An Educator’s Letter of Introduction
I recently got hired by American InterContinental University to teach a new digital citizenship course for their Masters of Education program. As is the norm for online universities, I am required to take an online training prior to teaching. This training started this week and one of the first tasks is to create a letter of introduction, a letter to provide students at the beginning of the course. I ended up really enjoying the process and was impressed with the guiding questions provided. I think this is great exercise and artifact for educators to give to learners. What follows are the directions and questions provided by AIU along with the letter I developed.
The Welcome Letter is one of the first things a student will see so it is important that a great Welcome Letter sets a positive tone for the class. The Welcome Letter provides personalization, relays enthusiasm for the program and the class, and gives advice to the student for how to be successful. Here are some guiding questions:
- What makes you passionate about the work you do?
- How long have you been teaching?
- How long have you been in the work field in which you are credentialed to teach?
- What are your proudest moments or inspirational accomplishments?
- Who is the teacher behind the computer?
- What helped you to be successful?
- What is your advice for success for students in your class?
- What do you hope for your students to accomplish by the end of the course, and/or for their futures based upon what they learned from the course?
- How will you express your “open door” philosophy within the Welcome Letter?
- What are some anecdotes or quotes you might include?
Here is the letter I composed for my learners:
Hello, I am excited to be spending this term with you! This letter will provide you with some information about me, my background, my passion for education, my general philosophy for approaching my role as an educator, and recommendations for being successful in this learning environment.
My official name is Dr. Jaclyn Gerstein, but I invite you to call me Jackie. My byline is, “I don’t do teaching for a living, I live teaching as my doing, and technology has AMPLIFIED the passion.”
I have been an educator for several decades. I began in more informal learning environments through outdoor and environmental education. Then I moved into more formal settings such as psychiatric hospitals and schools. I have a broad range of teaching experiences from Kindergarten through Graduate school within face-to-face, blended, and online teaching environments in public, private and charter schools.
Since I began my career in the area of outdoor education for at-risk youth, I obtained a doctorate in counseling focusing on group and experiential therapy for that population. I have maintained my counseling credential (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in New Mexico), but went on to get my K-8 teaching certification and gifted education endorsement. I moved from counseling to teaching children and pre-service/in-service teachers. My motivation for this move came from my discovery that educators do a lot of counseling in their classrooms – often more than counselors. It also fits with my belief that all good education begins with a positive relationship between the educator and the learner.
I feel extremely grateful to be in a profession where I get the opportunity to view human growth and learning. There is no gift greater than to literally view light bulbs going off in learners’ eyes/brains and self-esteem grow. I wrote about some of these key moments, which I call peak experiences, in my ePortfolio at http://jackiegerstein.weebly.com/peak-experiences.html.
I take pride in my work as an educator due to my guiding values and principles:
- I work towards creating learning environments that are engaging, authentic, and student-centered.
- I approach education as a process of co-creation whereby the educator and learners work together to create the learning experiences.
- I have a theory into practice model. I assist learners in developing strategies, skills, and activities they can use in their own home and work situations.
- I have a dream of helping develop an education system where all students can flourish, where their own passions are at the core of their own individualized and personalized education.
My expectations for students as they engage in class activities are based on my guiding principles and include: academic rigor; clear, well-composed and appropriate communication; personal connections to course content, and community involvement. Even though the expectations revolve around these high standards, a lot of support is provided through the readings, additional resources, detailed rubrics, and our community of learners.
- Read over all of the course materials and resources.
- Ask questions of and for assistance from both your co-learners and me.
- Seek answers and resources using the Internet search engines and social networks like Twitter.
- Share resources that you find with the rest of us.
- Bring your own passions and interests into the course.
- Use the rubric criteria to guide your assignments.
- Use available resources to assist you. For example, AIU has a great writing center.
I have a mastery of learning philosophy. How this translates into you being a student in this course is that you have the option to revise and resubmit work that did not meet all of the assignment criteria. The feedback you receive is based on the grading rubric and feedback you may receive from your classmates and me. You may submit your work several times until it meets a level to which you are satisfied.
In closing, I am looking forward to our journey together as I believe we are all educators and learners in this adventure. To quote the famous educational philosopher, John Dewey, “Education is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.”
See you online,
Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.