How to Go the Extra Mile in the Field of Education
By Daniel Sherwin, Founder dadsolo.com
For anyone working in the field of education – from a teacher to school administrators, to private tutors – it can be difficult to distinguish yourself and find the right ways to achieve what can, at times, seem like lofty goals. Education is a demanding field, and educators need to have confidence in themselves and those around them.
Many teachers will tell you that teaching is way more than “teaching.” If that sounds vague at first, think of it this way: being able to communicate a subject to students is just the first hurdle for successful teachers. Good educators must learn to use their full range of talents and experiences to help make the student receptive to learning. This is crucial.
The ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) is a nonprofit that focuses on education. It suggests that getting to know your students as learners, and what each of them requires, leads to a bounty of benefits.
“Knowing students means more than merely acquiring social or administrative information – students’ names and ages, something about their friendship circles, a bit about their family backgrounds, a few statistics from their academic record. To maximize learning, we need to dig deeper than this superficial acquaintance,” says the ASCD.
“Developing an in-depth understanding of each learner enables teachers to create a psychologically safe environment for every learner, determine each student’s readiness for learning, identify multiple access points to the curriculum to increase engagement and success, and develop and demonstrate greater emotional intelligence in the classroom.”
Getting to know students as learners, not just surface-level personality traits, can help you better plan for their overall education and any challenges that arise along the way.
For school administrators
How does a school administrator, like a principal, use modern technology to better their relationship with teachers, students, and parents? Social media may be one answer. More specifically, using it as a point of outreach. With social media, admins now have the opportunity to communicate with teachers, parents, and students in a quick and responsive way that simply wasn’t an option a decade ago.
Not only that, but an online presence allows for opportunities for “branding” yourself as a trusted expert in your field – which to kids and their parents is the field of making their education experience a positive one.
“School leaders need to tap into the social media tools available and brand themselves appropriately. By doing so, educators can repurpose their identity toward being an expert, or trusted resource, in their respective discipline. By strategically branding one’s self, it also has the strong potential of building credibility to others. Lastly, branding is an awesome tool to network and connect with others. Such digital networking and connecting leads to digital collaboration, self-regulated learning, and autonomy,” says Connected Principals.
For alternative educators
Not all educators work in a classroom or manage a school’s operations. Some teach in a more private setting, like tutors. Tutors typically find more success when they have actual content expertise in the fields in which they are tutoring. Anyone can read from a textbook or a worksheet and grade students’ responses based on certain criteria, but good personal educators know how to make their fields apply to their students’ real lives, and are able to make connections that allow for more interesting learning opportunities. The amount of information available online to assist with this is astounding. For example, HomeAdvisor offers a guide to real-world mathematical application here; CommonSense breaks down biology here, and EarthScienceJr offers fun lessons you can do at home here.
As Edutopia notes, “Even though most tutors may never get to facilitate a custom project-based learning session, they can discuss and introduce the rigor of real-life applications. Tutors engage students more fully if they can turn school assignments into project-based activities and provide opportunities for real, hands-on work instead of abstract assignments or rote worksheets. Tutors who can make learning relevant to students’ interests create more students who actually care about what they are learning”.
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