Defining the Teacher’s Role in Hybrid Education
Teaching: The Noble Calling
Teaching has always been more than a profession. Teaching is a noble calling. Being a teacher is about more than just imparting knowledge to your students. You are a coach, a caregiver, and a role model to your students. And while it may seem counterintuitive, these roles have never been on display more prominently than within the frameworks of Hybrid Education that are currently being implemented nationwide. The paradigm of the education field has shifted—maybe for good. In a Hybrid Education model, students need you to fill more roles than ever before, and to fulfill your calling in doing so.
Hybrid Education and the Current State of Our Schools
As much as any field, education has witnessed more uncertainty and change in the last year than it has seen since perhaps the rapid growth of public schools in the early 20th century. Much of the change has been forced on schools suddenly, and without any certainty that things will go back to the way they were before. One look at the CDC’s “safe return to schools” page indicates just how daunting this task really is. Implementing a Hybrid Education system may be the only viable way forward for some time.
Many schools have developed multiple plans for re-opening, including all-remote learning models, blended learning frameworks, and full-day, in-person experiences. When you build systems for students that incorporate aspects of each of these approaches and provide students with voice and choice to be able to use that which works best for them, you are building Hybrid Education systems. Hybrid Education is so powerful because it is both flexible and adaptive during uncertain times.
The Teacher’s Role in Hybrid Education
One study found that, in higher education, “instructors not only assumed new roles, but multiple roles as well” when implementing a Hybrid Education course, because Hybrid Education moves beyond more traditional teaching roles, such as direct instruction/lecture, to the role of a course facilitator or edtech consultant. Personal experience tells me that this holds true for K-12 education, as well. When we were tasked with creating a new approach for staff professional development last spring, we not only had to think about the basic “how” and “what” of the deliverables, but also the steps required to conduct sessions online and asynchronously while still maintaining collaboration and responsiveness.
Thus, this more robust role for the teacher in Hybrid Education isn’t limited to their role as a course instructor. Hybrid Education encompasses so much more than just the classroom. Hybrid Education incorporates a school’s approach to social emotional learning (SEL), its program of professional development, and other school programming. So the teacher must come to view themselves as a critical part of those aspects of the Hybrid Education system as a whole, not just classroom presence.
In the Hybrid Education classroom, a good part of the emphasis moves from a “sage on the stage” model to that of a “guide on the side.” In other words, you can be the world’s foremost expert in your content area but miss a critical component of Hybrid Education—the ability to coordinate a student’s learning. In a traditional classroom, the teacher might stand and deliver at the front of the room and be the driving force behind all classroom discussion. In a Hybrid Education model, that’s just not as practical. To be successful, the teacher must use other peer-to-peer and cooperative techniques, such as jigsawing or peer reciprocal questioning, often with an asynchronous component.
In the Hybrid Education classroom, you will have virtual learners, blended learners, and fully in-person learners. You’ll have learners who want to take advantage of career education programs, internships, and co-ops while the school serves as their home base. The teacher can’t possibly serve all of those initiatives themselves, so the teacher has to become more comfortable as a master facilitator as much as a master educator, and certainly more than just a master instructor.
The Hybrid Education Teacher and the Learning Management System
Facilitation takes on a whole other dimension within the context of the school’s learning management system (LMS). Now you are not just a presenter of content, a coach for understanding, and an assessor of what students know, understand, and are able to do as the result of your work, but you are also an educational technologist, with all the rights and privileges thereof. You become a curator of the content, a technology coach, and a 21-century assessment practitioner.
Your learning management system is essential to the Hybrid Education model. Because you may have students participating both in person and from a distance, how you set up and organize the progression and content of your learning modules will become as important as the strategies you use to present to student learners. The LMS should help you stay organized and lay out content in a logical manner.
Your LMS is also the hub of all the educational technology you will use. As you navigate the Hybrid Education system, remember to use your learning management system as a one-stop shop not only for those tools and the general scope and sequence of your course, but also for the specific steps students need to take to access those items.
A good learning management system should also serve as your assessment hub in a Hybrid Education model. At the teacher level, you should be able to assign varied assessment types based on student needs. The LMS should also make it easy for the teacher to collect and analyze assessment data. Finally, the teacher uses the results of that information as a tool to drive the next day’s instruction. In a Hybrid Education model, the trick is doing all of these things as students move in and out of in-person and online frameworks. A powerful LMS lets the teacher do that as seamlessly as possible.
Called to be the Best of All Worlds
What a miracle it is when students find a teacher who humbles themselves before service to their educational needs! That miracle happens every day in education, and it finds its fullest expression in Hybrid Education. That’s because Hybrid Education, while admittedly more difficult to organize and serve, also has more potential for meeting individual student needs, teaching true 21-century skills, and empowering students to be in control of their lives. Thus, the teacher’s role in Hybrid Education is ultimately an indispensable one.