Volume 1: Reimagining Remote Teaching, Issue 13 | GCTC

Volume 1: Reimagining Remote Teaching, Issue 13

by Dr. Kerri McKenna - November 10, 2020

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) defines a concept of how well prepared they are to handle a sudden influx of patients and maintain a well-functioning management system with personnel, resources, and space as their Surge Capacity. Simply put, Surge capacity is how well an emergency room and hospital can handle a crisis. 

We’ve been hearing about the concept of Surge Capacity for months now, as medical experts tell us we need to make sure we do our best to regulate Covid numbers so hospitals do not become too overwhelmed, and, ultimately, run out of well-managed surge capacity.

Unfortunately, this concept has left our medical fields and has now entered our classrooms. Yes, it is different, but it is still the same. 

Teaching virtually and within socially distanced labs has asked us all to handle a sudden influx of teaching modifications while maintaining a well-functioning classroom with students, blackboard spaces, and articulate lessons being delivered daily. The end result? Well, I have two.

Result #1

The first is an incredibly dedicated faculty I am so honored to call friends because of how well each of you stepped up to the challenge. Since July 1, the Center for Teaching and Learning has had 884 interactions with faculty as they talk through their classes. Over the past 97 workdays, that breaks down to an average of 9 faculty a day who actively sought to make their virtual classrooms the best they can possibly be. Over the course of each week, 45 of you, or more than 50% of the FT faculty, fought hard to keep your students engaged. 

And these are the faculty members I engaged. This number does not reflect the eLearning team. They have been busy fielding questions. And, we cannot forget our tireless Deans who work long hours to meet their deadlines and serve you by answering questions and overcoming obstacles. 

You all inspire me.

Please. Let me say this again. YOU ALL INSPIRE ME.

Not once did you say the proverbial “bah humbug”. Instead, you said “how can we make this work?”

You’ve spent countless hours redeveloping your courses so they could be put online. You’ve creatively worked to overcome Mute & Walks, and you have probably learned more about Blackboard in 19 weeks than you ever thought you could!

Even though you are tired, I hear the laughter in your messages (or is that just slap-happy giggling?), your texts, your emails, and phone calls. The positive energy you exhibit despite the exhaustion is there for our primary purpose at Gateway: to give your students a meaningful educational experience because you care for their success. 

Result #2

Unfortunately, even with our positive, student first mindset, most of us have reached our surge capacity. While we are digging deep to finish our last 3.5 weeks strong and focused on our students, our mental, physical, and emotional capacity is about spent.

With a new holiday season upon us, one which will look much different than our previous years, we are feeling it even more. 

It’s ok to admit we are tired and worn out. It’s ok to feel like we could climb into bed Wednesday evening of Thanksgiving break, remain there for four days, and still come out exhausted for our 8am classes on Monday morning.

It’s ok if we say I have reached my surge capacity. It’s ok if we seek self-care activities.

What’s not ok is giving in to the temptation to not look at the incredible work we have accomplished this semester. What’s not ok is letting the semester end without a bit of celebration with our students at the end of a crazy semester. What’s not ok is ignoring everything we dug deep to give over the past 4 months.

We moved mountains. We turned a pandemic teaching opportunity into one our colleagues throughout the system and our neighboring 4-year colleges are just now exploring. We became leaders in our community. 

Now, it is time to find out how it went. 

seek Feedback

Students will complete their traditional course evals at the end of the semester. However, we will not get those results until early January. 

With this in mind, I am going to encourage you to seek feedback from your students before the end of the semester on what worked so you can successfully plan for Spring 2021.

Consider asking students to anonymously provide feedback to you on another Microsoft form. Ask them an overall ranking for the course, what activities they liked the most, how you can build community, how they felt about your Bb layout, and what recommendations they have for improvement.

Planning for Spring 2021

Once you have received your feedback and have submitted your final grades for the semester, join us (eLearning, Faculty, T&LC) the week of December 14th to explore our cumulative feedback to provide informed best practices for the following semester. 

This will allow you to enter our much-needed break with a closed laptop and an opportunity to let go of the mental and emotional energy we expend each day to make sure our classes are the best they can be.

We need this. We need a chance to allow our Surge Capacity to reset and become balanced again. And the only way we can do this is by talking BEFORE we leave for the semester. Not after we get back.

Look for our collaborative sessions to be sent out for the week of December 14th. In the meantime, if you need assistance with creating a Microsoft Survey, please do not hesitate to reach out!

Finally, please know how incredibly honored I am to call each of you a colleague and a friend. Thank you for inspiring me to be my best this semester. I couldn’t have done it without you.