As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have had to adapt our teaching practices. Reflective practice is something to consider adding to your library instruction. In this blog post, I speak with Amanda Leftwich, Student Success Librarian at Montgomery County Community College to learn more about incorporating reflective practices into library instruction.
Jamia: From your experience, how can we incorporate reflective practice into library instruction?
Amanda: Reflective practice is a continuous learning process. Through this process, we notice our own patterns and processes in order to pinpoint where our attention is needed most. Through this continuous practice, we make connections to where growth is desired, examine our actions without judgment, and question where further exploration is needed.
Reflection types include:
- Personal (how we understand and interact with things)
- Professional development (how we grow in the workplace or growth in our learning)
- Sense of place and connection (how you grow or thrive in a particular place/how you aren’t growing/thriving in that place).
As faculty librarians, it’s important to connect not only to what we do, but why! If we focus on the reflection type for professional development in terms of library instruction, one might ask how you are connecting your professional and research interests into your teaching. If accessibility is important to you, for example, how are you ensuring that your IL sessions are accessible for not only your classes but across the board? How can we make better intersections from theory into practice, and later into the classroom? Again, reflective practice asks us to question what we’re already doing but gives us room to recognize where growth is needed. Begin with a question or questions, what do I notice about my IL sessions with students? What do I notice about their interactions with the material? Do these connections intersect with my research and/or teaching philosophy? Why or why not?
Your observations aren’t meant to solve anything, but to assist you in making introspections on your own development. Allow yourself to reflect on your observations, and gently. This takes constant practice, but it is a worthwhile journey.
Jamia: How important has reflective practice been for you during the pandemic?
Amanda: Reflective practice has been essential to my own wellness during the pandemic. It’s helped me remember what’s actually important, providing support to students without judging myself about what I couldn’t provide. It’s a global pandemic, and we’re all doing our best to survive. My main reflective prompt during this time has been how can I give myself more grace in one minute, one hour, or one day? I’ve focused my attention and awareness based on how I’m feeling that day, which means I need to check in with myself constantly. I’m not interested in participating in anti-rest or resilience narratives. I’m doing my best with what I have at that moment; if I don’t have “it,” it’s not meant to be done.
As a profession, we need to acknowledge what we can do and what’s impossible. In order for wellness, care, and even reflective practice to thrive in LIS, we must come to terms with what’s not working and dismantle structures and barriers in place that harm library workers. Until we do, things will remain the same, with or without a pandemic. We must take a clear stance on whether we truly care about library workers and their mental health, and make the necessary changes. The time is now. My goal is to share tips and techniques related to care and wellness, while also highlighting the necessity for change in the profession.
Amanda M. Leftwich (she/hers) currently works as the Student Success Librarian at Montgomery County Community College. She holds a Master of Science in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Her expertise and research interests include mindful practice in librarianship, reflective practice, and communities of practice. She is the founder of mindfulinlis and co-creator of LibVoices. Learn more about Amanda’s work and activities.
- Wellness and Librarianship: An Interview with Loida Garcia-Febo
- An Interview with Kaetrena Davis Kendrick: Low-Morale Experiences & COVID-19
- Check out our Social and Emotional Learning Toolkit for a special 6-part SEL workshop and more!
- Advance your skills with Infobase Learning Cloud Professional Development & Training!