You may remember how you got started as an instructor, but do you recall what inspires you to continue teaching? The instructional duties of an educator require well-developed planning, organizational, and time management skills, especially if you have multiple projects or career responsibilities to balance. If you teach in a traditional college classroom, you must plan for a class or classes that typically meets on a specific day or time during the week. If you teach online, the general expectation is that you will be actively engaged in your class throughout the entire week.
What inspires you to devote the time necessary to create a meaningful learning experience, knowing that you will need to make a significant commitment of your time? Yes, it is your responsibility to meet the requirements of your job, but what drives you to succeed? Is it your job, your students, or both?
Many instructors describe teaching as something they are passionate about doing and it stems from a desire to share knowledge and the experience they have acquired, while also helping students develop necessary academic skill sets. Other educators also focus on helping students work on areas such as self-motivation, self-confidence, and development of their overall sense of self-empowerment. Another reason for teaching is a love of learning, which requires ongoing professional development and a need to stay current in the field related to the subject being taught.
Are You Inspired to Share Knowledge?
Do you find you have a desire to share your knowledge and background with adult students? Most college instructors are working in a field related to their classes and they also have advanced education related to the subject matter. This adds depth to the class discussions because they understand the course concepts and can translate theory in a way that allows students to view it within the context of the real world.
The knowledge an educator possesses helps to strengthen all learning activities because it becomes easier to tell if students are on the right track with their comprehension of the course topics. This is demonstrated through student responses during class discussions, along with their written assignments, research papers, analyses, and other projects. For example, students with limited academic experience often discuss business issues from a "should" or "needs to" perspective, without considering the potential implications or reality of their proposed solutions. Through the use of Socratic questioning and feedback an educator is able to guide students in the right direction and encourage them to explore alternative viewpoints, opinions, and perspectives.
Are You Inspired to Teach Self-Development?
As an educator, do you have a desire to help students do something more in class than acquire subject-specific knowledge? Do you see students as individuals who have an interest in learning about their personal or professional needs? As any instructor knows, there isn't a set of characteristics or qualities that can be applied to all students because they each possess an individualized approach to learning and they have a wide range of skills and abilities. The process of teaching involves being able to quickly assess and interpret where each student is at, from an academic skill set perspective, and knowing how to assist them in the most meaningful manner. This is applicable to any classroom environment, whether in a college or corporate training class.
Working with students requires patience, emotional intelligence, and persuasive communication skills, if you are going to connect with them and develop productive working relationships. Your ability to connect with students is important no matter what the class length may be, whether two hours or ten weeks. Helping students develop skills such as writing and critical thinking can be very rewarding, when you watch a shift in their perspective and approach to interacting with their environment, and you see them gain knowledge from the course materials or other information received.
As students discover their capacity to learn they often become more self-confident, and over time their self-motivation increases. This is the essence of self-empowerment, when students understand that their work and effort produces a positive result, which includes the accomplishment of their goals. Those goals may be relatively simple, such as successfully completing the class or meeting the learning outcomes, or it can be more complex and involve the acquisition of knowledge or learning a new skill.
Are You Inspired by Lifelong Learning?
Do you have a love of learning? Another reason why someone would choose to work as an educator is a passion for their career field and they enjoy reading current research, topics, and trends related to their chosen field. As an educator, it is essential to stay up-to-date so your instructional approach relates to current thinking and research within the field you are teaching.
Another area of lifelong learning that is necessary for all educators is the continued self-improvement of their instructional strategies. This can be accomplished by reading books, articles, and online resources that are related to adult learning theories and adult education in general. A passion for acquiring and sharing knowledge will help you become a much more effective educator, and it can also teach your students how they can also become lifelong learners.
Are You Inspired by Your Own Professional Development?
As an educator, you will find it beneficial for your career, along with your students, to nurture a desire to perform your very best in class, know where you excel in your classroom facilitation strategies, and what areas you need to work on. Take time to look for professional networking opportunities as a means of sharing ideas and resources, and find classes or webinars you can attend to further your continued self-development.
As you review the reasons why you are inspired to teach you are likely to think about the sense of personal and professional fulfillment that results from helping students reach their academic goals. While the work of an educator often requires a substantial investment of time and energy, it is part of the process of teaching that you accept as being necessary for the benefit of your students. The opportunity to share your knowledge and experience, while teaching self-development skills, can be transformative for you and your students. When you feel inspired it will bring out the best in your instructional abilities, along with the best performance of your students.
I have discovered my purpose as an academic educator, leader, author, writer, mentor, and coach is to teach, write, and inspire others. It was from this purpose, along with my advanced studies and experience in the field of adult learning, that my latest book was developed: Transform Adult Education: Expert Teaching Strategies for Educators.
With this book, my hope is that you are inspired to learn more about adult education, and more importantly, transformational instructional strategies that will help you create conditions for meaningful learning to occur in your classes. I believe as you perform your very best as an educator, you will also bring out the best in your students.
Dr. Bruce A. Johnson
To Purchase Transform Adult Education: Expert Teaching Strategies for Educators please visit: Transform Adult Education
About Dr. J
Dr. Johnson has worked in the field of higher education and distance learning since 2005. He specializes in distance learning, adult education, faculty development, and online teaching. Dr. J's roles included Chief Academic Officer, Dean, Faculty Director, Faculty Manager, Faculty Development Specialist, Dissertation Mentor, Faculty Workshop Facilitator, and online instructor.
Dr. J has extensive experience with curriculum development, having authored courses and curriculum for bachelors, masters, and doctorate programs. He has also developed a Faculty Performance Model, Faculty New Hire Orientation Program, Faculty Training and Mentoring Program, Faculty Professional Development Courses and Workshops, and a Faculty Remedial Program.
Dr. J has a Ph.D. in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement, and a Master of Business Administration, MBA. As a scholar practitioner, Dr. J was published in a scholarly journal and he has been a featured presenter at an international distance learning conference. He has also published over 200 online articles about adult learning, higher education, distance learning, online teaching, and career development.
To learn more about Dr. Bruce A. Johnson, please visit the following resources:
Click Like on Dr. J's Facebook pages and you'll receive updates with important resources for online teaching, distance learning, and higher education, along with career advice, job tips, and other helpful career resources.