Welcome new BYU-Idaho instructors. I am thankful that you are here and are preparing to start teaching in the coming weeks and days. This experience will be a blessing in your lives, and will be a blessing to many students as well.
As you explore your online instruction community and your course before the semester starts, I invite you to pay special attention to our instructor standards...not only because these are the criteria by which we are all evaluated, but because I feel these standards can guide your efforts in becoming a fabulous, BYU-Idaho-style online instructor.
This week in Devotional we heard from our university Human Resources director. He shared a story from his son currently serving a mission in Brazil that made me think of our efforts with students. He described a scene where his son was to baptize a couple new converts, but no water came from the font tap. Ward members all pitched in and scrambled to find anything and everything to fill the font from water sources all over the church and grounds. Little children ran with individual cups between the kitchen and font. Slowly, but surely the font was filled in time for the baptism....one cup at a time.
So, what might that story have to do with us? As I listened, I thought this is similar to our role. We are helping students fill their spiritual and intellectual reservoirs*...and it doesn't happen all at once. Students take multiple classes from different teachers, and are ready for different things at different times. In our brief time with these students, they may receive from us a cup-full, or a bucket-full. I'm not sure that we control the amount, but we can be sure that if we're prepared to teach in the Learning Model style, and have the Spirit with us, that we will have contributed meaningfully and all involved "may be edified". (D&C 88:122)
I know it may be too early to know, but I'd love to hear some of your ideas on either of these questions:
- What do you expect will be your personal biggest contribution to your students?
- What is your value add to the online course BYU-Idaho has prepared for you and your students?
*We have to be a little careful with this metaphor as President Uchtdorf reminded us a few years ago about our role in lighting fires in students, rather than filling buckets [heads] with knowledge. That said, the one-cup-at-a-time metaphor still struck me as poignant as I listened to it in relation to our influence with students.