Javier Leiva – Blog


Focusing on What Gets Us Moving

I delivered three STEAM programs this summer: Robots and Drones, Forensic Science, and Space Science. They took a lot of preparation, and they went great with the kids, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied because I did not follow the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) when setting them up. This is from the NGSS website:

There are three distinct and equally important dimensions to learning science. These dimensions are combined to form each standard—or performance expectation—and each dimension works with the other two to help students build a cohesive understanding of science over time.

I didn’t follow the standards because I was not familiar enough with them, and didn’t have a lot of time available before the summer. I thought I’d go with my experience, and I would work on it after the programs and before preparing the next ones.

That after came today. This evening I had a consulting session with Tiffany, from the Portland Metro STEM Partnership and Stem Beyond Schools. It was a short session, but it changed my approach to NGSS completely. She sent me the appendix F of the standards and told me to focus on this list of eight practices:

1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
2. Developing and using models
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
7. Engaging in argument from evidence
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

The more practices an activity meets, the most you are complying with the standards. From there, she told me, you will be able to go further until you completely master NGSS.

I have started to review the delivered activities with that approach, and it turns out I have been quite compliant with the standards without being aware of it (that experience, not so bad it seems). The best part: now I know how to keep improving until all my activities meet most of the practices.

Too often, the issues seem more complicated than they are. We tend to look at the whole thing, which looks unfathomable, instead of focusing on smaller actionable parts that get us moving. I am usually pretty good at adopting a practical approach, and often I help other people overcome this issue, but it happened to me this time. Fortunately, there it was Tiffany to show me the way.

When the Blog Was My Learning Tool

I discovered The Bottom Line in Clinical Outreach: Stepping out of the Library (Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 20;2, 133-145). From its About page:

It documents clinical questions from Internal Medicine’s resident reports and faculty-led case conferences […]

The mission of The Bottom Line is to support the educational activities of the residents by directing them to evidence and background information in response to questions raised during the reports and case conferences.

I believe it is a good library product: it provides answers to clinical questions, but it also keeps a record of them that can be shared and recovered later (by the same people, or by others looking for the same topics).

But that is not the only reason I liked bumping into The Bottom Line. The other one is that it reminds me of how blogs helped me 14 and more years ago when I attended presentations. I took notes while listening to the presenters, later enriched those notes with my thoughts and additional resources, and tried to make sense to all of it by creating new content. That was undoubtedly an excellent learning method.

But then, Twitter came, and most of us allowed it to drag us to the world of the ephemeral. I like how TMO puts it on Offline Journal Thoughts (or, “On (My) Writing”):

[…] I discovered Twitter. And that’s where a lot of my thoughts, and ideas, and emotions, and everything else ended up for over a decade. Mid-2009 to September 2019. Wasted, as far as I am concerned.

Twitter is useful in many ways, and waste may be excessive, but I feel pretty identified with what that quote conveys. It makes me miss that time, for sure, and I wish I could recover to some extent that activity that was so great to reflect and learn. I don’t know; this text might be a shy attempt at it.

Increasing Awareness about the Medical Library and Building its Reputation

I am re-reading Elizabeth Burns’ book Being a solo librarian in healthcare: pivoting for 21st Century healthcare information delivery. She talks about how librarians need to be proactive to make better contributions and be more useful, and I connect this idea with the thought that proactivity is also one of the best ways to be noticed. Because not everybody at a health system or a hospital knows there is a library available (when there is) and what can it do for them. They are not to blame: it’s the librarian’s job to be noticed and make ourselves useful (or even better: essential).

When I think about it, the expressions increasing awareness and building reputation come to my mind. Let me use another four words to explain my thoughts (alphabetical order):

  • Networking
  • Proactivity
  • Reliability
  • Velocity

Medical librarians need to anticipate to caregivers’ needs as a way to help, but also to show them skills they may not expect, but from which they can benefit a lot [proactivity]. We need to do that with regular patrons, but we should also be continually looking for new opportunities to make ourselves known and be perceived as an asset. That means stepping out of the library and taking an active part in events, committees, and other situations [networking + proactivity].

If all that is done, requests will come: literature searches, training, article requests, or others. We will have been noticed. Now, it will be time to build trust by answering these requests in a fast and satisfactory way. Maybe we won’t have all the answers, but we should provide the best possible solution to every need, and promptly [reliability + velocity].