4 Strategies to Become a Transformative Educator

When you are assigned a class and students arrive, do you view yourself as a teacher, instructor, or educator? Is your role a function, one which completes tasks and responsibilities, or do you aspire to accomplish more with your students? Do you consider the instructional strategies you use now to be transformative in some manner, or would you like to somehow transform the students you teach?

A person enters the field of education as a profession, either full-time in a traditional academic institution or as an adjunct (or part time) instructor. 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 within the field of higher education, he or she may be called a facilitator, instructor, or professor. This is important as you won’t find a job title with the word educator in it.

Does this mean that everyone who is a teacher, professor, instructor, faculty member, or adjunct, is also an educator? What I have learned through my work in higher education is that everyone who is in one of these roles is doing their best to teach and guide a learning process, whether they are involved in undergraduate or graduate degree courses. However, someone who considers themselves to be an educator is a person who goes beyond the role of teaching and seeks to lead a transformational learning process. I have learned myself that becoming an educator is not an automatic process. It takes time, practice, and dedication to become an engaging and transformative educator.

A Basic Definition of a Teacher

Teaching is generally associated with traditional, primary education. Classes at this level are teacher-led and children as students are taught what and how to learn. The teacher is the expert and directs the learning process. A teacher is someone highly trained and works to engage the minds of his or her students. This style of teacher-led instruction 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 will 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 or subject matter expertise. 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 universities, 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 this is the essence of teaching, is there a difference between teaching and educating students? Is the role of a teacher the same as that of an educator?

Basic Definitions of an Educator

I would like for you to 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 skilled in teaching; and “teaching” is aligned with providing explanations. I have expanded upon these definitions so the word “educator” includes someone who is skilled with instruction, possesses highly developed academic skills, and holds both subject matter knowledge, along with 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 which 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 must include all forms of messages communicated. 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 consisting of their 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 them to teach the course, provided they take time to read the required textbook or materials, and find methods of applying it to current practices within the field.

Many schools hire adjuncts with work experience as the primary criteria, rather than knowledge of adult learning principles. When I have worked with faculty who do have studied adult education theory, they generally acquired it through ongoing professional development. That was my goal when I decided on a major for my doctorate degree, to understand how adults learn so I could transform my role and become an educator.

4 Strategies to Become a Transformative Educator

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 4 Strategies to Become a Transformative Educator

Are The Elected Officials Aware Of The Wide Range Of Important Education Issues?

Public education is one of the most important institutions in our country, an institution in which the public has always played a role. It is the public who elects school board members, pays taxes to support public schools, votes for school bond referendum, and visits and volunteers in the schools. Public schools, in turn, transmit important values and information that help young people participate in our democracy and become responsible citizens. Clearly, education is important to all members of society given its impact on the community, the economy, jobs, safety, and health.

– The skill level of the population increases national productivity and leads to higher salaries.

– The better educated a person, the more likely that person is to report being in excellent or very good health.

– The more education a person has, the more likely that person is to be registered to vote and to actually vote.

– There is a strong relationship between the drop-out rate and crime among many young males

Many candidates are vocal about their support for public education, but voters can do a lot to ensure that elected officials are aware of the wide range of important education issues, and that they honor their commitment to education. This voter guide is designed to help voters focus on important education issues and ask political candidates and office holders informed questions.

Strong Public Education Candidates:

– Know about school reform and ways to improve public schools

– Know education policy; the federal, state, and local laws that govern public education; and the responsibilities of the desired office

– Make education a high priority in their political platform

– Solicit opinions and viewpoints from citizens through polling, town meetings, community conversations, and face-to-face discussions

– Have prior experience with public education policy

– Have a clear message about public education priorities

– Have a realistic funding plan to support public education improvements and ensure adequate resources for all schools

– Communicate who will be held accountable for student and school performance

Questions for Candidates

A quality public education requires the assurance of basic physical needs: shelter, nutrition, physical safety, sleep, and exercise. Quality education begins at an early age with the development of cognitive and social skills. A candidate who supports education will have a clear position on a wide range of health and other children’s issues.

– What proposals, if any, do you offer for public programs to support underserved children?

– What is your position on the value and importance of education?

– What are your top priorities for improving public education?

How well students achieve is only partly determined by students themselves. Schools play an important role, and elected officials at every level have some say in how schools are run and who is held responsible for student achievement. Strong education candidates understand the role their offices play in public education, and should be able to articulate what they will do to improve school quality.

– Who do you think should be responsible for ensuring that public schools operate effectively and children achieve?

– If elected, what responsibility and authority would you have for public education?

– What do you believe are the best ways to evaluate school and student performance?

– How would you evaluate teacher quality?

Most candidates for office support quality and improvement in public education, but their proposals for how to pay for public education vary widely. A strong education candidate should have developed a viable plan for school funding.

– What are your views on how much is spent on public education and whether this amount is adequate?

– What changes, if any, would you make to the existing education funding structure?

– What is your position on current pending court cases that would affect funding for education in the state?

– What programs and areas do you consider most vital and deserving of the highest protection from budget cuts?

– How would you fund the program and policy changes you are proposing?

– Do you have any tax proposals to offer for public school funding?

– Do you support generating funds for public education through taxes on liquor, tobacco, lotteries, casino gambling, slot machines, or through any other “sin” taxes or revenues?

– What is your position on bilingual education?

– Do you believe the amount spent for students classified as “special needs” is adequate? What changes would you make, if any, to support these students?

– What is your stance on school choice?

– What is your stance on the adequacy of school facilities?

About This Guide

This guide presents a list of questions that highlight the most pressing concerns and issues in education today. Public education is a leading issue in American politics. The information in this guide will inform voters about important education issues, and help voters determine a candidate’s stance on public education. There are many possible answers to the questions raised in this guide. No single answer is “correct”. The questions help identify the education decisions candidates will have to make if elected, and encourage voters to make ballot selections based on which candidates they believe have the strongest public education agenda. In the upcoming 2020 national election, voters will elect a president, vice president, 435 members of the US House of Representatives, and 35 US senators. In state elections, voters will elect governors, state house and senate members, and countless mayors, regents, city council members, boards of supervisors, county officials, and school board trustees.

Who Should Use This Guide?

Everyone! A free, public education is one of America’s most vital assets. Every member of society has an investment in a quality public school system. Good schools lead to strong economies, better jobs, less crime, and many other positive social outcomes. Education is an important responsibility for elected officials at all levels, and thus an important area to consider in every election. From the President of the United States to local school board members, making decisions about education is a critical part of the job. We hope this guide helps you make informed decisions about which candidates to support.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Are The Elected Officials Aware Of The Wide Range Of Important Education Issues?