I have been asking myself this question for a few decades. Who am I? It is not a question that can be answered without some observation .
Observation of self as learner
As a learner I am always looking to learn the right things. I want to learn what the teachers want me to learn, I want to be a good student and meet the criteria set by the teacher. Last semester I took a course with Professor Vickers and he had made a statement that we would not all have perfect posts all the time, and that was ok. I panicked! Does that mean that no one can earn an A? Of course not. What Professor Vickers was saying is that this is a learning process. It will be clear to us where our skills can improve based on his instruction and set up of the course. He was right, through his guidance and rubrics I was able to improve my ability to respond and write in our discussions. His teaching presence was there to support our individual needs to help us reach the goals of the course, and our personal goals as learners.
That has not cured my anxiety as a learner. I appreciate the “assume nothing” attitudes of instructors. I thrive on constant feedback and actually correct my work whether it receives credit or not. I am here to learn! I recently realized that another class I am taking is graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory. What I don’t like about the course is the minimal feedback of the course. I want to know if I am meeting the goals of the professor, or how I can improve and strengthen my abilities. I am not just increasing my knowledge of content, but I am looking for instructors to “coach” me in educational theory and practice. Young (2006), confirms my feelings as a learner. Young states 7 areas that students view as effective online teaching. These 7 areas are: adapting to student needs, providing meaningful examples, motivating students to do their best and facilitating the course effectively delivering a valuable course, communicating effectively, and showing concern for student learning. (Young, 2006). These are all areas that I thrive on as a learner, but am I a high needs student?
Observation of self as teacher
I am observing the detail that I need to attend to in my course. Where Am I going and what are my objectives? I can honestly say that I have spent my 15 years of teaching with “common sense” but I have never had to articulate what that was. In this class I am learning to articulate the process of the what, where, how and why of my course. I wanted to use Answergarden in my course because it provided a visual and it was aesthetic. Professor Pickett pointed out that I needed to have a clear goal/purpose for this cool tool. I hadn’t thought of what that purpose was. I honestly was just showcasing it. Peeling back the layers of the course I need to be sure that the goals and purpose are visible on each layer. Good design and facilitating success in our courses is essential in meeting our goals for our learners. The seven principles of good practice (Chickering & Gamson, 1987): (1) frequent contact between students and faculty; (2) reciprocity and cooperation among students; (3) active learning techniques; (4) prompt feedback; (5) time on task; (6) the communication of high expectations, and (7) respect for diverse talent and ways of learning, need to be carefully threaded through our course. As a teacher I have been aware of these principles in the physical setting, but in the online world I need to not just be aware of these principles, but I need to guarantee them.
The Future of me
How this will impact me as a teacher both online and in face 2 face courses will be a future observation of self. I have come to an understanding and awareness of the subtle complexities of myself as teacher. I know that there will be a constant flow of understanding of self to my practices as a teacher. The more I am aware of community and the overlap of content, learner and assessment the better understanding I have of myself as teacher and learner (Shea et al., 2003).
Chickering, A. W., Gamson, Z. F., & Poulsen, S. J. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education.
Shea, P. J., Pickett, A. M., & Pelz, W. E. (2003). A follow-up investigation of “teaching presence” in the SUNY Learning Network. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 7(2), 61-80.
Young, S. (2006). Student views of effective online teaching in higher education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 20(2), 65-77.