As educators, our first priority is to promote learning (Jones 2015). When we understand and accept this as our ultimate goal, we will find strategies for our teaching that will support.A� Jones (2015) offers strategies for online teaching that can encourage learning. I propose that his list, with some items slightly modified, can be used even in the traditional classroom:
- Allow students the opportunity to see you and get to know you.A�Outline the expectations you have of students so they understand them and convey your expertise on the topic you are teaching .
- Open up multiple lines of communication.A�Enhanced communication with students fosters a more comfortable classroom and promotes learning. Makes sure students can reach you and can ask questions without fear of feeling a�?stupida�?.
- Err on the side of empathy.A�Recognize that students, particularly adult students, have other life events occurring during the course. Work/life/school balance is a challenge for adult learners. Use your position to improve the balance, not exacerbate the situation. Can we extend every deadline, make every possible accommodation, or provide an advantage to somewhat lazy students or procrastinators? No, and we should not, but we can replace harshness and severity with a persona thata��s a bit more warm and caring. If the true goal of the instructor is promoting learning and stimulating the gaining of new knowledge, allowing an overwhelmed student another day to submit an assignment will not be an impediment.
- Identify underachievers.A�Every class has a few high-achieversa��they are easy to recognize, are self-motivated, and can move through the course material and assignments with little instructor assistance. Underachievers require more instructor attention, support, time, and effort. Anyone can enter a zero in the grade book for an uncompleted assignment. An ordinary teacher follows up with the student to find out why the assignment was not submitted. An engaged instructor has the underachieving student(s) identified and flagged prior to assignment deadline, has touched base with the student(s) to ensure assignment clarity, and has let the student(s) know how to proceed. Can we save them all from failing or earning a below-average grade? Certainly not, but hopefully we have tried to instill the value of learning the topical concept. Should we devote the vast majority of our time and efforts to underachievers, providing little attention to high-achievers? No, balancing our time is essential to creating a quality learning environment for all students. However, we should never assume that underachievers are not worthy of an additional measure of determination on our part to help them gain the learning skills required to be successful.
Jones, R.C. (2015). Promoting Learning: The Instructora��s Main Mission or a Secondary Duty?A�Faculty Focus. Accessed from:A�http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/promoting-learning-the-instructors-main-missioa��