One of the best attributes that I have as a teacher is the fact that I am flexible. To meet the needs of my students and each of my classes I will make adjustments that I need to during each lesson or unit. Most of my lessons involve active participation by the students and the inclusion of several different learning styles in one. I have found that one of the most important aspects of my teaching practice is reflection. Reflection allows me the ability to make the adjustments that are needed to better educate my students.
The main focal point for my classroom is to create a community of learners that are motivated to actively participate in their learning. I want students to enjoy the time they spend together online or face to face learning cooperatively with and from each other. The only way for this to happen is if students are expected to interact and be actively present in their learning. When students feel that they are a part of a real community of learners they will be more willing to take risks, challenge each other and openly discuss the content or their ideas. To create a community of learners it is important that I facilitate a safe learning environment that has established expectations, routines, and structure for students to follow. Students in my classroom will be pushed out of their comfort zones and into higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. To do this I must align my course objectives and my assessments to provide students the opportunity to discuss, create and reflect on what they are learning. Most of my assignments within my units focus on lessons that incorporate interaction, discussion, movement, collaboration, creation, and reflection. All important aspects of the learning process as a student or an adult.
The lack of instructor interaction face to face or online is going to have a negative impact on the students, their overall learning outcomes and the classroom experience. According to Swan, Garrison and Richardson (2009) “effective online learning, especially higher-order learning, requires the development of [a] community, and that such development is not a trivial challenge in the online environment.” It is important that educators are as actively involved as their students in their participation in the course to set the expectations for their students. If an instructor is not actively posting or involved in the course, neither will their students. In addition to being actively involved in the course, instructors must also remove as many barriers as possible prior to the start of the course.
It is important that the educator removes barriers associated with the development of a community online. Instructors need to analyze the accessibility of any technology, tools or LMS systems that they will use in the course before it is implemented. Making the LMS system easily accessible to navigate, communicate and receive necessary help between instructors and students is an important aspect of their interaction with the course and each other.
Using an accessible LMS system is not enough. Students need to not only be comfortable using the LMS but also have time to learn how to use it, the classroom expectations and get to know other members in the class. In a face to face classroom setting, it is easy for instructors to model expectations and be reactive to the situations that they encounter in class. Online instructors will have to be proactive and have available the needed instruction, announcement or modeled expectation available for the student. Stewart (2008) called this, “the preventive nature of classroom management, the online instructor must then develop a philosophy and management style that will result in student success without compromising standards.” Making it important that educators have an online structure that plans for issues students may experience during the course. Any barrier that can be removed by the instructor is important for students to be overall successful. The easier it is for students to navigate, the more time they will have to spend working together to collaborate which is the entire point.
Building a community of active learners that are motivated and engaged in their learning is important to my classroom experience. By being an active instructor that pushes students to higher levels of critical-thinking I believe they will be engaged and motived to learn. I will set a clear routine, high expectations and use preventative management to develop an online course structure that anticipates barriers students will occur. These elements including easily accessible technology will benefit the development of online or face to face courses.
Baker, C. (2010). The Impact of Instructor Immediacy and Presence for Online Student Affective Learning, Cognition, and Motivation. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ904072.pdf
Stewart, D. (2008). Classroom Management in the Online Environment. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qTb-rvH00RyyHSA-ekYcSImuHkM_W-7kMQSt-ZzaWrE/edit
Swan, Garrison, and Richardson. (2009). A Constructivist Approach to Online Learning: The Community of Inquiry Framework. Retrieved from file:///Users/ehorn02/Downloads/A_Constructivist_Approach_to_Online_Lear%20(2).pdf