Featured Teaching Librarian: Raymond Pun

Several times a year, the ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee selects and interviews a librarian who demonstrates a passion for teaching, innovation, and student learning.

headshot of Raymond Pun

Name: Raymond Pun

Institution: Alder Graduate School of Education

Job Title: Academic and Research Librarian

Number of Years Teaching: 16

Tell us 1-2 interesting things about yourself.

I grew up making origamis, from paper cranes to lucky stars to a 19th century pagoda. I can make many different objects using different types of papers, including junk mail, which is a good way to repurpose for sustainability! I learned this from a school librarian friend, Carolyn, from Virginia! I’ve taught others how to make origami too. It’s peaceful and fun!

Describe a favorite activity that you use with students (this could be for a face-to-face class, online, or hybrid class).

For in-person workshops, I like to include the Cephalonian method to engage with learners visually and informally through dialogue. The method consists of cards with prepared questions that students are to ask during the session for the librarian to answer. I can include 5-6 images relevant to the library and talk about what these images are. A student may be prompted to ask a question if they see their image on the screen, like “how do I find scholarly sources,” and after I’d briefly explain, “Oh that’s a great question, here’s how, let me show you…” This technique is often used during library orientations, but it works very well with library instruction, especially for first-year students from my experiences. 

You can also find funny and relevant images to engage with learners, such as library memes or a pop culture reference. It works very well in person. I haven’t tried it online, but I think it could work too if you plan ahead and get a few volunteers to “hold on to the images” before reading their questions. I learned about the Cephalonian method from Nicole Brown from UC Berkeley Library, an amazing instruction librarian! Thank you, Nicole!

What are you doing to make your instruction more inclusive? (This could include particular strategies you’re using, trainings you’ve attended, or articles you’ve read.)

I make my instruction more inclusive by having students think about the inherent biases that exist in academic databases and scholarly knowledge. I might show “The Wheel of Privilege and Power” graphic by Sylvia Duckworth to highlight how we need to think about marginalized voices in scholarship and how to bring those voices into scholarly voices. This graphic can help them understand the complex layers of status quo biases. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good starting point for students to think about how there may be a particular dominant point of view that is shaped by academia, and we need to interrogate that as we research, write, and read, and critically reflect on the texts. 

We may examine subject headings in the articles/databases, how they are decided, and how we define and use “keywords” in searching, especially if it’s about specific groups of people. My instruction is more than just showing how to access and use the databases effectively; instead, it’s about how to think critically about scholarly information and its impact in their own research, writing, and reading.

Tell us about the library instruction at your institution. How many librarians at your institution teach?

Just me! A solo librarian teaching 450+ amazing graduate students/preservice teachers, training to be teachers at the Alder Graduate School of Education, a teacher residency program in California. I teach them asynchronously during the summer semester, and in the fall semester by faculty request, and synchronously and in partnership with faculty in the spring semester for their action research class.

Tell us how you assess your classes (e.g. mud cards, clickers, reflections).

One minute responses to two questions: 

  1. What did you learn to be helpful? 
  2. What questions do you still have? 

It’s a good formative way to assess what worked and areas to cover in the future. I like to read the responses because they tell me what students are thinking or feeling, which helps me to think about what I can consider for improvement.

Name two things you would share with a librarian who is new to teaching.

  1. Everyone is nervous when they first have to do a workshop/presentation to students. It’s totally natural and OK to feel this way! I used to be so nervous when I had to do a library orientation and workshop at the public library at the New York Public Library. I learned to treat each workshop as an opportunity to promote the library’s resources and services, and, most of all, to identify resources to best meet their needs.
  2. Every tech hiccup is a learning experience. It has happened to everyone teaching before and is part of the learning process to prepare for the future. For example, the internet suddenly does not work or the projector is not showing your slides for some reason. It can happen; you have to make the most out of it and make sure to prepare ahead of time. Faculty and students can be very understanding and patient. Also, these experiences make great stories to share with other librarians. We learn a lot when things don’t go as planned!

Please share with us any links to LibGuides, presentations, social media accounts, etc.

Ray Pun’s Personal Website

Ray Pun’s Instagram

Ray Pun’s Twitter/X

Ray Pun – Using ChatGPT to Engage in Library Instruction? Challenges and Opportunities

The ACRL IS Teaching Methods Committee selects the Featured Teaching Librarian based on specific award criteria and through an anonymized selection process. The committee acknowledges that the selection for this award is not an endorsement of Raymond Pun’s candidacy for ALA President.

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One Response to Featured Teaching Librarian: Raymond Pun

  1. Julie Hornick says:

    I will definitely be looking for ways to incorporate the Wheel of Power and Privilege into my instruction practice. Thanks for the tip!

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