Online teaching is emerging as a dynamic profession requiring constant upgradation of knowledge and skills to fit into the changing digital scenario. This requires online teachers to take charge of their profession-oriented self-development, i.e. professional self-development.
Every decade brings with it a set of new professions which meets the need of the existing times. Most of those professions and occupations which were highly sought after a decade back has either become irrelevant or has gradually lost its sheen. Only those which has succeeded to stay abreast with the contemporary or disruptive tech changes by bringing in innovations continue to flourish. The fast paced technological developments are seen as the major catalysts in bringing changed professional identities.
With online learning becoming a rage in education sector owing to its many benefits, the role and identity of a teacher is undergoing a major transformation. For coping with these changing professional identities, it has become pertinent for individuals to understand the need of their own professional development. Well-planned and curated professional development courses or activities help teachers to shape their professional journey after carefully considering a number of factors, the prime being the needs of changing time. This article will discuss a 10-step cycle which will assist online teachers in their self-development mandated by their profession.
Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking: A Constant Rigor
We daily come across some bottlenecks, issues, or problems while discharging our professional duties. However, a majority of us, due to our lethargy or habitual cognitive economy, tend to ignore and move forward. This moving forward actually plunges ourselves a step closer towards redundancy. As long as you are in a profession, a conscious effort towards identifying the concerning problems and doing something about it will give your career the requisite thrust. Developing a growth mindset hence becomes one of the pre-requisites to stay always relevant. Online teachers must identify those problems which are hindering them in utilizing optimum and delve into critical thinking to find out the most effective ways to deal with them.
New Technologies and Pedagogies: Keep Tuned in
An online teacher must be equipped with both pedagogy as well as technology. With time, both is akin to change. Hence, it becomes essential for online teachers to make themselves adept with the latest technology to make transmission of the best pedagogies of time easy and convenient.
Contextual and Need-Based Learning: Learn What You Act
The situated cognition theory believes that all learning is contextual and that learning cannot be separated from doing. If we do need-based learning with respect to what we are actually doing in our practical lives, then the learning which occurs becomes more meaningful and hence gets processed more strongly. So, if you feel the need of learning a new skill or knowledge, signing up for an online course would indeed be a good idea.
New Knowledge and New Skills: Always a Proactive Process
Once you sign up for a course and you understand the need and importance of it, owe the responsibility to proactively participate in that learning. When you are proactive, it’s you who is controlling your own learning. This will, in turn, help you to achieve your new knowledge or skill with greater speed and enthusiasm.
Online Learning Communities, Or Communities of Practice: A Crucible of Creative Thinking
Collaboration is a key to get develop lateral and divergent thinking. The internet is abound with many online communities of practice. You may join a one which you like or even create one by involving other professionals who are known to you. These COPs offer a platform to discuss on the same issues and share experiences. These communities provide an excellent way to update oneself with the latest in his/her profession and collaboratively solve problems and doubts.
A Reflective Practitioner: Improve Upon Actions
A reflective practitioner is the one who reflects over his/her practices. Often with the rigor of delivering our roles on everyday basis, we forget to sit back and reflect on our own practices. A periodic reflection of what we are doing to improve ourselves is necessary in order to get better at what we are doing professionally. If we follow the above sequence, on identifying a problem area, we acquire new knowledge and skills to deal with them. Once we gain new abilities, we need to practice them by incorporating into our teaching and then reflect over it to see how successful we have been in practically doing it.
Feedback from Peers and Students: Insights from Other Minds
Sometimes, we may skip on certain aspects of improvement from our insights gained through reflection. Often, others who are involved or know about our work, may provide us with valuable feedback. Therefore, peers and students for an online teacher become valid and authentic source of feedback. Once the feedback is taken, it should be carefully analyzed to identify the best course of further action.
Journal of Learning: Know Your Learning Curve
Journal keeping are best way to monitor one’s progress. It also help in regularly documenting your professional path and creating a portfolio of your work, learnings and accomplishments. Following this 10- step cycle will help in adding to your repertoire of steps you take for your own professional development.
Self-Rewards: A Way to Self-Motivation
Psychology says that rewards and reinforcements are indispensable for sustaining interest and motivation. External rewards in profession might come with time and the achievements seen in very concrete or tangible terms by employers. However, those achievements require sustained efforts and motivation even for the intangible gains we derive, apparently invisible to others. Hence, comes the need to reward yourself with gestures or little things which might please you and give a sense of accomplishment.
Master of Own Professional Development: You Know the Best!
Eventually, the most important favor you may do to yourself is to take charge of your own professional development. Professional development is a continuous and rigorous process which requires a lot of commitment and sustained effort. A commitment towards one’s professional development will not only help in achieving one’s optimum potential but also help in withstanding the challenges of time.