Do You Know How to Be an Engaging and Highly Effective Educator?

Anyone can teach. We teach each other every day. For example, we give instructions to each other for such things as cooking, putting together furniture, and completing household other tasks. However, teaching someone is different than the process of educating someone. Consider the difference between informal learning and formal learning. An example of informal learning would be following a recipe to learn how to cook. In contrast, formal learning occurs within a classroom and usually is accompanied by evaluation and assessment. It may seem that teaching and educating are the same thing; however, the difference has to do with the place or context for learning.

This is the same distinction can be made for teaching informally (giving instructions) and teaching students in a formal classroom environment. A person enters the field of education as a profession – either full time in traditional academic institutions or as an adjunct (or part time) instructor. The reasons vary for why someone would choose to be in the classroom. A traditional full time professor may likely be responsible for conducting research, teaching, and publishing scholarly work. An adjunct instructor may teach in a community college, traditional college, or an online school. When someone teaches students in higher education he or she may be called a facilitator, instructor, or professor. This is important as there isn’t a job with the word educator in the title.

The questions I would like to answer include: What then does it mean to be an educator? Does it signify something different than the assigned job title? What I have learned through my work in higher education is that becoming an educator is not an automatic process. Everyone who is teaching adult students is not functioning as an engaging and highly effective educator. However, it is possible to learn how to educate rather than teach and that requires making a commitment to the profession.

What Does It Mean to Teach?

Consider teaching as part of the system of traditional, primary education. Those classes are teacher-led and children as students are taught what and how to learn. The teacher is considered to be the expert and directs the learning process. A teacher is someone who is highly trained and works to engage the minds of his or her students. This style of teacher-led instructional continues into higher education, specifically traditional college classrooms. The teacher still stands at the front and center of the class delivering information, and students are used to this format because of their experience in primary education. The instructor disseminates knowledge through a lecture and students study to pass the required examinations or complete other required learning activities.

Within higher education, teachers may be called instructors and they are hired as subject matter experts with advanced content knowledge. The job requirements usually include holding a specific number of degree hours in the subject being taught. Teachers may also be called professors in traditional college classes, and those positions require a terminal degree with additional research requirements. For all of these roles, teaching is meant to signify someone who is guiding the learning process by directing, telling, and instructing students. The instructor or professor is in charge, and the students must comply and follow as directed. Here is something to consider: If that is the essence of teaching, is there a difference between that and educating students? Is the role of a teacher the same as that of an educator?

What Does It Mean to be an Educator?

Consider some basic definitions to begin with as a means of understanding the role of an educator. The word “education” refers to giving instruction; “educator” refers to the person who provides instruction and is someone who is skilled in teaching; and teaching is aligned with providing explanations. I have expanded upon these definitions so that the word “educator” includes someone who is skilled with instruction, possesses highly developed academic skills, and holds both subject matter knowledge and knowledge of adult education principles.

Skilled with Instruction: An educator is someone who should be skilled in the art of classroom instruction, knowing what instructional strategies are effective and the areas of facilitation that need further development. An experienced educator develops methods that will bring course materials to life by adding relevant context and prompting students to learn through class discussions and other learning activities. Instruction also includes all of the interactions held with students, including all forms of communication, as every interaction provides an opportunity for teaching.

Highly Developed Academic Skills: An educator must also have strong academic skills and at the top of that list are writing skills. This requires strong attention to detail on the part of the educator and in all forms of messages communicated, including anything written, presented, and sent via email. The ability to demonstrate strong academic skills is especially important for anyone who is teaching online classes as words represent the instructor.

The use of proper formatting guidelines, according to the style prescribed by the school, is also included in the list of critical academic skills. For example, many schools have implemented APA formatting guidelines as the standard for formatting papers and working with sources. An educator cannot adequately guide students and provide meaningful feedback if the writing style has not been mastered.

Strong Knowledge Base: An educator needs to develop a knowledge base that contains subject matter expertise, as related to the course or courses they are teaching, along with knowledge of adult education principles. I know of many educators who have the required credit hours on their degree transcripts, yet they may not have extensive experience in the field they teach. This will still allow these educators to teach the course, provided that they take time to read the course textbook and find methods of applying it to current practices within the field.

Many schools hire adjuncts with extensive work experience as the primary criteria, rather than knowledge of adult learning principles. Those instructors I have worked with who do have a strong adult education knowledge base generally acquired it through ongoing professional development. That was my goal, when I decided on a major for my doctoral degree, to understand how adults learn so that I could transform from an instructor to an educator.

Becoming an Engaging and Highly Effective Educator

I do not believe that many instructors intentionally consider the need to make a 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 well in the classroom. There will likely be classroom audits and recommendations made for ongoing professional development. Gradually the typical instructor will become an educator as they seek out resources to help improve their teaching practices. However, I have worked with many adjunct online instructors who rely on their subject matter expertise alone and do not believe there is a reason to grow as an educator. For anyone who would like to make the transformation and become an engaging and highly effective educator, there are steps that can be taken and practices that can be implemented.

Step One: Continue to Develop Your Instructional Practice

While any educator can learn through time on the job, it is possible to become intentional about this growth. There are numerous online resources, publications, workshops, webinars, and professional groups that would allow you to learn new methods, strategies, and practices. There are also social media websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter that allow for the exchange of ideas and resources within a global community of educators.

You can also utilize self-reflection as a means of gauging your effectiveness. I have found that the best time to review my instructional practice occurs immediately after a class concludes. That is a time when I can assess the strategies I have used and determine if those methods were effective. Even reviewing end of course student surveys may provide insight into the perspective of my students.

Step Two: Continue to Develop Your Academic Skills

I know from my work with online faculty development that this is an area of development that many educators could use. However, it is often viewed as a low priority – until it is noted in classroom audits. If an educator has weak academic writing skills, it will interfere with their ability to provide comprehensive feedback for students. For online instructors, that has an even 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 online schools I have worked for offer faculty workshops and this is a valuable self-development resource.

Step Three: Continue to Develop Your Subject Matter Expertise

Every educator has subject matter expertise that they can draw upon. However, the challenge is keeping that knowledge current as you continue to teach for several years. The best advice I can offer is to find resources that allow you to read and learn about current thinking, research, and best practices in your chosen field. This is essential to your instructional practice as students can ascertain whether you appear to be current in your knowledge, or outdated and seemingly out of touch. Even the use of required textbooks does not ensure that you are utilizing the most current information as knowledge evolves quickly in many fields.

Step Four: Continue to Develop Your Knowledge of Adult Learning

The last step or strategy that I can recommend is to gain knowledge about adult learning theories, principles, and practices. If you are 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 suggestion is to find and read online sources related to higher education and then find a subject that interests you to research further. I have found that the more I read about topics I enjoy, the more I am cultivating my interest in ongoing professional development. What you will likely find is that what you learn will have a positive influence on your work as an educator and will enhance all areas of your instructional practice.

Working as an educator, or someone who is highly engaged in the process of helping students learn, starts with a commitment to make this a career rather than a job. I have developed a vision related to how I want to be involved in each class I teach and I recommend the same strategy for you. You may find it useful to develop teaching goals for your career and link your classroom performance to those goals. For example, do you want to complete the required facilitation tasks or would you rather put in the additional time necessary to create nurturing class conditions?

After developing a vision and teaching goals, you can create a professional development plan to prompt your learning and growth in all of the areas I have addressed above. While this strategy may require an investment of time, it is helpful to remember that we always make time for whatever we believe is most important. Being an educator is not sustaining a focus on job functions, rather it is cultivating a love of what you do and learning how to excel for the benefit of your students. Becoming an engaging and highly effective educator occurs when you decide that teaching students is only part of the learning process, and you work to transform who you are and how you function, while working and interacting with your students.

What Happened To World-Class Universities From The Superpowers Of The 20th Century?

Singapore did something to combat the rise of China and that is why they are where they are today. They have positioned themselves as a financial center and an educational center, but they are only a pimple on the very edge of Asia. Their rise is partly due to the fall of the 20th century superpowers of the USA, Europe and Japan. If these super powers were not drowning in debt then Singapore would not be as important in the world as it is today. It is very possible that Shanghai and Singapore will be the leading financial centers in the world very soon.

In the past it seems foreign universities flocked to set up in Singapore, but now I think the flocking is to China. They have to flock away from the dying 20th century superpowers to survive. And the only places to go are the far east, the near east, the middle east, the eastern bloc and a few out of the way places that no one wants to go to. Now Russia could be the next education center competing with China, or more likely they will be working together.

When you have to learn Mandarin and Russian to go to university then the balance of power is complete.

If America keeps finding oil and natural gas on their soil and Europe does the same we could wave goodbye to the Middle East as an up and coming education center, where I think education is free.

Free education could have been the start of the demise of education in the west. When the government pays, the price goes up.

In the dying 20th century superpowers, universities lived of government funding and government guaranteed student loans. So the price of education kept increasing, and that has priced them out of the market place. Now if you want an education it is cheaper to leave the dying 20th century superpowers, except Germany, and go to the East. There you can learn the language of the future as well as get a degree. And if you play it right you can get a scholarship from their government, or your government as is the case in NZ.

Then you can stay on and work in one of the 21st century superpowers.

Now the biggest change to hit mankind since the printing press or fire for that matter, is heading to a university near you. And when it gets there, change is the word. Will the universities of the 20th century upgrade or downsize, or go extinct to accommodate the new generation. The generation who have been brought up in front of a screen, in cyber space. The generation who can get what they want at the click of a mouse, or the touch of a screen. Are they going to go to a physical campus or a virtual campus? Are their internet friends who they have never met going to influence them to go to a virtual campus. Or will their classmates from school drag them off to a physical campus. Only time will tell.

http://www.dcl.niu.edu/index.php/labs/virtual-world-lab/124-niu-glidden-campus-in-second-life

MOOCs are an introduction to courses at a physical university, but they are also an introduction to the virtual university world of the future. And they introduce the MOOCers to what they can do in cyber space. How many MOOCers will now attempt an online university instead of going to a physical campus. The change MOOCs are inflicting on the future hasn’t got here yet, not surprising they have only been around for a couple of years. Give them time.

Now with the after affects of the 2007 economic crisis still with us. Where lots of graduates still haven’t got jobs, maybe the mindset of get into university at any cost is no longer relevant. And cost is the factor and so is the major. So where can you get a world class education at a price you can afford. Try going to the East or cyberspace. It is still cheaper to go to the east now, but that might change as the internet generation comes of age. Also as universities have priced themselves out of the market place and the half-life of what you learn at university is getting shorter, why go to university. All you need is a diploma in a specific subject and you could get a job. Better still get the diploma while you are working. Not four years later and anything from $20,000 to over $100,000 in debt. And when companies accept MOOCs on a CV then education is free, anyway so far.

Jobs In A Box – Easy Career Classes That Pay Quick And Big

While most secure professions require many years of specialized education and hands-on experience to master workplace related tasks that earn a fair wage, many modern jobs are relatively easy to train for and can generate respectable incomes in short time. In truth, there are many 21st century vocations that can be learned in under a month of training, and in circumstances whereby required classes are either on-the-job and paid, or offered without charge, and often available locally online for free. And where related work openings are easy to secure in areas across the USA, and come with pay scales in the medium income range of what most American families earn ($40,000), then move upwards thereafter, with increased income and title advancements as short years pass – even when not supported by a college degree or decades of job experience – even right out of High School!

Sound too good to be true? It’s not!

Typically, and it is true that, training and vocational know-how trump all other topics when trying to impress potential employers. Firms who employ such high-focused individuals don’t mind to pay a reasonable wage to people who match the training sought, even when those job seekers have only limited workplace experience. That includes newly certified job candidates within job specialties whose class education included practical on-the-job intern or externship duties, or outright employment, even short-tenured employment, within a particular industry of choice. Such job candidates thereby match employers’ specific hiring needs. Many employers only hire job candidates with such specialized training. In other words, individuals with very specific job, industry or trade know-how that repeats within other similar workplace environments are in demand by employers.

Some of these specialized job titles may sound familiar to you, having heard them in the past on broadcast T.V. or cable or in radio commercials. These reliable vocations include jobs for: Legal Secretary, Office Administration jobs and Administrative Assistant jobs, and File Clerk openings, Medical Aide and other Health Assistant positions, and Culinary Arts oriented titles, such as Food Prep and Cook, Serve Staff, and Counter Clerks in the Fast Food sector, and Chef jobs or Shift Leader openings, and, of course, Retail and Sales jobs, at all levels to do with customer service jobs, sales clerk jobs, shift manager jobs, and to include allied retail employment such as auditing, merchandising, entry-level management, transportation and delivery, and many more.

Some of the training programs for these and other allied vocations are available online at no cost whatsoever to students, except to do the work at your own pace to completion. Other free and low-cost programs are found at local technology training centers and community colleges and city/county/state career centers, whereby classes are often melded within a workplace experience, by offering on-the-job internships that coincide with class-work. In some cases, such programs require additional fees for books/supplies and low-cost tuition.

Many High School and other local School District Career Centers offer short adult classes in some of these in-demand jobs, including basic machine shop jobs and manufacturing jobs training, assembly jobs, even design jobs of various types, especially in computer Help Desk job training, customer service and sales job basics, telemarketing jobs, bookkeeping jobs and accounting clerk jobs, and others. Even as some still believe it is still difficult to find a good job, thousands of High School graduates each year start $40,000-to-$50,000 per-year jobs the week after grad ceremonies, as a result of having been trained in some of job titles mentioned herein.

Wonder why you hear so much on T.V. and radio about, and read about in newspapers and magazines, of the job titles mentioned above? It’s because demand to hire individuals trained in those vocations will continue to grow for years to come, as confirmed by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you are trying to decide on a career choice, or a career change, that offers short training classes, quick employment at a growing rate of pay, and opportunities to advance – then re-read this article, then begin to research and plan your own career future.

GOOD LUCK IN YOUR JOB SEARCH.