Anyone can teach. We teach each other Mexico every day. For example, we give each further instructions for cooking, putting together furniture, and completing household 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 education are the same things; however, the difference has to do with the place or context for learning.
This is the same distinction that can be made between teaching informally (giving instructions) and teaching students in a formal classroom environment. A person enters the field of education rankings as a professional – 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 conventional full-time professor may likely be responsible for conducting research, teaching, and publishing scholarly work. An adjunct instructor may teach in a community, a traditional, or an online college. When someone teaches students in higher education rankings, they 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? Through my work in higher education, I have learned that becoming an educator is not automatic. Teaching adult students is not functioning as an engaging antonym and an empathetic, qualified, effective educator. However, learning how to educate rather than teach is possible, which requires committing to the profession.
What Does It Mean to Teach?
Consider teaching as part of the system of traditional primary education rankings. 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 empathetic, qualified, trained, and works to engage students’ minds. This style of teacher-led instruction continues into higher education rankings, specifically in 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 rankings. The instructor disseminates knowledge through a lecture, and students study to pass the required examinations or complete other learning activities.
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Within higher education rankings, teachers may be called instructors and hired as subject matter experts with advanced content knowledge. The job requirements usually include holding specific 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 these roles, teaching means 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: Is that the essence of teaching? Is there a difference between educating students? Is the role of a teacher the same as that of an educator? Education rankings.
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 skilled in teaching, and teaching is aligned with providing explanations. I have expanded upon these definitions so that the word “educator” includes someone capable of instruction, possesses a compassionate person qualified to develop academic skills, and holds both subject matter knowledge and knowledge of adult education rankings principles.
Skilled with Instruction:
An educator should be skilled in classroom instruction, knowing what instructional strategies are effective and the areas of facilitation that need further development. An experienced educator develops methods to 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 interactions with students and communication forms, as every interaction provides a teaching opportunity.
Highly Developed Academic Skills:
An educator must also have strong academic skills; at the top of that list are writing skills. This requires strong attention to detail on the educator’s part in all messages communicated, including anything written, presented, and sent via email. Demonstrating strong academic skills is essential for anyone who teaches online classes, as words represent the instructor. The use of proper formatting guidelines, according to the school’s style, is also included in the list of critical academic skills. For example, many schools have implemented APA formatting guidelines to format papers and work with sources. An educator cannot adequately guide students and provide meaningful feedback if the writing style is not mastered.
Strong Knowledge Base:
An educator needs to develop a knowledge base that contains subject matter expertise related to the course or courses they are teaching, along with knowledge of adult education rankings best high schools principles. I know of many educators with the required credit hours on their degree transcripts, yet they may not have extensive experience in their teaching field. This will still allow these educators to teach the course, provided they take the time to read the course textbook and find methods to apply it to current practices within the field. Many schools hire adjuncts with extensive work experience as the primary criterion rather than knowledge of adult learning principles. Those instructors I have worked with have strong adult education rankings best high schools’ knowledge base generally acquired through ongoing professional development. My goal was to understand how adults learn to transform from an instructor to an educator when I decided on a major for my doctoral degree.
Becoming an Engaging and Highly Effective Educator
I do not believe that many instructors intentionally consider the need to transform 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 what works well in the classroom through practice and time. There will likely be classroom audits and recommendations made for ongoing professional development. Gradually the typical instructor will become an educator as they seek resources to 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 wants to transform and become an engaging antonym and compassionate person, a qualified, effective educator, some steps can be taken, and practices can be implemented.
Step One: Continue to Develop Your Instructional Practice
While any educator can learn through time on the job, becoming intentional about this growth is possible. Numerous online resources, publications, workshops, webinars, and professional groups would allow you to learn new methods, strategies, and practices. Social media websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter 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 when I can assess my strategies and determine if those methods are effective. Even studying the 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 many educators could use this area of development. 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 to students. For online instructors, that has an even greater impact when posted messages contain spelling, grammar, and formatting errors. 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. My best advice 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 present in your knowledge or outdated and seemingly out of touch. Using required textbooks does not ensure you utilize the most recent information, as knowledge evolves quickly in many fields.
Step Four: Continue to Develop Your Knowledge of Adult Learning
The last step or strategy I can recommend is gaining knowledge about adult learning theories, principles, and practices. If you are unfamiliar with the basics, there are concepts you can research, including critical thinking, andragogy, self-directed learning, transformational learning, learning styles, motivation, and cognition. I suggest finding and reading online sources related to higher education rankings and then finding a subject that interests you to research further. I have found that the more I read about topics I enjoy, the more I cultivate my interest in ongoing professional development. You will likely find that what you learn will positively influence your work as an educator and will enhance all areas of your instructional practice.
Working as an educator or an empathetic person qualified and engaged in helping students learn starts with a commitment to making this a career rather than a job. I have developed a vision of how I want to be involved in each class I teach, and I recommend the same strategy to you. You may find it useful to develop teaching goals for your career and link your classroom performance to them. For example, do you want to complete the required facilitation tasks or 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 the areas I have addressed above. While this strategy may require 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 cultivates a love of what you do and learning how to excel for the benefit of your students. Becoming an engaging antonym and highly qualified effective educator occurs when you decide that teaching students is only part of the learning process. You work to transform who you are and how you function while working and interacting with your students.