Featured Teaching Librarian: Jane Hammons

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

portrait of Jane Hammons

Name: Jane Hammons

Institution: The Ohio State University

Job Title: Teaching & Learning Engagement Librarian

Number of years teaching: 14

Are you a dogs or cats fan?

Both! I have a dog and a cat and they are both great. My dog’s name is Kia and she loves cheese and hates walking in the rain. My cat’s name is Lucky and he loves to be on camera during Zoom meetings. He shows up so often that my supervisor said she was planning to write him a performance review letter.

What are you reading right now?

I am always reading multiple books at one time. I get so excited when I find a book I want to read that I can’t stop myself from starting a new one before I finished the previous one! At the moment, this includes Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, Binge Times: Inside Hollywood’s Furious Billion-Dollar Battle to Take Down Netflix by Dade Hayes and Dawn Chmielewski, Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, and Son by Lois Lowry.

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

Although it sounds simple, I have found true/false activities to be really helpful. I provide a list of statements such as “plagiarism is illegal.” Then I ask participants to decide whether the statements are true. I find it works best when the statements are ones that are a little ambiguous or where I think that the audience is likely to get it wrong. I try to directly address potential misconceptions, such as “If a source is a .org, then it is likely credible.” I find this type of activity allows me to get a better idea of prior knowledge. It gives me the opportunity to directly address misconceptions. It can be done in a face-to-face classroom or online using different types of polling software. And I have done this with different audiences, including students and instructors, and it has worked for engaging both groups.

Tell us about your favorite teaching tools (e.g. cool apps, clickers, etc.).

When I give online workshops, I love using Jamboard. It works really well when you want to give the audience a chance to provide open responses to a discussion question. Everyone can post their response by adding a sticky note and the notes can be moved around the board. It is anonymous so it allows you to hear from many different voices without the participant feeling any pressure that their response has to be right. I have also had a lot of fun recently using Adobe Express to create instructional resources. You can very easily create a professional-looking, sharable web page or guide without having any knowledge of coding. I recently created overview guides for each of the six Framework concepts using this tool, as well as a guide to Source Evaluation myths, and I love how they turned out. 

How has your teaching practice changed over time?

For the first ten years of my career, my primary focus was on working directly with students in the classroom in one-shot sessions. However, in my current position, I work much more often with instructors. For example, I provide multiple workshops aimed at helping instructors to think about how they can incorporate information literacy concepts and skills into their own classes. While I still think that working directly with students is valuable, I think that working with instructors through a “teach the teachers” approach is another path that librarians can take to support student learning and the integration of information literacy into the curriculum. I also feel that my teaching has become much more informed by research than it was when I started. Over the years I’ve had a chance to learn more about pedagogy and instructional design and to review great books on teaching. I have been influenced by this learning in how I approach teaching. Some of the books that have impacted my approach include Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James Lang and Creating Wicked Students: Designing Courses for a Complex World by Paul Hanstedt.

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

First, I would say try not to be too hard on yourself and expect that you will get it right every time. Teaching is challenging, especially teaching through a one-shot approach, and many of us go into teaching with little preparation for the role. It will take time to really feel comfortable teaching and even after you have gained some experience, you will still sometimes make mistakes. And sometimes you can do everything right and still have a class that just doesn’t go the way you had hoped. I’ve tried many activities that I was excited about that ended up not working well at all. It happens to us all! I know it can be hard, but don’t let yourself get too down if you have a difficult experience. 

Second, be open to learning more about teaching as a practice. Read books about teaching, attend teaching workshops or conference sessions if you can. Learning more about the science behind learning, and teaching, really helped me to feel more confident in my own teaching. 

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