“…it started when I posted a prayer request in an online class after our 6th child (our 4th daughter, Emily Grace) died on the day she arrived in February 2012.... One male student, just a few years older than I, wrote several notes of encouragement. In fact, when the class he was in ended in December 2012, he asked to be updated on Nathaniel’s status (born in January 2013).
Online adjunct faculty member, Dr. Andrew Graham, continues his testimony, "We kept in touch via email. When he was in another class with me in 2013, he began to share some of his own life struggles. He shared about his marriage, his parenting struggles – including the arrest of his teenage son for selling drugs – and being laid off from work. We chatted about life and faith and God’s plan for his life.
Then he contacted me about his plans to withdraw from the program because he was so stressed out about life and work concerns. We continued to correspond. He recently sent a nice note thanking me for being willing to invest my time and energy in encouraging him on the journey. He stayed in the program and feels certain that it was the best decision….”
A Student Perspective - Marina Gutai / Senior Nursing Student
An instructor's efforts to foster faculty-student relationships has been one of the most encouraging aspects of my educational experience. This is important whether I am taking online or onsite classes. As a student, I desire to know what lies ahead of me, as well as who will be leading me to the end goal.
This desire can be accomplished by an instructor, in part, by simply taking the time to fill out the faculty bio page in LearningStudio. I mean really fill it out, all three sections: bio, credentials, and testimony. Include enough content to give students real and tangible insights into your life.
In turn, this might be the key to get into our lives. The possibilities of the point of impact from that moment on are innumerable. Students may not remember everything you taught them, but they just might remember a phrase or a story you shared in your testimony. Consider the following:
Points of Impact
- Students get to know you.
- You begin a relationship.
- Students feel comfortable; therefore, you are more approachable.
- Trust and confidence are established.
- Rapport is built.
- Your bio and testimony can have a powerful impact, maybe even lead someone to Christ or open up a conversation about salvation, life, and knowledge.
- Personal experiences from your bio page can be invaluable discussion points in an online/onsite discussion setting.
Dr. Carolyn Crippen, associate professor at the University of Victoria in Canada, states in her article “Serve, Teach, and Lead: It’s All about Relationships” from InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching,
“Teaching is all about making connections with people. It is about relationships and investment in others and in their future and ours” (2010, pg. 27)."
I encourage you to take the simple, yet powerful step towards creating an environment that promotes deep, enriching student-faculty relationships. Share what the Lord has been doing in your life - the accomplishments, the mountains that God moved to get you there, or the vulnerable moments in your life that made you who you are as a professional and a human being in general.
You are human. You might be surprised at the impact. You may even find that your students have impacted your life. The only way to find out is by opening lines of communication and genuine relationship.
Bio Tips & Reminders
- Include a photo of yourself, especially if you teach online. Students want to put a face to a name.
- DON’T WRITE IN ALL CAPS. THIS IS DISTRACTING TO SAY THE LEAST!
- Don’t write about yourself in a third person voice, as this can depersonalize and make you seem less approachable.
- Be yourself. Everyone has a story and yours is eager to be heard!
Crippen, C. (2010). Serve, Teach, and Lead: It's All about Relationships. Insight: A Journal Of Scholarly Teaching, 27. http://0-search.ebscohost.com.oak.indwes.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ902861&site=eds-live
Question: What information in your bio is important for your students to know about you? Please leave a comment below.
Marina Gutai / Student Worker / Office of Faculty Development
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