i “Helicopter” Teaching Allows Students to Soar to New Heights | College Writing: Debate(s) In Higher Education
31. October 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog Post 2

Morgan Tollard

Higher education systems have been evolving in the last couple of decades. Classrooms are being set up more electronic based and teachers are becoming less active throughout the classrooms. Many lessons and academic services are becoming more and more available online for easy access to students. Though the “trend” of higher education may be heading towards this direction, active teaching and in class learning allows for the best environment for students to learn and grow.

“Helicopter” teachers, as described by author Steven Conn, are teachers that are spoon feeding their students through grades, setting goals, grade bias and maintaining personal connections. Conn believes that through these characteristics students will not receive their full potential and lose the ability to think on their own, and therefore teachers shouldn’t hand students their goals to complete so easily. Helicopter teachers are necessary to receive a good education. Throughout high school, I experienced teachers that were at both ends of the spectrum of their involvement within the classroom. Although I agree that teachers need to give enough space for their students to grow on their own, I think a good teacher should be involved in the classroom and approachable to students.

My sophomore year of high school, only two out of my eight teachers were involved with the classroom and considered “helicopter” teachers. In particular, my Spanish and homeroom teacher was very involved in the classroom. He would post assignments in the classroom and online to ensure that we would remember to complete our assignments. He would always share stories of his perseverance through his battle with stomach cancer and related to students. His involvement within the classroom lead to me to succeed very highly in his class, even though Spanish was a challenging course. I continued to have a connection with my teacher all throughout my high school career, even after he moved away my junior year to be closer to home. He came back for our graduation to announce our homeroom classrooms’ names at the ceremony. He passed away shortly after visiting our graduation ceremony, and the amount of sadness his students had, showed how he could connect to many students lives. If he hadn’t had been involved in the classroom and wasn’t a “helicopter” teacher, his impact wouldn’t have been as great and I wouldn’t have had such a successful high school experience. Throughout society there is a negative perception surrounding helicopter teachers and their involvement within the classroom. “Helicopter” teaching is needed to create connections with students and show involvement through student’s education.

It is through these experiences that even though the “trend” of higher education may be heading towards electronic based and teachers are becoming less active throughout the classrooms, it is important that active teaching and in class learning is present to allow for the best environment for students to learn and grow. Students can engage in lectures and hear multiple opinions. In-class lectures, can teach many social skills that online learning simply can’t. As stated in Brook’s article, “The most important and paradoxical fact shaping the future of online learning is this: A brain is not a computer. We are not blank hard drives waiting to be filled with data. People learn from people they love and remember the things that arouse emotion.” Through in-class learning students can absorb information better and learn skills through social learning that a computer can’t offer. It through face-to-face contact that students are able to better formulate opinions and questions through engaging with peers. In-class lectures allows students to absorb, reflect and produce information with emotion and other perspective.

Not only does online learning lose the emotional perspective, but it makes it difficult information difficult to understand. Through online courses students can’t hear lectures and are forced to read the material to understand. Students aren’t able to ask any arising questions to a professor from the material as well. These factors create online learning confusing and hard to engage in.

After being asked to complete an online lesson and an in-class lecture on claims, student Alexandria Floodstrand reflected:

“Throughout my experience on the online lesson Grounds For Argument “Make a claim that is contestable and supportable” was very interesting to test out the College world of an Online Class. I have taken online classes in High School so is wasn’t hard to get used to the formatting. I understand the concept of a claim because I have been taught and practiced the concept of claim before. However, if I was totally new to the concept of a claim, I’m unaware of how confident I would be about understanding a claim as well of the other topics. One of the issues with online courses this one in particularly it has the too much wording on a page. For me, this makes me want to skip it and it makes it more confusing than it should be. Despite the long worded concept pages, this lesson was a bit simpler to understand since main concept claims were repeated many times. It also was faster than a regular lecture because I could go on my pace.  Even though, I understood the lesson, I do not prefer online learning and I believe the in-person class is the best way to learn.”

In-class lectures provide a communication base for students to learn through many ways, not just through reading material and trying to formulate the main concepts on your own. Through in-class lectures students can ask any arising questions and practice aspects of the lesson in the classroom, leading to an engaging and learning atmosphere. Using active teaching and classroom structure students will be able to grow and succeed.

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