Remembering Our Mission to Teach

mission to teach

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. T Day

    I think it's exceptionally hard to cling to the real mission in the for-profit world where the institutional mission is overwhelmingly aimed at making money, regardless of the cost (in every way) to students or faculty. I would put this at the top of the reasons for faculty burnout.

    1. Burned Out

      I agree with you wholeheartedly, T Day. The institution I currently work at, Trident Technical College, primarily seems to care about making money. This has led to my burnout and recent resignation.

    2. @Saads12

      You have hit the nail on the head. Administration's goals differ from those of their faculties. It is all about the money and it is the staff which suffers.

  2. rja

    Amen. for sure in for-profits; to some degree in public schools as well (depending on the mission of the public…) no wonder some disciplines are screaming for faculty.

  3. In Agreement

    As the college I work for cut staff, we who were left shouldered more and more non-teaching responsibilities. I felt burned out and my students were very unhappy with me as a teacher. Last fall,I consciously decreased what I agreed to do besides teaching. My students were much more satisfied as was I. I am still trying to make teaching my #1 priority. This article validates my feelings.

  4. Paul T. Corrigan

    Three good points, about remembering our purpose, engaging students in deep thinking, and developing relationships students. I would be curious about what the writers or other readers would suggest in the way of strategies or practices for doing these.

    Of the three, the relationships one seems the most (for lack of a better word) "tricky." Perhaps some folks would be willing to offer some further input in this or point us to existing resources that say more.

    It seems to me like a lot of talk about this takes the form of unspecific encouragements to develop relationships and more specific warnings about making sure to be friendly but not friends, etc., and to maintain the boundaries between teacher and students. The former is important but not always as helpful in terms of practice as it could be. The latter is, well, probably important but sort of a trivial level of discussion (along the lines of "how to dress appropriately"). What are some meaningful and concrete practices for developing relationships with students? What are some models? Meet them outside of class, say, for lunch? And should we develop relationships of this sort with all students? Just some? Or are the relationships limited to the classroom and being related and relatable a mode of teaching and carrying oneself?

    At any rate, these are some questions I have.

    Thanks for these encouragements.

    Paul T. Corrigan
    Teaching & Learning in Higher Ed.

    1. Gordon McAlister

      Hello Paul, good questions, getting right down to it. Here are a few things that the research and my personal experience provide as some answers. The biggest thing is to realize the relationship matters. It accounts for about 1/4 to 1/3 of the learning variable. Just decide it matters, and you'll start doing things to build relationship and rapport. Here are some other specifics, some obvious, smile, use a little humor, help students relax. Communicate that you care about student success. Call students by their first name, give them permission to call you by your first name – not all will take it, but just giving it sends a good signal. Take time to pursue issues they bring up, even when they are off course topic – balanced with not going too far off track for too long. Share a little of what's going on in your life, no need to go overboard. I'd also be a little cautious with the meetings outside the course, that can start to feel too social. The goal is to come across with a balance between professional, friendly, caring, knowledgeable, and clear about roles or boundaries. The frame of mind we are trying to support in students is "relaxed alertness."

      1. Paul T. Corrigan

        What a helpful comment, Gordon. This was just the sort of information I was looking for.

        You wouldn't happen to have some citations readily available to share, would you? I'd be particularly interested in knowing more about that 1/4 to 1/3 number.

        Paul T. Corrigan
        Teaching & Learning in Higher Ed.

  5. Tim Michael

    Excellent post, especially the part about modelling interactions and relationships. One of the reasons we see such friction between younger students and the job market (and between younger students and faculty) is because no one has taken the time to engage them on important issues such as professionalism.

  6. John Thomson

    This is an important point. I have had the benefit of having been a teacher in a high school and a Brigadier in the United Kingdoms reserve forces, in my last job being responsible for our Army Reserve or Territorial Army as it has been known in the UK. As such I have benefitted from both academic qualification and military training.

    I am very clear that teaching is a very important branch of leadership and if you view it that way Mission Oriented approaches fall into place. It is, however, important to understand that Mission Oriented approaches are only one part of the cycle and need to be considered alongside Mission Analysis and what might be termed 'Educational Analysis'. In my early training as a young instructor I was introduced to the phrase 'Promotion and Maintenance of the Desire to Learn'. An important start point for any teacher in schools today.

    The important issue is to consider individual outcomes for your students which, when coupled with your clear Mission Statement, identifies an individual learning/teaching strategy for all students in the group. This approach helps you as the teacher from time to time to take stock of where you are on the learning journey. The approach also ensures that the students themselves are connected to the 'Main Effort' and therefore take a full and active part in their own education instead of simply being topped up with education which many will experience a deep feeling of disconnect to.

    So I agree with this article wholeheartedly and would hope that articles such as this will bring about a fundemental change in the way we train our teachers in the future – to teach with understanding as the Main Effort and not to focus on the examination pass rate as a fundemental approach. This is where the exciting challenge exists for teachers.


Comments are closed.