Faculty Spotlight: Meet Online Early Childhood Education Instructor Kellie Alston
- Bachelors in Elementary Education, Winston-Salem State University
- Masters of Education in Curriculum Instruction, UNC at Greensboro
- Doctoral Candidate, Instructional Design, Keiser University
Kellie Alston is a native of Durham, N.C. She has been teaching Early Childhood Education courses for both on-campus and online students at North Carolina Central University since 2004.
Currently, Alston teaches a wide range of online courses, which include, Introduction to the Education of the Young Child, Prenatal, Infant, and Toddler Development, Typical and Atypical Preschool Development, and Guiding Behavior in Young Children.
According to Alston, her favorite part of teaching is extracting from students what they didn’t know existed inside of them.
“When you set a very high bar as I do, many students feel overwhelmed at first. I tell them that for the first three or four weeks of my class they are going to want to call me names, but after the initial shock of what I expect of them, they will be just fine.”
Alston says she’s often had students to come back later to tell her that that they can’t believe how much they’ve learned. Most students are surprised at how their speaking and presentation skills have improved over the length of the course. Other students are surprised at how much more technologically savvy they have become.
“For me, my joy is complete when I know that not only has a student evolved as a thinker, but has realized that impactful learning stems from a conscientious commitment to personal discovery within a collective.”
Alston utilizes a “cooperative learning” teaching model. Over the course of sixteen weeks, students meet as a full group at first, but as the semester progresses, Alston separates her students into small groups allowing them to get to know five to six of their peers really well over the course of sixteen weeks.
When asked what’s most challenging about her online courses, Alston points to the coursework.
“My courses are very reading and writing intensive. I don’t just use a textbook. Most of all, I expect students to come to class already prepared. My classes are interactive. Students shouldn’t expect to have time to check their Instagram account. I suppose the latter is the most challenging.”
Alston insists that students would perform well early on in her courses if they possessed better study habits and more refined organizational skills.
“When you take a face-to-face course, you know you have to drive campus, get out of your car and actually see people. On the other hand, when you take an online course, no one is going to make you log into your computer. No one is going to make you stay connected with the online community. Taking an online course requires a different level of discipline. Most students don’t initially have the study habits or the organizational skills to succeed as an online student.”
Alston believes part her job is to equip students with skills they can utilize beyond the classroom.
“As an educator, I believe my job is to equip students to be “learning commanders”, that’s what I call it. I want my students to come to realize that higher education is not only just about attaining a degree; it’s about developing a skill set that they can use in all areas of their lives. So, I’m not just teaching you about program development, but I’m also teaching you about speaking, writing, compromising and getting along well with others, skills that will benefit you outside of the academic environment.”
What students say about Online Instructor, Kellie Alston?
Dear Professor Alston,
I know it is late, but I just wanted to take the time to thank you! I was just reading over the feedback that you have provided me, under my assignments. I wanted to inform you that I have just subscribed to Grammarly, and that I am honestly enjoying all three of your courses. I personally feel that you are the first professor that has pushed me to think deeper and improve in many ways in such a short period of time. I am looking forward to the rest of the semester with you.