Read If Organizing Work Things Sparks Joy

Image of assorted color markers in a glass jar next to a blank notebookPhoto by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

I couldn’t help the Marie Kondo reference. (I really enjoyed Season 1 of “Tidying Up.” I go through purging periods every so often, so I am here for it.)

The longer I am at my job, the better I am getting at figuring out a system to keep track of what I work on. Who knew that some simple templates and a planner could help me feel better during those moments of one-shot instruction fatigue? As I’m not involved with meaningful assessment, it’s challenging for me to see the long-term effects of the work I do, so documenting my activities helps keep me motivated.

After I received the final documentation for my first review, I created a template in Google Docs for the documentation that I am responsible for turning in (visit “UC Librarian Review Process“), and I’ll be in much better shape for my next review in January 2020 as I have been filling it out with more significant projects and partnerships as I go along.

For instruction, I typically put all of my classes into Outlook because our research appointment calendar syncs with Outlook, but I learned that it is miserable to go back into your calendar to figure out how many classes and workshops you taught during a particular semester. Our research instruction request forms are also connected to the system we use for submitting post-class statistics. The library’s programmer was able to enhance our system so that we can see which classes have not had statistics submitted, but once you submit, it’s clunky to run a query.

I created yet another template to help me out in Google Sheets: bit.ly/class_stats_template It has a tab for classes and a tab for workshops. The Guide column is the URL to the class LibGuide. Students refers to the number of students. The Stats Recorded column is just a note for myself as I submit statistics into our system because I sometimes let it pile up. The Google Folder column is the key to what I actually did in class, as it links to a folder in Google Drive that contains the class syllabus, research assignment, and my lesson plan. In Google Drive, I have a 2018-2019 folder with subfolders for Fall 2018 and Spring 2019. My basic folder structure looks like the following: Semester > Instructor Name > Course. It’s now super simple for me to find all the corresponding documentation for each class I taught. If you’re interested, I also started using a new lesson plan template that I adapted from another librarian: bit.ly/lesson_plan_template I’m bummed to say that I don’t remember who shared it, but I need to comb through some librarian listserv archives to find out because I really need to thank them!

Seeing some of my work reflected in my Classes & Workshops spreadsheet this past semester has made me feel a lot better.

When I worked at the community college, one of my librarian mentors suggested that I get a paper planner that has both a monthly and weekly format, so that I take brief notes about what I work on within the planner. This semester, I’m going to utilize a planner to reflect on my teaching. While I print my lesson plans and write on them during class, they can look pretty cruddy. I need to do a better job about writing down what worked, what didn’t, observations, etc. (On that note, I do plan to finally finish reading char booth’s Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional Literature for Library Educators, though I think char is working on a new edition.)

I also feel like this could be a fun workshop at conference–sharing instructional planning materials and tools and methods for keeping track of work. Like New Year library programming but for academic librarians.

Rapid Prototyping in the Wild

This April, while I was celebrating my birthday in Sonoma, my instruction colleagues and supervisor attended the CARL Conference. My supervisor also attended the pre-conference, “Let’s Build Something! A Rapid Prototyping Instructional Design Workshop,” which was presented by UC colleagues Dani Brecher Cook (UC Riverside) and Doug Worsham (UCLA). Adapted from Stanford’s d.school’s Design Thinking Bootcamp Bootleg and Brown and Macanufo’s (2010) Gamestorming, the series of worksheets they have created¬† have been extremely helpful planning tools for designing learning objects. The worksheets include:

  • Empathy Map
  • Learning Journey Map
  • 4 Paths Prototype
  • I like, I Wish, What If?

Find the entire toolkit at: https://ucla.app.box.com/v/build-something-toolkit

I hope others find these worksheets as helpful as I’ve found them to be. We’ve been using the materials to help us plan and design learning objects for our newest general education course at UC Merced, the Spark Seminar, which begins this fall. What’s truly exciting about SPRK 001 is its focus on research as inquiry, which affords us the opportunity to engage with the Research as Inquiry frame of the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education head-on. It’s not that we don’t teach this, but this course spells it out for us a bit more readily.¬†The idea is that instructors will be able to launch the learning objects we’re working on independently via Canvas, giving us the time to teach about how to approach the research process and how to begin developing research questions in person. The learning objects we’re making aren’t full-fledged modules, but they will assignments with embedded activities.

I’m very excited about this project. Some of the instructors teaching SPRK 001 are also those that we haven’t necessarily worked with before, so it gives us another opportunity to show what we can do to a new set of folks. I also think this could have a greater impact on the university since other faculty will also be able to use these activities.

The objects I’m working on focus on databases–what they are, why students should use them, and how to select a relevant one (we have 700+). I’ll be building these in Canvas next week.