Dr. Paul Antonellis, Jr., Ed.D. has more than 20 years of fire/EMS experience, holding various positions including chief of department. read more
For the past 20 years I have had a passion for adult education. I have obtained my master’s degree and have taught hundreds of students over this time, in 2015, I earned my Doctoral of Education. I like to use the following metaphor about teaching Think of education/knowledge as an eternal flame that needs to be kept burning and bright. The teacher’s role is one who helps locate fuel for the fire and stoke the flame of knowledge for both the student and the teacher. I often use this metaphor at the beginning of a class to help set the stage for the semester and often refer back to it during class.
Theory and Application
Over the years, I have come to realize each student will come to a class with various levels of knowledge about course material. At the beginning of each class, I try to assess this level of prior knowledge. I think the biggest impact on the learning process is when I can guide a student to tap into their prior knowledge, test it against what is presented in class, and use that knowledge as a means to stoke the eternal flame of knowledge. I believe it is important that the students in my class be able to see how the course material applies to their own lives as they apply abstract theories to what they experience in their everyday world. This approach should empower students to articulate ideas and process concepts in ways that are meaningful and current to them.
In my classes, I encourage group and individual presentations, role playing and peer debates between students, depending on class size. It has been most interesting watching how students take on a “role of ownership” for a project that they are allowed to explore, research, and discuss. Other strategies I use to help students relate to the class material are discussions and written assignments of current labor relations events in the news. These assignments allow the student and the teacher to provide fuel, with the student's contribution being prior knowledge, and the student also stokes the flame with his effort. I have developed a Facebook group “Labor Relations News and Updates” that I offer my students to sign up for so they can receive postings that I make on current labor issues. Many of my former students have remained on the list so they can stay connected to current labor issues.
In the classroom, I create a learning atmosphere by using a variety of teaching methods including small group exercises, videos, and blogs. I often utilize contemporary cases/problems in class discussions and case studies to encourage critical thinking. I adapt my teaching methods to students rather than expecting my students to adapt to my teaching methods. I may be teaching the same class three times in a term, but each group of students may need different teaching methods to have the greatest impact. Based on the information I receive in the student introduction at the start of class and during class discussion, I often change/edit my instructional material to ensure that the most important information is being relayed to the students in a blend of lecture, discussion, and problem solving. An example of this can be seen on my sample teaching video, in which I utilize lecture, powerpoint slides, problem solving questions and student opinions to stimulate discussions. I also have been using the "flipped classroom" at Merrimack College, making individual mini-lectures for each chapter covered in the class.
Over the past couple of years teaching, I have found that the course syllabus is the corner stone of the class. The course syllabus is generally the first document the student turns to and is often the first impression of the class. My course syllabus supports my teaching beliefs and keeps my students and I organized/on track. I refer to the course syllabus as the “learning contract” seeing that it details what I will teach and how I will present information (my responsibility) and what the student will be required to do (students responsibility). The learning contract is much like a labor contract in that the terms and conditions cannot be changed without prior notification. I always recommend that the student retain the hard copy of the course syllabus and will often post a copy online. In my course syllabus and course development, I feel very strongly about having detailed instructions about course objectives, weekly assignments, projects, and expectations. My course material and course syllabus, are very detailed (having been refined many times based on self-reflection and student comments/evaluations) ensuring that the student will understand the mechanics of the course.
Professional Growth Plan
I think it is very important that I constantly reevaluate my professional growth.
As a full-time professor, I must also take classes to stay current on the subject matter I am teaching. Professional development allows me to stoke my eternal flame of knowledge. I have always taken advantage of professional development opportunities offered. This attitude and drive has afforded me the opportunity to be trained in WebCT, Blackboard, Web Tycho, and ANGEL platforms for online learning. Working with a team of curriculum developers has allowed me to receive constructive criticism, determine how best to overcome challenges, and in the end design a better course. Type your paragraph here.