I believe that a teacher can and should have many different roles in the classroom, depending on the activities and lessons at hand, the desired outcomes and learning goals, and that more often than not the role that is required depends upon the student themselves.
One of my roles in the educational setting is that of a facilitator of learning. While my domain knowledge and experience brings with it a level of expertise that I can share with students, providing ‘content’ is only a minor part of my role in the classroom, and I recognise that my own subject expertise has limits. More important than the ordered presentation of content is my ability to provide students with the ability to reflect on and learn from their experiences within the classroom.
I am an advocate of active learning, and of the flipped learning methodology. Time spent ‘doing’ is more valuable for learning than time spent ‘consuming’ and improves student outcomes. This is key to making good use of time within the synchronous classroom, whether in-person or online. Consumption and acquisition of foundational knowledge or academic theory is primarily an activity for which it is not necessary for students and teachers to be in the same place at the same time. By placing knowledge acquisition as an asynchronous activity we can provide a more inclusive form of education that enables students to first encounter ideas in their own time and at their own pace, whilst not precluding those that wish to experience this as a social activity if desired. Coming together in a synchronous session to reinforce, explore and test those ideas, theories and skills through discussion, debate and practical application makes best use of the time of all involved in the learning process.
Enabling students to form learning communities, to share their own ideas, practices and experiences, and to learn from each other and help each other to learn is key to the educational process. My role in this is to provide these opportunities through my learning design, and through my actions in the classroom.
I recognise the importance of the links that are formed between students and the connections to knowledge made accessible by technology, but also recognise that the wealth of material facing students can be overwhelming, and that I can use my own experience and knowledge to reduce the evaluative burden on students approaching these sources. I play an important role in helping learning by acting as a curator or mediator, making students aware of other sources of knowledge and skills, and applying a level of filtering to these to ensure they are useful and can expose students to ideas and viewpoints besides my own. Combined with the collaborative peer learning communities formed within student groups, I ensure a diverse and inclusive set of voices is brought into the classroom as part of the educational process.
I aim for a process of continual reflection and improvement in my teaching practice, and through my privileged role in teaching management I encourage others to do the same. I engage in scholarly research in education in my field, encourage discussion and reflection among my peers, and promote the discovery and sharing of best practice. I participate in continuing professional development to increase my teaching knowledge and skills.
Kolb, David A. Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. FT press, 2014. ↩︎
Flipped Learning A Guide for Higher Education Faculty, Robert Talbert, https://styluspub.presswarehouse.com/browse/book/9781620364321/Flipped-Learning ↩︎
Active learning boosts performance in STEM courses, Scott Freeman, Sarah L. Eddy, Miles McDonough, Michelle K. Smith, Nnadozie Okoroafor, Hannah Jordt, Mary Pat Wenderoth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jun 2014, 111 (23) 8410-8415; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1319030111 ↩︎
Prince, M. (2004), Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research. Journal of Engineering Education, 93: 223-231. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2168-9830.2004.tb00809.x ↩︎
essentially this is social constructivism, which goes back to Vygotsky, but which has been examined in many other places ↩︎
Siemens, George. “Elearnspace. Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.” Elearnspace. org (2004). ↩︎
Siemens, George. “Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers.” ITFORUM for Discussion 27.1 (2008): 1-26. ↩︎