Today’s digital technologies have changed the way we work, communicate, and get our entertainment. But they’ve done more than that. They’ve also changed the way we learn — and the way we teach.
Educational technologies are evolving so rapidly today, in fact, that teachers can find it nearly impossible to keep up. And yet, now more than ever, the future of the classroom seems to be digital.
Whether you’re an educator already strongly rooted in the e-learning environment, or you’re considering making the transition into the virtual classroom, continuing education may well be the answer to preparing today for the students of tomorrow
This article presents some strategies you can use to hone your skills, develop new ones, and, ultimately, up your teaching game, both online and off.
Increasing your value
Educational leadership is an increasingly in-demand career, with tremendous opportunity for career development, job stability, and a lucrative income. However, strong proficiency in today’s evolving educational technologies is a fundamental requirement of the job.
Cultivating these advanced skill sets, though, can not only help you launch an exciting new career, but it can also help you to advance in your existing one. For instance,
- You can highlight these new credentials, licensures, and degrees during your annual performance review, which could score you a raise, a bonus, or a promotion!
- You may even qualify for scholarships, grants, financial aid, or lifetime learning tax credits to help you fund your continuing education.
- If you are teaching already, your school district may offer tuition reimbursement and other perks, including tenure-track positions, for each course you complete or certification or degree you earn.
Modernizing the classroom
As appealing as the financial and professional awards of continuing education may be, every teacher knows that the students are really what it’s all about. Pursuing your training in e-learning tools, techniques, and methodologies is far and away the best strategy for reaching rising generations of students.
The majority of today’s students are digital natives. The majority of today’s students have practically grown up with a device in their hands. To speak their language, chances are you’re going to need to speak the language of tech.
Fortunately, even if you’re not yet ready to formally pursue another certification, license, or degree, there are still resources you can use to learn how to harness the power of ed-tech. There are a host of organizations offering free and low-cost technology training for educators at all levels, from pre-K to post-secondary.
If you are already teaching in the digital environment, or you are planning to make a partial or complete transition to the online classroom, you must be wary of isolation. E-learning can feel very lonely for teachers and students alike. Without the interaction of the physical, face-to-face classroom, it can be easy to forget that there are real human beings on the other side of the screen.
For teachers used to the traditional classroom environment, the transition to the digital classroom can feel as though the teaching experience has been drained of its joy. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Reaching out to other teachers, especially other e-learning instructors, can help you combat the sense of isolation you may feel as an online educator. Best of all, your fellow educators can support you in devising strategies to connect with your students, no matter where they may be. These strong online communities created by and for educators may even prove to be the best form of continuing education an e-learning instructor can have!
Read more: Learning and growing as educators
The importance of self-care
Teaching is not always thought of as a caring profession in the same way that nursing or social work, for instance, is. But anyone who has ever been a teacher knows that education is an eminently caring profession. Teaching is or should be, all about caring.
When you are teaching in virtual environments, though, it’s easy to experience burnout or compassion fatigue. Teaching online is typically more time consuming than teaching in a traditional classroom, especially during course planning and setup, and you don’t get the reward of watching students bloom before your eyes as a result of your time, effort, and energy.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t every bit as effective with your online students as you are with your on-ground ones. It just means that you will need to find new ways to nourish yourself. Practicing self-care, in fact, is essential for every teacher, whether online or off.
Unfortunately, though, putting yourself on your own priorities list isn’t always easy, especially for teachers. This is why, as you pursue your own continuing education, you should make self-care a part of your professional development strategy. There are even courses you can take to help you learn to live a more balanced, self-nurturing life, no matter how busy you may be.
Your students, your family, and your friends will thank you for it. Most importantly, your own heart, mind, body, and spirit will thank you, too.
Continuing education for e-learning instructors
As technology continues to play an increasingly important role in the modern classroom, the need for educators who are adept in the use of these important tools is also growing. This is as true for the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom as it is for the online classroom. Continuous PD opportunities for teachers who want to master everything about edtech are therefore paramount for success.
Charlie Fletcher is a writer and former preschool teacher from the lovely “city of trees”, Boise, Idaho. When not writing, she can be found exploring the great outdoors or geeking out over the latest Game of Thrones fan theories.