Reimagining Remote Teaching Volume 25 | GCTC

Reimagining Remote Teaching Volume 25

by Dr. Kerri McKenna - March 24, 2021

I know the last few articles have been focusing on growing our professional selves and our responsibilities to our students. I have defined what professional development truly is, I brought up Faculty Learning Communities, and I have even provided you with possible topics for the 2021 – 2022 year to get your juices flowing. Now, it is my turn to tell you what I plan to explore next year. 

First off, I want everyone to know that you are more than welcome to join me in studying this topic in a formal Faculty Learning Community. If no one joins me, please know I will be joining one of the accountability groups to help share my findings and complete my own exploration.

My topic is one I have been mulling around since my 5th year of teaching when I was left not knowing what to think after hearing about an experience from a student. I kept this thought in my head during my doctoral work, and it even influenced my dissertation. It was a motivating factor in my desire to become a foster and adoptive parent as well. All three of these experiences taught me to see people and value them differently than I ever have before. The title of my research is going to be (drum roll, please):

The Black and Blue Classroom: Abusive power struggles in higher education

The thought first came to me in my 20s. A student was very upset walking into my classroom. She had just experienced a very challenging moment in her previous class and was sobbing in mine. I spoke with her privately, and the things she described to me were the same issues I had just learned about in yet another trauma training my school provided weekly from the night before.

She described feeling humiliated because the instructor was harshly criticizing her work. She stated that the instructor commented that the whole class was “stupid” because they didn’t perform well on a test. She went on to explain how the instructor was condescending and spoke to them like children. When students tried to explain their side of things, the instructor immediately shifted blame onto them and took no responsibility for not providing promised study materials for topics not covered in the book or class, but which appeared on the exam.

The emotions she experienced, and the actions of the instructor, were classic verbal and emotional abuse tactics.

For years, I have observed how I have always worked to negate these tactics in my own classroom through active learning, student feedback and survey channels, and extensive self-reflection over lessons and assignments. Yet, I have never taken the time to consider this topic intentionally.

Next year, I plan on making it intentional with the sole purpose of writing about the topic and beginning a research project to explore its overall effectiveness when we remove the abusive power struggles between faculty and students.