Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Research Is Over: My Journey as EE Coordinator

Imagine my relief when the hard copies of our seniors' Extended Essays (EE) were sent to the IB examiners last week. Finally, I can ease up a bit; remove myself from the entire process; and think of more library work. You know, the usual ones.

I like moments like this. Thinking of one thing while doing something else. How can that be possible? I don't know. I just find myself effective when, for example, I am cataloging a bundle of books, and my mind wanders off to a standardization of citation conventions or itemizing a set of skills on Information Literacy (IL) and research for teacher training in the summer. It is the same at home. While cooking sinigang or mongo, ideas or a format for a current writing project seeps into my consciousness. Oh, I digress.

Now back to the end of the journey.

I have been the EE Coordinator for two consecutive academic years. It is not an easy assignment. I took and accepted the task because, as a librarian, I know I can help high school students better their research skills. I know my IL. I do research. I read.

It wasn't a walk in the park.

Research skills and IL, to be effective must be integrated with content and applied within a context. Meaningful research is experiential. It is a process too, so a model of research helps the young researcher push pencils to work on meeting deadlines. This kind of thought process is not applicable to all learners though. There are those who fall through the cracks, therefore, a cooperative and collaborative approach to supervising teenagers in research is essential. Research supervisors are the initial go-to people of students, but the librarian is another teacher whom students can trust and work with.

Looking for sources is another challenge. I often wish that the Philippines has the intellectual research structure of Singapore. But. The upside of living in a third world country is that, you have no choice but to be resourceful. By this,  I mean many things. Some cuts corners. Others adhere to the process. Those who know better practice academic honesty the best they could.

Another concept I wish to emphasize with our students (for next year) is that research is a conversation. Reading and writing are the tools employed in this conversation. Teenagers today read very little. Or if they do, it is shallow and superficial. Thus, they have difficulty applying reading strategies in the content areas. Changing reading stances are something they need to learn as well. More strategies in reading must be taught. As for the writing, more models to read and writing prompts to do in between classes.

How can these techniques be done? Teachers and the librarian must work together. This is for another post!

Journeying with our seniors this year in their EE has been mentally stressful. I think with them and, yes, I worry. Am I doing too much? Am I doing too little, leaving them in the dark? The guides are there though. I bring them back always, to universal principles of knowledge creation and inquiry. Often, a good research question is tested when a student and I sit down and sort through sources and process when he or she is at a crossroad or at a road block. Struggles and all, it is a learning experience for me too.

My students teach me to listen more. To look at their perspective and their goals. I am a companion; a cheerleader; a coach; and if need be, an adult who shows them the consequences of their actions and what may happen. For after all, I have been one acquainted with the night (Frost).

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