New to College Teaching

There’s a big difference between a novice teacher and a bad teacher. One is at the early stages of an upward spiral of improvement while there is no hope for the other. Thankfully there are few bad teachers!

The appeal of college teaching is an attractive career option for many professionals.

Today more than ever, students of all ages are attending college to achieve higher qualifications and fulfil their work and life goals. Colleges, such as NCI, continue to change and evolve in response to these needs. Yet despite numerous innovations in policy, infrastructure and technology there is still one simple truth that underpins our education system; it is that the quality of learning depends essentially on the quality of teaching.

Professionals in areas such as business and computing see the value of ‘giving something back’ through their teaching. They are concerned for future of the profession and recognise that it depends very much on the quality of new entrants to the field. This is why many turn to college teaching.

National College of Ireland

Teaching and learning is what we do, it is at the heart of the college experience and there is no substitute for a fully resourced, accomplished teacher to encourage, guide and assess student attainment. Teaching in higher education, whether full-time or part-time, can and should be a life-enhancing, enjoyable and rewarding occupation. As educational institutions strive to provide high quality programmes, they face the challenge of recruiting the brightest and the best teachers. Higher education teachers need to be experts in their chosen field but they also need to quickly acquire the specialist skills and knowledge required for effective teaching. This is especially the case for part-time teachers who bring valuable experience from wider contexts into college classrooms.

It’s a curious contradiction to be both an expert and a novice at the same time. Many newly appointed teachers find college settings somewhat daunting; there are specialist concepts, specific ways of doing, and an extensive array of often obscure terminology. Add to this, the challenge of dealing with students who have high hopes and justified expectations of quality teaching and learning environments. Teaching is always a challenge and yet it entices us; you can learn a lot about yourself and your subject area by teaching others. Good teachers are also good learners and quickly adapt and develop in new situations. 

Time is the most precious commodity in college life. Everything seems to revolve around timetables and the academic cycle. Once classes are up and running the momentum seems unstoppable and new teachers are required to keep up with the pace. So here’s the thing – and I can say this based on my own experiences working in teacher education – ‘you don’t know what you don’t know until you experience it’. We run courses and explain in advance what to expect but there is no substitute for the real thing. Teacher professional development is an on-going journey and a career long endeavour. We will never stop learning.

Welcome aboard!

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