4 Strategies to Become a Transformative Educator
I don’t believe that many instructors deliberately consider the need to make the transformation from working as an instructor to functioning as an educator. When someone is hired to teach a class, someone other than a traditional college professor, they often learn through practice and time what works best in class. There will likely be a classroom audit and recommendations made for continuing professional development.
Gradually the typical instructor will become an educator as they seek resources to help improve their teaching practice. However, I have worked with many additional online instructors who rely on their subject matter expertise alone and don’t believe there is any reason to grow as an educator.
For anyone who wants to be an engaging and transformative educator, there are strategies that can be applied.
Strategy #1: Transform Through Developing Your Instructional Practices
While any educator can learn through time at work, it is possible to be intentional about this growth. There are many online resources, publications, workshops, webinars, and professional groups that allow you to learn new methods, strategies and practices. There are also social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter that allow the exchange of ideas and resources within a global community of educators.
You can also use self-reflection as a tool to measure your effectiveness. I have found that the best time to review my instructional practice occurs immediately after class. That’s when I can assess the strategies I’ve used and determine if they’re effective. Even reviewing end-of-course student surveys can provide insight into my students’ perspectives as to whether or not each submitted survey was positive. Students tend to submit survey responses either when they are happy or very unhappy about the course. Either way, I can learn something about what my students experience during class.
Strategy #2: Transform Through Developing Your Academic Skills
I know from my work with online faculty development this is a development area that many educators can use. However, it is often seen as a low priority until it is recorded in a classroom audit. If an educator has weak academic writing skills, it will impair his ability to provide comprehensive feedback to students.
For online instructors, this has a greater impact when posted messages contain errors with spelling, grammar, and formatting. The development of academic skills can be done through the use of online resources or workshops. Many of the online schools I work for offer faculty workshops and these are a valuable source of self-development.
Strategy #3: Transformation Through Developing Your Subject Matter Skills
Every educator has subject matter expertise they can take advantage of. The challenge, however, is to keep this knowledge up-to-date as you continue to teach for several years. The best advice I can offer is to find resources that will allow you to read and learn about current thinking, research, and best practices in your chosen field.
This is important for your instructional practice because students can easily tell if you seem up-to-date in your knowledge, or are out of date and seem out of date. Even the use of necessary textbooks or resources does not ensure that you take advantage of the most current information as knowledge develops rapidly in many fields.
Strategy #4: Transformation Through Developing Your Knowledge of Adult Learning
The final step or strategy I can recommend is to gain knowledge of adult learning theory, principles, and practice. If you’re not familiar with the basics, there are concepts you can research and include critical thinking, andragogy, self-directed learning, transformational learning, learning styles, motivation, and cognition.
My advice is to search and read online resources related to higher education and then find a subject that interests you to research further. I’ve found the more I read about topics I’m passionate about, the more I grow my interest in ongoing professional development. What you may find is that what you learn will have a positive influence on your work as an educator and it will improve all areas of your teaching practice.