There has been a lot of upheaval in our country. People have been taught and are still being taught to see differences and judge one another based on which side or support they are on. Everyone is feeling the weight of the many problems that society as a whole is dealing with. All of this is on top of the pandemic itself, which is not only persisting but also getting worse. This year’s events have had a profound effect on everyone.
As a teacher, I’m seeing the impact of these issues and challenges firsthand on the students I teach online. It’s possible that prior to this year, the typical academic-related challenges may have been related to being prepared to learn in a virtual environment, being motivated to complete required tasks while maintaining other obligations, and completing tasks each week without falling behind. They now have to deal with the added stress of working from home, teaching their children at home, and worrying about their own health and financial security.
As an educator, you have an even greater responsibility if someone decides to pursue their academic goals at a time when they are confronted with any or all of the factors listed. It is possible that a student will require more than just a solid foundation of academic knowledge in order to continue making progress. A clear set of beliefs about one’s own ability to succeed could be helpful for students. A student’s instructor, who interacts with them in class through discussions and feedback, can aid in the development and maintenance of such ideas in them.
You must first understand your own beliefs about your students in order to help them develop a positive belief system. Being conscious of your own biases is essential if you want to have successful interactions with others. As a result, regardless of your personal preferences, you must be willing to put aside your own prejudices and remain objective while in the classroom. This will allow you to talk to your students about their academic progress, find out how you can help them, and give them supportive direction that helps them develop positive beliefs about their own abilities. This is more difficult than it appears, and students need it now more than ever before.
When it comes to their students, an instructor’s thoughts
As a result of the events of the past year, you most likely hold certain beliefs and feel strongly emotional reactions to those beliefs. Beliefs that have influenced your worldview may not be obvious to you. What matters most is how you view the students you are given as students. These are some of the questions I ask myself before each new class to gauge my progress as a teacher. Perhaps you’ll find this useful as well.
What assumptions do I make about my students and their academic preparedness at the start of class?
During the first few minutes of class, what assumptions do I make about my students’ motivation levels?
Starting class, what do I assume about students and their ability to manage their time?
Any preconceptions about my students, based on their names, photos or descriptions in a written introduction that I may have?
Learners as viewed by an Instructor
A teacher’s worldview and biases are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their beliefs. In addition, it includes any views and feelings you may have about students and their requests that you may have. Learners question their ability to succeed at a higher rate than ever before, so I must be able to understand my own perceptions of their abilities. This includes knowing how I will respond when students bring up personal issues with me. In order to better prepare for class, I use the following questions, which you may find useful as well.
No matter how legitimate their request for assistance may be, do I treat it as a request for assistance that should be handled by the learner on their own, or do I treat it as a legitimate request for assistance that should be handled by me?
Are my efforts to help my students worthwhile, or do I believe they are a waste of time?
Does this fall outside of my job description? If so, what can I do to help a learner who is feeling hopeless, exhausted, and/or ready to give up?
Do I have the temperament to deal with students who are experiencing strong emotions?
It’s impossible to hide your views on your students from them no matter how many times you communicate with them—whether it’s through a blog post, email, or in-person message. Regardless of whether or not you are aware of it, the word choice conveys a certain mood. Think about how you view your students’ potential when you answer this question.
What words would you use to describe your students, based on how well they performed in your class?
What you write in response to this question will reveal a lot about your viewpoints on your students. Instructors can expect to see both students who are struggling and those who are excelling in their classes. The word choice you make in response to the question above, on the other hand, is directly related to your worldview. For example, I use words like potential, capacity, capability, resilience, determination, and hopeful in my response. The more I think about my students, the more powerful my thoughts become, so I try to think positively about them whenever I can, despite how difficult it can be to help some of them.