New school year: focusing on our students!

August 17, 2012

Our new academic year at Elgin Community College begins on Monday (Aug. 20).  I have always loved the beginning of the school year, both as a kid, and as a librarian/instructor (yay to new school clothes and shoes!).  It is fun getting to know the students, and there is much satisfaction in helping them reach their goals.

Yesterday we had our convocation, and one of the overriding themes was that we are ALL responsible for student retention, completion, and success.  It starts with the students’ first interaction, and it continues throughout their time at the college.  Understanding where your students are coming from is a very important aspect to understanding their motivation, expectations, limitations, goals, and needs.  The older I get, the more removed I am from the next generations (and the younger the students look!)

That’s why I love to see the Beloit Mindset List each year.  It always helps to put things into perspective, as well as making me feel really old!  It also reminds me what cultural references NOT to use in my instruction examples!

From the 2014 list, this excerpt from the description  precedes the actual list:

The males among them are likely to be a minority. They will be armed with iPhones and BlackBerries, on which making a phone call will be only one of many, many functions they will perform. They will now be awash with a computerized technology that will not distinguish information and knowledge. So it will be up to their professors to help them.  A generation accustomed to instant access will need to acquire the patience of scholarship. They will discover how to research information in books and journals and not just on-line. Their professors, who might be tempted to think that they are hip enough and therefore ready and relevant to teach the new generation, might remember that Kurt Cobain is now on the classic oldies station. (emphasis mine)

What a wake-up call to librarians! 

We will need to realize that students are not lazy or playing dumb–they actually haven’t experienced research in the way most of us have.  We should have the attitude that we are the “superheroes” of the information world, and we can help the students to navigate this Wild West.  We are needed more than ever.  We need to teach to that understanding so students receive the optimal education in research.

Plus, check out the Mindset list, #1, #26, and #32–no cursive, no slides, or not knowing Czechoslovakia? Now, that makes me feel old!

Best of luck to all you school and academic librarians.  Remember that every interaction makes a difference to the school, the student, and the community.


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