in General, Libraries/Info Sci

Peer Instruction

I’ve had a slight change in my job description. Together with another new hire, I’ll be in charge of most of UAH’s student instruction efforts. So glad I took a course on it last semester!

I admit to being a bit nervous: In some cases, I’ll only be a year and a bit older than the students I’m teaching. Has anyone else been in this situation? Any problems or success stories? I’d love to hear them.

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  1. I was a camp counselor for teens a year younger than I was, and then I taught college students only a few years younger–it’s all good. I think, actually, that it can be an advantage–perhaps especially in a library, where a lot of students will, I imagine, be pleasantly surprised by a young, hip librarian. Good luck!

  2. You won’t necessarily be older than the students. With growing numbers of older students, you may well be younger! In my experience, it’s never been a problem. As long as you are confident, and know the material, you will be fine! Perhaps ask your colleagues if they wouldn’t mind practicing with you a little if you want to try out a few things before you go ‘live’!

  3. My thoughts exactly that in many instances you could be a lot younger than your students. Just be well prepared, be enthusiastic. I am sure you bring love of the career to the job, so conveying that should be easy. A little nervousness is good; I have been teaching in various forms for ages it seems, and I still get my little nervousness. I just embrace it as a way to keep me on my toes. More importantly, always free to ask questions from your colleagues on the job or from other librarians in the blogosphere or “out there.” Instruction people tend to be very helpful when one of their own call for help. And best of luck. It sounds exciting.

  4. When I had my first job as a psychotherapist, I worked with adults and 100% of them were older than me (in some cases 40 years older!). I was worried that they wouldn’t take me seriously being that I was 23 years old at the time. Nearly all of them did
    and those who didn’t really had their own psychological reasons for not listening and would have found a reason to ignore whomever was their therapist. What really matters is to project confidence and know your stuff. You may have some great insights into instruction that your older colleagues may not have, and you may be able to use your age as a positive thing to develop rapport with some students. Just be confident!

  5. I am at my first library job out of school and have been here just over a year now. I handle the instruction at my library and am at times just barely older than our students and many times even younger. It’s not a problem at all. What helped me through the first session and getting on my feet is that another librarian helped me with the first class – we co-taught – and after that I was on my own. It was a nice transition to have someone there to back me up if I hit a blank wall – which I did! – and also to have someone give me feedback on what worked well, what didn’t, what could be improved … etc. Be confident – you know your stuff – and most importantly have fun! Good luck. 🙂

  6. This happened to me in LIS school when I did some of the graduate library instruction. My less-than-a-year-on-the-job-advice is pretty simple: be as prepared as possible and as it’s been said above, have fun with it. If you are able to the first time up, have a colleague co-teach with you or sit in on their classes to feel for the different teaching styles. I unexpectantly had to take over instruction at my library earlier this year, and before I did one on my own I did a lot of observing. Taking the BI class in LIS school was an asset, but real practice is what will give you the confidence and loosen the death grip on the instructor’s lectern :-). You may wish to sign up on ACRL’s Instruction listserv and definitely check out the presentations previously given at your institution and by similar libraries. Everyone has a different approach. Good luck!


  • Tame the Web: Libraries and Technology 8/14/2005

    Instructing Peers

    Chad, making the move to his first big library job, posts this: I’ve had a slight change in my job description. Together with another new hire, I’ll be in charge of most of UAH’s studen…