Do You Know How to Be an Engaging and Highly Effective Educator?

Anyone can teach. We teach each other every day. For example, we give instructions to each other for such things as cooking, putting together furniture, and completing household other tasks. However, teaching someone is different than the process of educating someone. Consider the difference between informal learning and formal learning. An example of informal learning would be following a recipe to learn how to cook. In contrast, formal learning occurs within a classroom and usually is accompanied by evaluation and assessment. It may seem that teaching and educating are the same thing; however, the difference has to do with the place or context for learning.This is the same distinction can be made for teaching informally (giving instructions) and teaching students in a formal classroom environment. A person enters the field of education as a profession – either full time in traditional academic institutions or as an adjunct (or part time) instructor. The reasons vary for why someone would choose to be in the classroom. A traditional full time professor may likely be responsible for conducting research, teaching, and publishing scholarly work. An adjunct instructor may teach in a community college, traditional college, or an online school. When someone teaches students in higher education he or she may be called a facilitator, instructor, or professor. This is important as there isn’t a job with the word educator in the title.The questions I would like to answer include: What then does it mean to be an educator? Does it signify something different than the assigned job title? What I have learned through my work in higher education is that becoming an educator is not an automatic process. Everyone who is teaching adult students is not functioning as an engaging and highly effective educator. However, it is possible to learn how to educate rather than teach and that requires making a commitment to the profession.What Does It Mean to Teach?Consider teaching as part of the system of traditional, primary education. Those classes are teacher-led and children as students are taught what and how to learn. The teacher is considered to be the expert and directs the learning process. A teacher is someone who is highly trained and works to engage the minds of his or her students. This style of teacher-led instructional continues into higher education, specifically traditional college classrooms. The teacher still stands at the front and center of the class delivering information, and students are used to this format because of their experience in primary education. The instructor disseminates knowledge through a lecture and students study to pass the required examinations or complete other required learning activities.Within higher education, teachers may be called instructors and they are hired as subject matter experts with advanced content knowledge. The job requirements usually include holding a specific number of degree hours in the subject being taught. Teachers may also be called professors in traditional college classes, and those positions require a terminal degree with additional research requirements. For all of these roles, teaching is meant to signify someone who is guiding the learning process by directing, telling, and instructing students. The instructor or professor is in charge, and the students must comply and follow as directed. Here is something to consider: If that is the essence of teaching, is there a difference between that and educating students? Is the role of a teacher the same as that of an educator?What Does It Mean to be an Educator?Consider some basic definitions to begin with as a means of understanding the role of an educator. The word “education” refers to giving instruction; “educator” refers to the person who provides instruction and is someone who is skilled in teaching; and teaching is aligned with providing explanations. I have expanded upon these definitions so that the word “educator” includes someone who is skilled with instruction, possesses highly developed academic skills, and holds both subject matter knowledge and knowledge of adult education principles.Skilled with Instruction: An educator is someone who should be skilled in the art of classroom instruction, knowing what instructional strategies are effective and the areas of facilitation that need further development. An experienced educator develops methods that will bring course materials to life by adding relevant context and prompting students to learn through class discussions and other learning activities. Instruction also includes all of the interactions held with students, including all forms of communication, as every interaction provides an opportunity for teaching.Highly Developed Academic Skills: An educator must also have strong academic skills and at the top of that list are writing skills. This requires strong attention to detail on the part of the educator and in all forms of messages communicated, including anything written, presented, and sent via email. The ability to demonstrate strong academic skills is especially important for anyone who is teaching online classes as words represent the instructor.The use of proper formatting guidelines, according to the style prescribed by the school, is also included in the list of critical academic skills. For example, many schools have implemented APA formatting guidelines as the standard for formatting papers and working with sources. An educator cannot adequately guide students and provide meaningful feedback if the writing style has not been mastered.Strong Knowledge Base: An educator needs to develop a knowledge base that contains subject matter expertise, as related to the course or courses they are teaching, along with knowledge of adult education principles. I know of many educators who have the required credit hours on their degree transcripts, yet they may not have extensive experience in the field they teach. This will still allow these educators to teach the course, provided that they take time to read the course textbook and find methods of applying it to current practices within the field.Many schools hire adjuncts with extensive work experience as the primary criteria, rather than knowledge of adult learning principles. Those instructors I have worked with who do have a strong adult education knowledge base generally acquired it through ongoing professional development. That was my goal, when I decided on a major for my doctoral degree, to understand how adults learn so that I could transform from an instructor to an educator.Becoming an Engaging and Highly Effective EducatorI do not believe that many instructors intentionally consider the need to make a transformation from working as an instructor to functioning as an educator. When someone is hired to teach a class, someone other than a traditional college professor, they often learn through practice and time what works well in the classroom. There will likely be classroom audits and recommendations made for ongoing professional development. Gradually the typical instructor will become an educator as they seek out resources to help improve their teaching practices. However, I have worked with many adjunct online instructors who rely on their subject matter expertise alone and do not believe there is a reason to grow as an educator. For anyone who would like to make the transformation and become an engaging and highly effective educator, there are steps that can be taken and practices that can be implemented.Step One: Continue to Develop Your Instructional PracticeWhile any educator can learn through time on the job, it is possible to become intentional about this growth. There are numerous online resources, publications, workshops, webinars, and professional groups that would allow you to learn new methods, strategies, and practices. There are also social media websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter that allow for the exchange of ideas and resources within a global community of educators.You can also utilize self-reflection as a means of gauging your effectiveness. I have found that the best time to review my instructional practice occurs immediately after a class concludes. That is a time when I can assess the strategies I have used and determine if those methods were effective. Even reviewing end of course student surveys may provide insight into the perspective of my students.Step Two: Continue to Develop Your Academic SkillsI know from my work with online faculty development that this is an area of development that many educators could use. However, it is often viewed as a low priority – until it is noted in classroom audits. If an educator has weak academic writing skills, it will interfere with their ability to provide comprehensive feedback for students. For online instructors, that has an even greater impact when posted messages contain errors with spelling, grammar, and formatting. The development of academic skills can be done through the use of online resources or workshops. Many online schools I have worked for offer faculty workshops and this is a valuable self-development resource.Step Three: Continue to Develop Your Subject Matter ExpertiseEvery educator has subject matter expertise that they can draw upon. However, the challenge is keeping that knowledge current as you continue to teach for several years. The best advice I can offer is to find resources that allow you to read and learn about current thinking, research, and best practices in your chosen field. This is essential to your instructional practice as students can ascertain whether you appear to be current in your knowledge, or outdated and seemingly out of touch. Even the use of required textbooks does not ensure that you are utilizing the most current information as knowledge evolves quickly in many fields.Step Four: Continue to Develop Your Knowledge of Adult LearningThe last step or strategy that I can recommend is to gain knowledge about adult learning theories, principles, and practices. If you are not familiar with the basics there are concepts you can research and include critical thinking, andragogy, self-directed learning, transformational learning, learning styles, motivation, and cognition. My suggestion is to find and read online sources related to higher education and then find a subject that interests you to research further. I have found that the more I read about topics I enjoy, the more I am cultivating my interest in ongoing professional development. What you will likely find is that what you learn will have a positive influence on your work as an educator and will enhance all areas of your instructional practice.Working as an educator, or someone who is highly engaged in the process of helping students learn, starts with a commitment to make this a career rather than a job. I have developed a vision related to how I want to be involved in each class I teach and I recommend the same strategy for you. You may find it useful to develop teaching goals for your career and link your classroom performance to those goals. For example, do you want to complete the required facilitation tasks or would you rather put in the additional time necessary to create nurturing class conditions?After developing a vision and teaching goals, you can create a professional development plan to prompt your learning and growth in all of the areas I have addressed above. While this strategy may require an investment of time, it is helpful to remember that we always make time for whatever we believe is most important. Being an educator is not sustaining a focus on job functions, rather it is cultivating a love of what you do and learning how to excel for the benefit of your students. Becoming an engaging and highly effective educator occurs when you decide that teaching students is only part of the learning process, and you work to transform who you are and how you function, while working and interacting with your students.

Auto Insurance Does Not Mean The Same Things To People In The Financial Profession

It is amazing how much literature has been written about the car insurance business online. The main approach in use by the bulk of the writings is in the direction of selling car insurance, rather than offer it in the proper context of insurance product or ‘a product to protect your assets and wealth.’ That is why when searching for the phrase ‘auto insurance’ a large number of websites emerge with the ‘selling’ phrases like affordable auto insurance, or cheap auto insurance or low cost auto insurance.In the early part of 2011 and according to Google AdWords there were 8,100; 74,000; 9,900 monthly searches for the above key phrases, respectively. On the other hand, there were only 110 searches for the phrase ‘reliable auto insurance’, 170 searches for ‘quality auto insurance’, and 8,100 for ‘top auto insurance companies.’ It is rather easy to conclude that most of the searches on line are about price, not quality of insurance.A basic principle in marketing is to understand what people ‘want’ and design and package your product or service to meet what the folks want. Looking at those numbers we can tell that most people want cheap auto insurance. As a marketer, if you design any campaign without considering that analysis you may eventually flunk the marketing tests, close your website and go do something else.So what’s the difference between auto insurance polices? From a ‘financial planning viewpoint’ car insurance comparison should never be based on price only, and perhaps most people agree that cheap insurance is not necessarily the best car insurance. But what most people do not know is that an insurance policy with the best rated company may also be one of the most problematic contract. An auto insurance policy should be compared in reference with three factors:1. Price: of course the cheaper the better.2. Company Rating: Non standard companies are more flexible than their standard or preferred counterparts with regard to past violations found on the MVR activities of the drivers and the credit score of the car insurance applicants. However, non standard companies are harsher than others in customer service and paying claims. Most of complains come from non standard insurance companies. While preferred companies do not hesitate to quickly pay for smaller claims suck as seven or eight thousand dollars claim, or even little more; all companies from top to bottom will try to examine the application to see if they have to or do not have to pay a $100,000 claim.3. Liability Limits. This is the most ignored, least understood, but is the most important aspect of the policy which affect customers during time they need the insurance. It measures how much protection you have in the event you get sued. A professional financial advisor will never ever sell you an auto insurance policy at low limits if he/she has enough information that you and your spouse have enough wealth to be sued for in the event that you or a family household member cause a major auto accident and your car insurance pays the maximum on the policy which turns out not to be enough.There are many insurance policies sold with superior insurance companies at the lowest liability limits mandated by the state. In the State of Illinois these limits are 20/40/15, which means that in the event you cause an accident that is your fault and you get sued by others, then your company will pay to others on your behalf no more than $20,000 for bodily injury for one person, no more than $40,000 for bodily injury for all other people in the accident, and a maximum of $15,000 for any and all property damage you case in that accident. If you are a business owner and you cause a major accident resulting in a unbeaten lawsuit of $300,000 and your insurance company maxed the payment on the policy and paid $20,000, the difference of $280,000 will have to come from your own money!Financial Planners and Auto Insurance Marketers Are Not in HarmonyFinancial planners are not in harmony with insurance marketers about the weight that needs to be placed on limits of liability in auto insurance. Marketers like to stress the aspects of price and company rating, while financial planners like to stress the importance of liability limits first, then company rating second, and perhaps price at a later stage.Although financial planners and auto insurance marketers have the common goals of maximizing their earnings while providing their services, the scope of their operations is different. Auto insurance marketers make their money by selling as many polices as they can have. The marketer does his best to make as many sales as possible, hence making small amount of money on too many policies sold. Financial planners work differently as they try to make big money from each of the few number of customers they have. Selling an auto policy is not the primary concern of a financial planner, but for him or her auto insurance is one of the fundamental subjects of the financial planning process.Car insurance agents look at auto insurance as a way to protect the car itself in the event of theft, fire or another loss, besides the fact that it’s the law. Financial planners look at auto insurance as an integral part of their clients risk management process. To the financial planner an auto policy is not to repair the car in the event of loss, but is mainly about protecting the assets and wealth of the insured, especially against potential lawsuits.Some auto insurance marketers would even suggest to cut down on liability insurance as a way to save money. No sound financial planner will ever make such a suggestion. No way!When does height matter?How high your liability limits should be is the main issue that should prevail when you buy car insurance. You probably need only the minimum liability limits mandated by the states if /when(1) you shopped for higher limits and could not afford it, (2) your current assets or wealth is not big enough to expose you to further lawsuits in the event of at fault auto accident. (3) you are a high risk driver where no one else wants to insure you except at the minimum limits. But, if you have certain amounts of assets and wealth, or is expected to have sizable assets or wealth, then you need to worry about the height of your liability limits.What about if you are not wealthy with plenty of assets? Even for people with little or no wealth, the height of liability limits should be much of a concern to them. This is due to the fact that liability insurance contains certain coverages to pay for your bodily injuries in the event that you get hit by a vehicle that is legally uninsured, or is insured but the insurance on that vehicle was not enough to cover your bodily injuries. According to the Insurance Research Council, approximately 15% to 17% all drivers in the United States are uninsured. Coverages for Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) vary from states to states with regard to their mandatory status and limit amounts. In Illinois UM is mandatory at the limits of $20,000 for bodily injury per person and $40,000 for bodily injury per accident. Underinsured motorists coverage is not mandatory in Illinois but insurance companies must offer it to clients for policies issued with liability over the state limits. Clients can still reject to have higher uninsured/ underinsured motorists but it must be in writing. As you can see, your liability only policy provides coverage for your bodily injuries, and making sure that you have high limits on both liability, UM and UIM can have tremendous effect on your life.

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage In 5 Years

My wife and I were “home buyers” for at least 7 years on our current residence. Notice that I said home “buyers,” and not home “owners.” There is a common misconception that when you take out a mortgage, you are immediately a home “owner”

Assuming that you have a 30 year mortgage, the reality is that you are simply in the process of buying the home over a 30 year period. The bank, is the true owner of the property. If you don’t believe me, try missing a few mortgage payments, and see what happens.

3 months ago, we paid off our 30 year mortgage (in 7 years, or 23 years early). Now we are true home “owners.” In this article, I’m going to show you step by step how we were able to accomplish this. Using our existing income, and without incurring any additional debt.

Equity

Let’s talk about “Equity.” Equity, or appreciation, is the difference between what your home is worth and what you owe to the bank. So if you owe $100,000 and your house is worth $300,000, then you have $200,000 of Equity in your home.

We had roughly $250,000 of Equity on our house. We owed the bank $115,000 and our house was worth $367,000.

This $250,000 is dormant. Meaning, it looks good, but it wasn’t doing anything for us.

Home-Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

So the first thing that we did was we ‘tapped’ into this equity. We went to the bank and took out an Home Equity Line of Credit for $50,000.

What is an equity line of credit? Also called a HELOC, an home equity line of credit is a liquid line that you are able to draw funds from at any time for any purpose. It’s like a gigantic credit card.

Although the HELOC had a limit for $50,000, the amount that we owed on it was $0 at the time that we took it out. This is because, similar to a credit card, you don’t owe anything until you actually use it.

Use HELOC to Pay Down Mortgage

Immediately after we got the HELOC, we withdrew $20,000 and applied it to our Mortgage (additional principal payment).

So at this point, we have $20,000 due on the HELOC, but our mortgage has been paid down by $20,000 (from $115,000 to $95,000).

Use HELOC as “new” Checking Account

Before I go on, let me mention that after we used the $20,000 to pay down our mortgage, we still had the same $115,000 of debt ($20,000 on HELOC and $95,000 on Mortgage).

So to payoff the HELOC, we just used it as our new checking account. When we got paid, we took 100% of our paychecks and applied it to the HELOC.

Now you may be wondering, “with all of our money going to the HELOC, how did we pay our bills?” Remember the HELOC is a “liquid” line. So at the end of each month, we made 1 withdrawal from the HELOC to pay our bills (including our mortgage).

100% of Cash Flow

For us, our monthly paychecks totaled roughly $6,000. Our bills, including our mortgage, and all of our living expenses (gas, groceries, etc.) totaled approximately $3,500. So by applying 100% of our monthly checks to the HELOC, and then using the HELOC to pay our bills, we were able to use 100% of our monthly cash flow to pay the $20,000 HELOC off.

So with and estimated $2,500 of cash flow ($6,000 minus $3,500) the $20,000 was paid off in 8 months.

Repeat The Process

We repeated this process until the remaining $95,000 was paid off (approximately 2 years).

What Do You Need?

1. Cash Flow – You must have positive cash flow in your household budget

2. Credit Score – A decent credit score (650 or above)

3. Equity – Positive equity in your home.

What You Should Know

VERY IMPORTANT: The HELOC should be used to paydown your mortgage. It should not be used to fund a vacation, buy a car, or a boat.

ALSO IMPORTANT: The HELOC is not a Home Equity Loan (HEL). A Home Equity Loan is a 2nd mortgage, and it is treated the same.