online, and I depend on collaboration with teachers and students. Nothing useful would eventuate if I didn’t collaborate – that is, have conversations, come into classes, watch how teachers teach, watch how students learn, etc. If I didn’t do that, if I didn’t have that insight and developing understanding, then my work would be detached from the work of teachers and learning of students, and I would be exactly what most people think I am – in a world of my own, the library world, ‘not doing any work’, as some teachers like to joke (it’s getting tired).

Of course, the big one in terms of being accepted as a real teacher is that you assess student work and write reports – and that’s sad because teachers’ talents do not reside in this tiresome task.  It’s sad that the marking becomes the overriding signature of teaching.

So, big rave, but ‘teacher performance’ is what most people equate with ‘teaching’ and ‘being a teacher’. If I don’t ‘teach class on my own’, if I’m not standing there talk-teaching, then I’m not a teacher; I must be a librarian.

Sigh.

‘The learning environment’ that Lisa mentions is really something that I’m interested in unpacking, and I think I’m in the position of understanding it well because of my whole-school involvement with teaching and learning.

All teachers know well that learning happens everywhere, anytime and not just in the classroom during the class. I have a form this year, for the first time, and I try to inject as much learning (in the broadest sense) as possible in those 10 minute daily sessions. The blog that I started for my students is a virtual time-capsule which I hope they’ll appreciate once they leave school. It’s a mish-mash of photos of students, recorded interviews with them, short panel sessions about what they think, whiteboard surveys of inane content, interspersed with creative short films and animation, gifs, memes (whatever I think they might respond to), and some academic guidelines along the lines of study skills and sharing of our online resources for some of their subjects. Mostly the blog is an experiment, and the main aim is to create community, to let them know I care about them, not just their academic pursuits, hopefully support them when they do something they’re proud of, enable them to support each other.

The ‘learning environment’ is exactly what the library is about. Of course, the whole school is a learning environment but the library is a more concentrated one.  Unlike classrooms which are utilised by specific teachers and classes, the library is the space for everyone – across age groups, academic levels, and curriculum. It designs its space and purpose very carefully, in response to the needs of its users, never static, always acting on ongoing reflection and observation, experimenting.

The word ‘library’ has been contentious for a long time – some prefer ‘learning commons’, some ‘media centre’, others insist the traditional ‘library’ is still the most apt name. Perhaps. It does come with a lot of baggage, but then new words acquire the baggage over time. In the past I was annoyed when ‘library’s’ main connotation was a space for books but these days I doubt that anyone would have that limited view for either school or public library. Both are open, welcoming spaces and both are synonymous with learning.

It’s the ‘teaching’ part which is more difficult to insert. I’ve pulled out two quotes from Lisa’s powerpoint (linked from her blog post):

“Teaching: Any activity that has the conscious intention of and potential for facilitating learning in others”.  Robert Leamonson

“Good teaching is the creation of those circumstances that lead in significant learning in others”. Donald L. Finkel in ‘Teaching With Your Mouth Shut’.

It’s time to broaden our understanding of ‘teaching’. Only then can the ‘teacher’ in ‘teacher librarian’ begin to be understood.

Constant Moyaux (French, 1835–1911)
View of Rome from the Artist’s Room at the Villa Medici, 1863
Watercolor on paper

 

How do we ‘teach’ rhizomatically? Or, even… do we? #rhizo15 #week4

Photo source

I’ve been collecting and categorising (or at least naming) images on Pinterest for a while now. At times it’s been obsessive. Talk about content and non-content – I feel as I ‘own’ these images, that is, I have them in MY collection but actually I know that they are not mine, I don’t own them,  nor do I actually have them in my possession. Just like my playlists on Spotify. I have so much music! I can listen to it any time but it’s not actually mine; I have none of it in my hand.

Anyway, I digress from the topic. So for some reason I started collecting pictures that represented ‘looking out’, for example, an open window like the one above.  Some of these pictures featured a person looking out like this one.

Photo source

See how the next picture shows looking out from a different viewer position.

Photo source

Soon after creating this collection it seemed logical to collect images representing ‘looking in’.  Here’s an example.

Photo source

However this is my preferred representation of looking in.

Photo source

I think of this picture as ‘looking in’ because it feels like introspection. The woman only has a blank wall in front of her and yet she seems to be intent on something.  She is looking inward, don’t you think?

Here’s another ‘looking in’. The woman is concentrating inwardly to such an extent that she is no longer separate from her surroundings.

Photo source

Here’s one which could should perhaps be ‘looking out’ but feels like ‘looking in’. Do you agree?

Maybe it’s the direction the chair is facing – not out towards the window but inwards. The suggestion of a person having been on the chair, almost still sitting there in spirit, makes me think it’s an introspective picture.

But if we go back to this picture

I also think that the girl is looking inwards. She is simultaneously looking out and in.

Why am I talking about this? It’s the open window. It’s enticing.

Open is enticing and also a bit frightening. Looking through a window intensifies the longing, anticipation or fear because it contrasts with the contained space – the room.  Unlimited space contrasted with contained space. And yet there is no doubt that the space through and beyond the open window is more enticing than the contained space of the room. When our classroom becomes open – for example, open blogs revealing student writing to the world, near and far, or through open ended, unprescribed tasks, do students feel enticed, afraid, both? Does this help them reach out to an unknown audience or reach inside themselves because they have their own space for reflection and slow writing? Both.

Marc Chagall’s ‘The window’ (1924) plays with my perspective. What about you?

If you stare at the window frame and opened window frames long enough does your perspective shift from the way they’re drawn, that is, drawn in (and so the outside is almost coming in) to being pushed out with the energy reaching out into the outdoors, into the vast space.

Openness in learning. Opening the window so that learners have a space to reach out into. An undefined space, a space with limitless possibilities. Is this space too much? Could they drown in it?

As teachers facilitating this kind of learning  are we looking out or looking in? Or is it like the pictures in which both occur simultaneously? We want students to look out and imagine possibilities and also look in to reflect and make sense of what they’ve seen.

Rhizomatic learning is chaos. Delicious chaos for those who experience it so. Overwhelming, perhaps, for those who haven’t found their footing.  I’m writing this after reading clusters of conversations in different spaces – Facebook, Google +, blogs, Twitter. The rhizome bleeds into spontaneous spaces, following its cluster will. Underground it shoots off and off while the world above the surface wakes, eats, works, plays and sleeps again.

Where is the creator?

What creator? Space is. Within it life. Clustered stars, planets. Human reach goes out far, meets others in space, clustered lights illuminating the dark. Can the rhizome break through the ground and reach space? Are the underground and space co-existant?

Where is the artist creator in this picture?

Who knows? We know the artist painted the picture but he’s long gone; now the picture just is in the present.

How do we ‘teach’ rhizomatically?  Or, even… do we?

Are you still asking that same question? Am I teaching? Or am I just opening the window?

 

Tweeting from space – NASA on Twitter

 

 Some time ago, when talking about Twitter, I mentioned an astronaut using Twitter to share his journey to space – @Astro_mike, or Mike Massimino, a NASA astronaut, mission specialist for STS-125. You can see Mike along with the rest of the team on the NASA website.   Receiving real-time tweets as he prepared for launch, as he described his experiences in space, and in his readjustment to gravity on earth, he offered a unique perspective, much different to a newspaper article or even interview.

Although not as thrilling as the real-time follow, I decided to share selected tweets throughout his journey. Since the latest tweet is on top, you’ll have to start at the bottom.

  Finished a physical exam with the doctors, all is good, I am cleared to resume driving a car, flying, and light exercise3:34 AM May 28th from TwitterBerry

Going to our crew return ceremony, watch it live at 4PM central at www.ustream.tv/nasa2explore6:34 AM May 27th from TwitterBerry

Woke up with slightly sore back and lower legs, my muscles are re-adjusting to gravity11:24 PM May 26th from web

Getting re-adjusted to gravity, let go of a small bag of groceries and must have expected it to float, luckily no damage1:26 PM May 26th from web

On day 12 on a night pass over India I say 2 shooting stars entering the atmosphere below me, streaks of light below, I made 2 wishes11:41 PM May 25th from web

favorite moment on last full day was night pass over Australia with thunderstorms and city lights below and universe above, a heavenly view11:37 PM May 25th from web

Could not land for 2 days so spent most time looking out windows – this was a gift – listening to music looking at Earth and stars for hours11:34 PM May 25th from web

From orbit: got a call from President Obama, it was a great event for our crew and very thoughtful of the President11:49 PM May 21st from web

From orbit: Just saw Orion’s nebula in the night sky – the sights make all the hard work and risk worthwhile for me7:35 AM May 21st from web

From orbit: Night pass over Australia, the city lights give stunning signs of life on our planet within the darkness of nighttime7:34 AM May 21st from web

From orbit: Just a video conference with my family, it was great to see them7:33 AM May 21st from web

From orbit: As I closed my eyes to sleep last night I thought “these eyes have seen some beautiful sights today”12:39 AM May 21st from web

From orbit: Flying over the Pacific Ocean at night there were some thunder storms, it is so cool to see lightning go off below the clouds10:33 PM May 20th from web

From orbit: The stars at night in space do not twinkle, they look like perfect points of light and I can clearly see the milky way galaxy10:33 PM May 20th from web

From orbit: Viewing the Earth is a study of contrasts, beautiful colors of the planet, thin blue line of atmosphere, pure blackness of space8:08 AM May 20th from web

From orbit: We see 16 sunrises and sunsets in 24 hrs, each one spectacular as the sun lights up the atmosphere in a spectrum of colors8:06 AM May 20th from web

From orbit: The Earth is so beautiful, it is like looking into paradise8:04 AM May 20th from web

From orbit: Getting ready for bed, sleeping in space is cool, tie down your sleeping bag and float inside of it, very relaxing6:27 PM May 19th from web

From orbit: Eating chocolates in space, floating then in front of me then floating and eating them like I am a fish6:26 PM May 19th from web

From orbit: At the end of my spacewalk, I had time to just look at the Earth, the most awesome sight my eyes have seen, undescribable10:43 PM May 18th from web

From orbit: Getting more accustomed to living in space today and getting ready for our big rendezvous with hubble12:16 AM May 14th from web

I’m going to put my spacesuit on, next stop: Earth Orbit!!11:11 PM May 11th from TwitterBerry

Final check with the doctors, getting ready for breakfast. We launch today!!8:52 PM May 11th from TwitterBerry

I’ll tweet when I can from orbit, but it might not be much, follow us after the launch 24/7 on NASA TV, www.nasa.gov/ntv and NASA twitter9:59 AM May 11th from web

Just got up, met with the doctors for a routine checkup, now will start a final review of the spacewalks with my crew – 2 DAYS FROM LAUNCH8:34 PM May 9th from web

Just finished dinner with my crew and our spouses, this is our first night in quarantine in florida after 5 quarantine days in houston10:26 AM May 9th from TwitterBerry

I don’t know about you, but I got enormous satisfaction out of the succinct, personal tweeting by @Astro_Mike.

 You can read Mike’s journal on the NASA site. You can also read the crew profiles and interviews on the site.

I think it would be a unique way to teach about space, don’t you? Do you know any other real-time Twitter-documented journeys that could be used for learning?