What is a teacher? What is our role? What makes a good teacher great? What makes a great teacher better?  How can I make my classroom more exciting?

Have you ever wondered if a teacher just gets up one morning and jumps into a classroom?  Have you ever wondered why your Nursing, Human Resources, Automotive instructor etc. do what they do?

I’ll tell you, it is a journey.

Just as a student’s educational goals are a journey, so is teaching.  With any journey there are stumbles and up and downs and teaching has this same path.  However, what I love about teaching is that we are an unified team.  No matter what area of expertise we have we are at Moraine park for the best interests of our students and for each other.

Proof of this unification is the Moraine Park Technical College Teaching Fellows Program.

I have been lucky enough to have been selected to be a part of this inaugural program developed and brought to fruition by Dr. Jennifer Lanter for the 2016-2017 school year.

This experience has been more than working with other instructors “outside” of my area, it has been more than just meeting once a month since September and it is far more than sharing of ideas and experiences month after month.

With in the Moraine Park Teaching Fellows Program I have been able to explore areas of learning that were new and daunting.  I wasn’t sure what to expect and was hopeful this was going to be more than just another meeting on my calendar.  IT WAS!!!  IT WAS SO MUCH MORE!!

From the first meeting in September, I found myself NOT clock watching, but truly hanging on every word of my fellow participants to hear of the next GREAT idea.  I was anxious to share as I didn’t know if what I do in the classroom is enough, is effective, is right or am I missing it all together.  You know, I was validated and I was heard and I was taught how to be better and I too was asked questions of various practices in the classroom that I do.  I was HOOKED!!!  I couldn’t wait until the next meetings!!! I couldn’t wait to read the next chapters in our corresponding reading and correlate that to my classroom and add to the learning experience of my students or rather OUR students.  I couldn’t wait to see what came next!!!

Through this program I was able to evaluate and visit classroom settings that were completely out of my comfort zone.  I was “forced” to review my peers teaching and review their learning environments and in turn I was evaluated.  The classrooms and environments were so very different from mine but you know what, DIFFERENT IS GOOD, no DIFFERENT IS GREAT!!  The classroom visits were so valuable and eye opening.  I learned new ways to engage my students and at the same time reignite my engagement and excitement in the classroom.  I am one who starts sweating when someone is evaluating me, however I found myself looking forward to receiving my peers feedback.  The feedback I received was so helpful and you know what, made me feel good too.

Along this journey we shared ideas/hypothesis we were going to investigate, research and apply to our classes. This led all of us to determine and develop the most optimal learning environment. Again, we are sharing our findings and creating an overall optimal learning environment in every area of MPTC.  The work wasn’t work, really, it was intriguing, be it a presumed hypothesis was correct or not, it led to the same goal of optimization in the classroom.

This journey for me ends soon, but the travel is ongoing as teaching is ever evolving as are my students.

MPTC offers so much for their students and the surrounding communities.  However, it offers a lot of support for each instructor to help create a classroom that students WANT to return to again and again.

So let me go back, “What is a teacher? What is our role? What makes a good teacher great? What makes a great teacher better?  How can I make my classroom more exciting?”

One journey to answer all these questions….The MPTC Teaching Fellows Program

Validating teachers, Reigniting our Passions, Evolving from Good To Great and always looking to be better and  Knowing and embracing there is more out there that just YOUR classroom!

For more information on Moraine Park, visit morainepark.edu.

Written by Marla Werner
Human Resources Instructor