Before All Else


OLC Collaborate Maui Presenter Derek Snyder, Assistant Professor, University of Hawai’i Maui College

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Lecturer Raquel Lopez Assisting Students

I have been teaching in higher education via distance for over a decade, and in the traditional classroom for nearly two decades now. Yet, I still humbly admit that I am constantly learning each semester how to more fully engage my students in both the online and traditional classroom. I do not profess to have the answer on how to best engage your students, but I do feel I have reached one very important conclusion regarding my classrooms that now serves as a centerpiece for my current teaching philosophy. Before all else, focus on your students in your classroom in order to begin creating an engaged learning community. This early investment in your students will longitudinally help foster a vibrant, interactive community of learners, who will ultimately be more willing to authentically engage with each other, the course content, and you, the instructor.

When students feel that they are an integral part of the learning experience of a classroom, an entirely new sense of commitment and engagement can transpire for students. On an island, relationships matter. In a classroom, whether online or traditional, relationships also matter. Deeper learning that takes place in higher education necessarily involves some struggle for students, and creating a classroom community of learners where students can feel comfortable with that struggle is essential. Ultimately, there is not one way to help create that comfortable space for students, but there are essential elements needed for a classroom where any student can feel valued, engaged, and excited to put forth their maximum effort to achieve success in their learning journey.

Join the discussion as I present on Supporting Student Success by Creating Engaged Online Learning Communities, at OLC Collaborate hosted by the University of Hawai’i Maui College on the island of Maui in September.

Derek Snyder

Derek Snyder, Assistant Professor, English Department, University of Hawai’i Maui College

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