Sunday, December 27, 2015

Asking For Help: Learning to Love my Instructional Designer

I know it all. Well, sometimes I like to think I do. As a teacher I am used to be the master of my domain, the HBIC if you will. In general, I think we, as teachers, tend to feel that what we're doing is most often right. We often teach the way we were taught or how our student teaching placement showed us and it's hard to break away from strategies that we've grown attached to even if perhaps they could be improved upon.

Teaching college, a lot of professors don't have any coursework in education and pedagogy, so we have at our disposal an instructional designer and a technologist. At first, as an adjunct, I didn't think I had much use for their services. I know how to plan lessons and to figure out how to meet objectives. However, now that I'm full time I've been spending more and more time with our ID and I have to say I'm becoming a better teacher because of it.
I first approached her this semester because my online students were having trouble finding the materials I wanted them to use. I wanted her to look over my blackboard site to tell me if it really was confusing. (Of course I was convinced she was going to tell me that it was perfect and that my students were crazy.) Instead she pointed out the few areas that she didn't understand why I needed. I explained my reasoning, and she got it, but she helped me see that I was thinking too much from the teacher facing side and needed to consider what my students really needed. She discussed how the more clicks to get to something the less likely a student is to ever see it. I made a few changes and had significantly less complaints for the semester about this.

This first experience gave me two takeaways:
1. Just because it makes sense to you doesn't mean it makes sense to everyone.
2. You don't have to wait till midterm or the next semester, quarter etc to make a change. If it will help your students change NOW.

This ID and I have now become work BFFs and are developing a great friendship outside of work too. So now I often go to her to discuss ideas for lessons, how I want to structure my syllabus etc. She's actually younger than me and has taught less years however, in this role, she gets to spend all day thinking about how to help instructors design their courses with their students' success in mind without getting bogged down by the grading etc that we all have to do so she has great insight. We are currently collaborating on a gameified version of one of my courses which is super fun.

She also helped me create a spreadsheet where I can list all my outcomes and objectives and then put down which assignments are activities, formative, and summative assessments for each outcome/objective. This way it'll be easier to keep my students "in the know" about what objective we are working on and I can make sure that I am absolutely teaching the material required of me. 

Now, when I taught 7-12 I didn't have access to an ID. I'm sure many of you don't either. But you do have access to each other and to blogs and to education journals. I challenge you to think about your courses and about the last time you revamped anything. Consider the complaints you keep hearing from your students- are they actually more justified than you thought? Be willing to ask for help and feedback and be willing to act on the advice you're given. The more we grow and change, the better off our students will be.

 Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post! What especially hit home for me was, "Just because it makes sense to you doesn't mean it makes sense to everyone." I need to remind myself of this much more often. My husband will sometimes read the instructions for a project I think will be amazing and he goes, "yeah that was clear as mud," so if he doesn't really get it neither will my 6th graders. Thanks for sharing the other experiences with your ID too!