Four Ways to Be a Transformative Teacher
Do you view yourself as a teacher, instructor, or educator when you are assigned a class and students arrive? Do you want to accomplish more with your students or are you merely performing a function in your role? Do you think the methods of teaching you use now have a transformative effect, or would you like to change the students you teach in some way?
An individual enters the field of education as a profession, either full-time at a conventional educational establishment or as an adjunct (or part-time) teacher. Research, teaching, and scholarly publication are likely the responsibilities of a traditional full-time professor. An adjunct instructor may instruct at an online school, community college, or traditional college. A facilitator, instructor, or professor are all terms used to describe individuals who instruct students in higher education. This is important because there is no job title that includes the word “educator.”
Does this imply that any individual who works as a teacher, professor, instructor, adjunct, or faculty member is also an educator? Through my work in higher education, I’ve learned that everyone in one of these roles, whether in undergraduate or graduate degree courses, is trying their best to teach and guide learning. However, an educator is someone who strives to lead a learning process that is transformational and goes beyond the role of teacher.
An In-Depth Look at What a Teacher Is.
Traditional primary education typically involves teaching. Children are taught what to learn and how to learn in these classes, which are led by the teacher. The expert in charge of the learning process is the instructor. A teacher is a highly trained individual who works to stimulate students’ minds. Traditional college classrooms, in particular, continue to employ this method of teacher-led instruction in higher education. Students are accustomed to this format due to their experience in primary education, and the teacher continues to deliver information from the front and center of the class. Students will study to pass the required examinations or complete other required learning activities while the instructor imparts knowledge through a lecture.
Instructors are employed as subject matter experts with advanced content or subject matter expertise in higher education settings. Typically, holding a certain number of degree hours in the subject being taught is one of the job requirements. In conventional universities, teachers may also be referred to as professors; these positions necessitate a terminal degree and additional research requirements. Teaching is meant to refer to someone who directs, tells, and instructs students throughout the learning process in each of these roles. The students are under the authority of the instructor or professor, and they must abide by the instructions.
The basics of what an educator is.
To begin comprehending the role of an educator, I would like you to consider some fundamental definitions. Giving instruction is referred to as “education.” The term “educator” refers to a skilled educator who provides instruction; likewise, “teaching” is connected to explaining things. These definitions have been expanded so that the term “educator” includes a person who is skilled at teaching, has highly developed academic skills, and knows both subject matter and adult education principles.
• Well-versed in instruction: An educator should be proficient in the art of classroom instruction, knowing which instructional strategies work and which facilitation skills need to be improved.
Methods that bring course materials to life by adding relevant context and encouraging students to learn through class discussions and other learning activities are developed by experienced educators. Because every interaction provides an opportunity for teaching, instruction also encompasses all interactions with students and all forms of communication.
• Excellent academic abilities: Strong academic skills are also necessary for an educator, and writing skills are at the top of that list. This necessitates the educator’s meticulous attention to detail, which must encompass all forms of messages conveyed. Anyone who teaches online classes, where words represent the teacher, must be able to demonstrate strong academic skills.
The application of appropriate formatting guidelines in accordance with the school’s style is another one of the critical academic skills. For instance, numerous schools have adopted the APA formatting guidelines as the standard for working with sources and formatting papers. If the writing style has not been mastered, an educator cannot adequately guide students and provide meaningful feedback.
• Extensive Knowledge: An educator must develop a knowledge base that includes knowledge of adult education principles in addition to their subject matter expertise as it relates to the course or courses they are teaching. Despite having all of the required credit hours on their transcripts, many educators I know may not have extensive teaching experience. If they take the time to read the required textbook or materials and find ways to apply it to current practices in the field, this will still allow them to teach the course.
A lot of schools hire adjuncts based on their work experience rather than their knowledge of adult learning principles. When I have worked with faculty members who have studied adult education theory, the majority of the time, they did so as part of ongoing professional development. Understanding how adults learn was my goal when I chose a major for my doctoral degree; I wanted to change careers and become an educator.
Four Ways to Be a Transformative Teacher
I don’t believe that many teachers think about the need to switch careers and become educators on purpose. When a non-traditional college professor is hired to teach a class, they frequently learn from experience what works well in the classroom. Classroom audits and recommendations for ongoing professional development are likely.
As they look for resources that can help them improve their teaching methods, the typical instructor will eventually become an educator. However, I have worked with numerous adjunct online instructors who do not believe there is a need to develop as educators because they rely solely on their subject matter expertise.
There are methods that can be used by anyone who wants to become an engaging and transformative educator.
#1 Strategy: Develop your instructional practice to transform.
While any educator can grow over time in the classroom, it is possible to be deliberate about this development. You can learn new techniques, strategies, and practices from a wide range of professional groups, publications, workshops, webinars, and online resources. Additionally, there are social media websites like LinkedIn and Twitter that make it possible for educators around the world to share ideas and resources.
You can also measure your effectiveness by reflecting on yourself. I’ve found that right after a class has ended is the best time to review my teaching methods. At that point, I can evaluate my strategies and ascertain whether or not they were successful. Even if all of the student surveys submitted at the end of the course were positive, reviewing them can provide insight into my students’ perspectives. When students are either very happy or very unhappy with the course, they typically respond to the survey. Regardless, I can learn something about what my students went through in class.
#2 Strategy: Change by improving your academic abilities.
Based on my experience working with online faculty development, I am aware that this is an area in which many educators could benefit. However, until it is noted in classroom audits, it is frequently regarded as a low priority. An educator’s ability to provide students with comprehensive feedback will be hindered if they lack academic writing skills.
Online resources or workshops can be used to help students improve their academic skills. Faculty workshops are a useful tool for self-improvement at many online schools I’ve worked for.
#3 Strategy: Develop your subject matter expertise to transform.
Every educator has expertise in their field that they can use. The problem, though, is keeping this knowledge up to date as you teach for years. The best advice I can give you is to look for resources that let you read and learn about the latest research, thinking, and best practices in your field.
Because students are able to quickly determine whether you appear to be up to date with your knowledge or outdated and out of touch, this is essential to your instructional practice. As knowledge rapidly evolves in many fields, even the use of required textbooks or resources does not guarantee that you are utilizing the most recent information.
#4 Strategy: Change by expanding your understanding of adult education.
Learning about adult learning theories, principles, and practices is the final step or strategy I can suggest. You can research concepts like critical thinking, andragogy, self-directed learning, transformational learning, learning styles, motivation, and cognition if you are not familiar with the fundamentals.
My advice is to look for and read online sources about higher education, then choose a subject that interests you and do more research on it. I’ve found that the more I read about subjects I like, the more interested I get in continuing my professional development. What you will probably discover is that what you learn will improve all aspects of your instructional practice and have a positive impact on your work as an educator.
A commitment to turn this into a career rather than a job is the first step in becoming an educator or someone who is extremely involved in the process of assisting students in learning. I have a plan for how I want to get involved in each class I teach, and I’d like you to follow my lead. You might find it helpful to set career-long teaching goals and tie your performance in the classroom to those goals.