By Laurel Anderson, PhD, Associate Professor & Dept. Chair, Child Development
Many students who take child development courses aspire to teach in preschools and early childcare centers. In California, our licensed childcare facilities require child development or early childhood education units. At present, there is an Associate Teacher Permit that requires 12 units of child development. Our department discussed the feasibility of offering 4-week courses to align with the permit requirements. This opportunity would allow our department to market the four classes as a ‘package’ for employment as well as a foundation for our degrees and certificates. So, we are offering a four-class sequence to align with state requirements. Of course, students could take all four classes in 16 weeks, but the 4 week model is structured as hybrid courses that meet one evening a week and the remainder of the course work is completed online. This allows the students and instructor face-to-face instruction and online opportunities.
As week eight ends, two courses are complete. The students’ feedback has been positive. In fact, one student stated, “Why don’t more disciplines do this?” And, another, “This is the ONLY way I could get the units so I can stay employed.” Other positive sentiments come from the community we serve. Employers are thrilled to have this opportunity for their employees to gain the education and expertise necessary for implementing best practices in their schools and businesses.
As an instructor, this experience has exceeded my expectations. The students are focused, productive, engaged, receptive, and excited. The face-to-face classes have nearly 100 percent attendance—the students are ready and eager to learn, and they know that if they miss one class, it is one-fourth of their session. Additionally, the online portions of the course are discussed in the face-to-face venue so the students are well prepared for this area of coursework when they leave the classroom each week.
Organization is the key for the success in this venue of learning and teaching. I broke the four weeks into four meaningful units. The Course Outline of Record is met through the learning experiences in each of the units, so the course rigor is high. Each unit comes with a packet that includes extensive rubrics, checklists and links for further learning. The students know exactly what is expected of them. My model for teaching has always included rubrics and checklists, so the new avenue of teaching has not veered far from my typical practices. I have found, however, that there is no time for procrastination, and so we are all focused and timely with our work!
Hands down, this is the best semester of my teaching career. I love teaching one class at a time and pouring all of my energy and focus into the subject matter at hand. The students are so receptive to this style of teaching and learning. The students who are taking multiple courses in succession have formed a cohort of support and friendship. Numerous students who signed up for one class have signed up for the rest of the 4-week courses after completing the first session. The students encourage one another, are excited to see one another each week, and have really vigorous online connections through the discussion boards. These connections and the networking that takes place between students are powerful. I love the community that has formed in the classroom. These members are present, productive, and passionate. The positive attitude is contagious. We all want to be in the learning environment, together. In fact, last week, one of my students asked, “So, what classes are WE taking NEXT semester, like this?” That says it all.
- Step 3: Stay on the Path: Palomar Community College District | All Rights Reserved