Why I “Teach”

It’s challenging to address #whyIteach as an instructional technologist (and apostate librarian). I feel like I have to justify “what I teach” and “how I teach” before I even can approach the question of why.

Mostly, in my roles, I teach faculty members. (Sometimes they ask me to teach their students, but that’s been uncommon for a long while.)  This provides a remarkable clarity of context. My learners have brought their own goals to our interaction, more explicitly than the average student in school has. They are looking to make their teaching “better” – where better is a nebulous concept including both “more like my peers” and “in my own style”, where I might be involved in interpreting the main goals of the class or in streamlining a process so the faculty member can catch a few more minutes of sleep after grading.

Inverse Hierarchy of Instructional Technology Needs

Image by Krista Moroder, originally found through http://www.teachthought.com/technology/think-pedagogy-first-technology-second/

I’ve taught a lot of workshops, but most of my instruction is one-on-one. Working directly with the faculty member helps me explore her goals, which helps me find the right solution and teach more clearly the parts of it which she needs to understand. We can change quickly if his needs don’t match my plans, and it’s a little safer for us both to be vulnerable in the limits of our knowledge away from our colleagues’ observations.

This, in the end, is what I love about my job. I get to help other people pursue their passions. I get to help them reach their goals, whether lofty or light. And I know that in so doing, I’ve contributed indirectly to the core mission of the college.

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