LD@3: Emotional Labor of Teaching Information Literacy: Impact, struggle, and strategies

04 May 2020 - 04 May 2020

Presenter(s): Lorraine Evans and Karen Sobel

Session recording: View recording

Slides from the session: Click this link to download the slides from this session


The catch-phrase, “teaching is hard” doesn’t begin to explain the teaching experience. You are well prepared for every class with a well-crafted lesson plan, engaging learning activities and a spiffy presentation. The hard part isn’t the teaching. It’s the feeling you might have before or after a class, the lack of sleep on a Sunday night, and the end of semester exhaustion or sense of relief. What we cannot control or anticipate takes a toll, even when the outcome of the work was satisfying and successful. Teaching comes with unknowns, surprises, joy, and unfortunately, hostility. The one-shot library class can be particularly amorphous. Our work in the classroom impacts multiple constituents, the students, the course instructor, and the library organization. This workshop will dig into the concept of emotional labor for instruction librarians. As a psychological construct, emotional labor has scales and measurements, and a body of research. In spite of this, there has been little conversation about the multiple and mostly invisible variables contributing to the emotional labor of library instruction. Cross-disciplinary approaches enhance our understanding, but solutions or adaptations need to be specific to our unique environment and ourselves as individuals.

In this interactive presentation we will explore what constitutes emotional labor in our work, specifically in our classroom teaching and one-on-one work with students. We will examine how age, gender and diversity may impact our emotional labor. We will discuss ways to recognize and appreciate not only the negative aspects but also the positive. The literature on emotional labor offers some contextual understanding and strategies for dealing with emotional labor. We will explore how these may be useful to our work environment and how these strategies might be adapted. Participants will come away with an understanding of their own emotional labor, how they can mitigate it, and work to change that which triggers it.


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