With today’s complex health care system, nurses already work at a challenging pace to keep up with not only their patients, but continuing their own education. Whether that education supports their licensure or involve actively pursuing higher level education, the adult learner must be supported in a positive learning environment. As a nurse educator, I play a key role in promoting a stimulating environment for learning. A vast majority of my teaching experience has ensued non-traditional students, I have associated my teaching philosophy directly to Malcolm Knowles and the theory of Andragogy.
My goal as an educator is to enhance my adult learners to get them personally involved with their course content. The students must not only discuss what they are learning, but relate it to past experiences and apply it to their daily lives. Additionally, it is about engaging the student by utilizing numerous teaching strategies in one setting. The job of an educator creates a transformation of learning by sharing stories, reflection, games, and collaborative learning methods. These active teaching methods promote participation and learning for the students, which also integrates mutuality to everyone involved. According to Knowles (1997) adult learners are self-directed and motivated to learn, in addition to Knowles assertions, educators must not only maintain these characteristics but foster a strong relationship between student and faculty. Frequent student contact and involvement (especially online courses) is an impacting factor in retaining student motivation and participation.
Education is about communicating high expectations and extraordinary performance. As an educator, I expect more from my students and see the results of their perseverance and extra efforts. However, a key piece to teaching is valuing and acculturating each individual’s diverse talents and learning styles. One must be accepting and supportive of the students’ learning needs, while advocating a strong collegial work environment, and aligning with the organizational mission and philosophy statement.
My job as an educator is to connect with each student’s abilities and facilitate knowledge building, confidence, and the necessary framework to succeed.
A native of Saginaw, Michigan, Dr. Fitzke has lived in Nebraska for 16 years. She has over nine years of teaching experience in nursing education and over twenty years of clinical experience. Her nursing practice background includes medical-surgical, oncology, hospice, Intensive care, and trauma surgery-specializing in pediatrics and general surgery.
She is married to NWU alum, Dr. Greg Fitzke and they have three daughters. Dr. Fitzke is an avid runner and enjoys spending time with her family.