Teaching is both challenging and rewarding, whether you’re teaching young children or senior citizens. But the challenges are different depending on the context of your classroom. The college classroom, for example, is particularly challenging because you’re not necessarily dealing with the same age group or education experience.
Here are certain skills you’ll want to develop if Post-Secondary teaching is in your future.
Of course teachers have to have a knack for learning, and the ability to pass that knowledge on, but when you’re teaching at higher levels, it becomes increasingly important that you have experience in the subject you are teaching. In Elementary and Secondary Education, the teacher’s main focus is teaching the students how to learn. But in post-secondary, the focus really is on the content. No one appreciates the professor who reads the book for the first time along with the class, and ends up hating it and calling it a waste of time. The professor should definitely learn with the students, but not be learning the basics with them.
In post-secondary education, students are largely there because they want to be. That means that they have the option to quit or not apply themselves if they lose motivation. Anyone who has gone through the process of earning a master’s degree knows that if the coursework isn’t personalized and the instructor doesn’t care about it or you, it becomes difficult to motivate yourself. If the instructor is relatable, students are more able to care about the coursework, getting more from each class.
This in no way means that you have to become buddies with your students. It simply means that being empathetic and taking into account how they see things can help you teach more effectively. Personalized learning is more effective than general concepts, and it all begins with being personable yourself.
Teaching in the 21st century is definitely not an easy task. Students are digitally focused and have more free access to information challenging thus the traditional prototypic picture of the teacher as the knowledge instigator. Technology has the cure but this cure cannot be effective unless teachers know how to use its prescription. Teachers need to acquire certain digital skills that are detrimental to the success of their instruction and without which no learning objectives could be cultivated.
As a teacher, you will be on a stage every day. You will be standing in front of a classroom, yes, but you will be scrutinized outside the classroom as well. Your syllabi, grading, and even correspondence will be judged by the very students you are teaching. Your methods will be questioned. You will be argued with about rubrics, and pleaded to change scores. Your actions of the past will be used to try to establish precedents and patterns. People will try to game the system that is classroom learning.
This can be a high pressure environment. It is easy to become jaded and to lose focus of your overall initiative: to impart knowledge. You must hone your skills of being tough-skinned and maintaining focus despite outside factors.
What are skills that you believe are necessary for teaching high-level coursework?
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