Learn by Teaching

Megan Hartline —  August 29, 2013 — Leave a comment

Book cover of Continuing Education for Librarians

Let me channel Seneca the Younger for a minute and say that docendo discimus: the most thorough way to learn something is through teaching it.

Librarians tend to live by this principle instinctively. I can’t count the number of times I’ve crammed on a software tutorial right before teaching a workshop on it. My current goal is to do this docendo discimus thing more formally and consciously.

Continuing Education for Librariansa collection of reports from librarians  about how they pursue professional development, includes a section about learning by teaching [full disclosure: I have a chapter in this book]. Celia Ross’s chapter on “Professional Development Through Teaching” provides a framework for thinking through opportunities for teaching:

  • Why should I teach?
  • What could I teach?
  • Whom could I teach and where could I teach them?

Here’s my current thoughts on these questions:

Why should I teach:
Hmm, slam dunk on this one: to learn something more deeply. There’s also the benefit of smartening up the old CV and the dazzling prospect of additional income.

What could I teach:
My specialization is in access services librarianship, which is enjoying a renaissance within the academic library community. I’d love to share my experiences in the user services side of librarianship.

Whom could I teach and where could I teach them:
I’m still working on this one. I’ve framed out a syllabus for a graduate class on access services, and am slowly working on pitching it to a graduate program.

What about you? What could you teach?

Megan Hartline


Megan Hartline (@awrybrarian on Twitter) is a librarian in Denver, Colorado. In addition to librarianship, Megan's background is in nonprofit leadership. She would love to visit your library to talk about management, workflows, or customer service.

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