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On March 27, 2018, the Crandall University student lounge played host to 50 Education students and 25 retired teachers. Gathered around the room, pairs of students found themselves in deep discussion with these seasoned retired teachers – ready to share their wisdom with those who would carry on their mission of educating young minds.
The students had organized this Human Library as part of an assignment on Action Research for a class with Dr. Wendy Bokhorst-Heng. A Human Library is a way for people to reach out and communicate with individuals in their community, and in this case, those individuals were experienced educators. Over the course of two hours, ‘Readers’ (students) had the opportunity to ‘sign out’ various ‘Books’ (teachers) for approximately 15 minutes at a time.
As a research project, the students responsible for organizing the event wanted to investigate how prepared pre-service teachers feel as they look to begin their careers in the classroom. They chose a Human Library as a way to increase their self-efficacy, based on the belief that learning from a variety of experienced educators would have a positive impact on how prepared they felt for their chosen career path.
Success was measured through a Self-Efficacy Survey taken both before and after the event, giving students the opportunity to measure the impact that it had on their self-efficacy.
As the discussions progressed and the time passed, it was evident that this was more than just a research project for everyone involved. Students who were between ‘readings’ were poring over bios, examining the wealth of experience assembled in the room, and trying to decide which ‘book’ to read next.
Time passed quickly, with many being so engrossed in conversation that they had to be reminded of the 15-minute time limit. Other ‘readers’ were eager to sign out the same ‘book’. It became clear that these were not superficial discussions happening at the tables around the room.
The ‘books’ themselves were more than willing to participate in the event and to interact with the students. Some came from as far away as Sussex and Amherst, excited to pass on their experiences and continue to leave a legacy in education.