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7 Personal Growth Questions Every Teacher Must Ask Themselves – Lee Watanabe-Crockett – Lee Watanabe Crockett

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Every teacher knows that consistently asking personal growth questions is part of the game in education. They exist in all shapes and sizes and are meant to challenge educators to meet and exceed professional goals. It’s for the good of themselves, their colleagues, and most of all their learners, that they devote themselves to this. You have enough to do already, so why make PD complicated?

Personal development goes hand in hand with professional development. It enhances it by ensuring we look deep within ourselves to discover the true motivations for why we do what we do, and what’s most important to us as teachers. Ultimately, these realizations drive us to excel for the benefit of our learners, and for the future of education.

By no means are we advocating that the 7 personal growth questions we’ve provided below are the be-all-end-all of what you can reflect on during your journey. What they will do is provide you with a baseline for developing your craft in your own way.

7 Personal Growth Questions for All Teachers

These personal growth questions are ones that are simple enough to ask yourself every day, while also complex enough to ponder deeply and critically whenever you have time. And no matter how busy you are, there is always time.

1. What is most important to me as a teacher?

This is the key to determining your professional development direction right here. What matters to you most about being a teacher? What kind of teacher do you want to be, and why? What are the biggest reasons you have for your choice?

Don’t fall into the trap of making this one about policy and educational doctrine. This is an introspective and emotional inquiry—perhaps even spiritual for many of you. Consider it carefully and, above all else, listen to your heart.

2. What takes me out of my comfort zone?

Progress happens in the face of overcoming challenges. But how do we constructively challenge ourselves if we can’t step away from feeling safe in our vocations? Do something that you’ve never done before—in your practice, in a relationship with a colleague, or what have you.

Think “what if …” and then act on it. If it makes you uncomfortable to consider or even scares you a little, you might be on to something.

3. How can I make sure I am learning every day?

Modeling lifelong learning is something every teacher must do for their learners. It comes through curiosity and a willingness to explore the unknown. Our learners benefit from our passion as educators when we display the same love for learning we want them to have when they leave us. How can you best do this every day?

4. What is the most amazing thing about me and how can I use it in my teaching?

Stop being modest—you’re awesome and you know it. So it’s time to let your learners know it too. Think about what you can do that no one else can. Recall a time when someone pointed out something remarkable about you that you’ve always taken for granted. “Wow, you really know how to _______.”

Are you good with humour? Are you highly creative with design and visuals? Are you able to use wisdom and compassion to turn any negative experience into a positive one? Are you an entertaining storyteller? What’s your special talent? And for crying out loud, why aren’t you making it part of your teaching?

5. What is the most important thing my learners need from me?

There is a simple and highly effective way to figure this one out: ask them. It also happens to be the only way. You don’t have to let yourself be afraid of the answers you get either, especially when you come from a place of heartfelt concern for your kids. So ask them what the need; they’ll surprise you and delight you, and they might even make you cry. Isn’t meaningful connection amazing?

6. How can I connect and communicate better with parents and colleagues?

Nothing changes you like perspective. As young and experienced teachers, we often do many things wrong. As parents, we also do things wrong. These moments present prime opportunities for teachers and parents to support each other and consistently bridge the communication gap.

In the end, nothing beats how parents and teachers can unite to solve problems and tackle issues together. The same is true for teachers who come together in the same way. What are the most proactive ways you can improve rapport with parents and colleagues to sustain a culture of support?

7. What am I going to start doing today to become a better teacher than I was yesterday?

You’ll find there is never a bad time to ponder this question. This doesn’t mean you’re not a fantastic teacher already; quite the opposite, in fact. It’s the idea that you are constantly looking for ways to improve that make you as incredible as you are. Everyone that’s a part of your life experience benefits from this.

Ask it as a personal reflection at the end of your day. Ask it at the beginning of your morning as a mediation. Ask it as you write in your daily journal. Ask it multiple times a day, even. Just make sure you ask it.

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

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7 Things I Always Try to Build into My Online Courses

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1. A welcome video

Everyone is always a little nervous at the beginning of a new semester, including the instructor. Help reduce some of that anxiety by creating a video to welcome students to the class. To quote my coworker, Josh, who’s done a lot of work with video: “Sprinkle that video with tidbits about things that make you human. If your cat jumps into your lap during the recording, don’t start over or delete that part. Introduce your cat.”

You only get one chance at making that first impression with your students. Invite your students to create a welcome video, too, and post them in a discussion board to start building connections.

2. An introduction video of the course

Along with the welcome video that I create, I always record a separate video that helps introduce the course content to the students. This usually covers an overview of the syllabus, course layout in the LMS, assignments and grading policy, contact information, important dates, and possibly a walkthrough of a specific learning module. I try and cover only the most important topics and not the fine details because I don’t want to overwhelm them when everything is brand new. Ease into it and allow the fine details to present itself when it’s time.

3. Consistent weekly updates and reminders

Build online courses with weekly video updates Whether I like it or not, this class is not the only important thing happening in my students’ lives. They may be taking other classes, have a full or part-time job, family obligations, and the list goes on. One way I try to keep students focused is by posting weekly announcements about what tasks need to be completed in the upcoming week. This announcement is typically a video (screen recording and webcam) of me checking in and walking through where we currently are in the course syllabus. I will point out what assignments are due, and answer any questions from students that came up during the prior week, so that everyone is getting the same response. Even though these weekly videos are only generally between five to seven minutes (or less), it’s a great way to keep that visual connection with students in an online learning environment.

Here’s a recent tweet from a former student sharing how being consistent with updates and reminders has been helpful.

4. Guest speakers and content experts

Having field experts join us to share their experiences and answer questions is definitely beneficial to the learning. My favorite way to do this is during synchronous live chats (we have at least five each semester). This is a time to not only connect and engage with each other, but to bring in content experts to share their knowledge. Students get the unique opportunity to hear directly from individuals in their field of study. It also provides them with a different perspective on the topics we’re discussing.

5. Meaningful feedback

I’ll be honest, this is one area where I need to improve. One of the biggest assignments during the course is submitting three separate mini-literature review blog posts. Students always do a great job with these, and I enjoy reading them. My goal every semester is to provide meaningful feedback on their work, and for these written pieces I’ve tried to include spoken/video feedback as well. Here is my process:When you build online courses, use video to give meaningful feedback on student assignments

  1. 1. Take a scrolling screen capture of their blog post (I use Snagit to do this, with its easy-to-use editing tools).
    2. Use editing tools to insert brief comments and highlight specific areas of the blog to provide more detailed spoken feedback later.
    3. Record the mocked-up image with the video capture tool and share my audio and visual feedback with the student.
    4. Share the video to Screencast, Google Drive, or another favorite hosting site, and send the link to the student, along with the mocked up image capture for reference.

Above is an animated gif (blurred, to protect student privacy) to show you what the blog post capture looks like after comments were added. Here is an example screenshot (also blurred for privacy), and a screenshot of the finished video providing my audio/visual feedback.

6. Let students lead

When I first started teaching online, I had a love/hate relationship with discussion boards. I actually still do in a way, but as I build online courses I’ve tried to make improvements to make them more meaningful and engaging. One thing I’ve tried is to require students to moderate a weekly discussion during the semester. These typically cover a chapter or two of the textbook, and students are each responsible for deciding how the chat is run. They will make the first post during their designated week, and will help guide and encourage the conversation.

Instead of having the discussion board last an entire week, I’ve tried targeting a few days (i.e. Wednesday – Friday) when everyone should be participating. This has definitely helped deter the typical ‘wait until the last day and post something’ tendency that has contributed to the love/hate relationship. It has also given the students a chance to experience moderating, or leading a discussion board instead of only participating. I’m always looking for more ways to improve the discussion board experience, so if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. Thank you in advance.

7. Participate in learning

One thing is for sure, and that is learning is constant. I think the best thing I can do for my students is to participate and support them in the learning process. I try and do this by staying active in our discussion boards, asking questions, and commenting on individual posts by students. When students email me questions, I often share the question and response (usually in a quick video) with everyone in the class, if they can all benefit from it. This also helps avoid getting asked the same questions multiple times. We learn together and all try to improve and grow for the next opportunity ahead.

Thank you for reading and I hope you found useful information to help build online courses. Reach out any time if I can help you, or if you have any advice for me. I will always welcome it.

 

Author

Ryan Eash

Ryan designs, implements, and maintains curriculum that helps educators create images and videos. An adjunct at Lenoir-Rhyne University, he teaches a fully online course in the Online Teaching and Instructional Design program. Prior to joining TechSmith in 2007, Ryan received his bachelor’s in elementary education from Indiana University, his master’s in instructional technology and design from East Carolina University, and taught for 10 years in elementary through higher education.

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