I haven’t taught online since TCC took developmental reading and writing out of the online offerings, but I really feel like this has been a great experience so far. I am definitely “learning on the go,” but as crazy as this might sound—I enjoy every bit of it. For the first time in a while, I really feel like I am back in the “new student” seat—learning something new, being expected to understand it and do something with it almost right away. It’s teaching-and-learning coming full circle! That’s what drew me into this work in the first place, so it stands to reason that a good, strong dose of it every now and then is kind of refreshing.
It’s not to say there aren’t challenges. Some students hate Proctorio—I get it, and I show empathy, listen and address their concerns, but I am firm that we are using it. Some have never navigated this much on their devices; I realize they will need more time—there isn’t any way around that. Some students don’t have everything they need. This calls for flexibility. I’ve had to pull teeth to get students to share their faces even though they saw each other twice a week right up until before Spring Break. Whaaat?? Really??? Yes. And I have had to learn a TON about troubleshooting (What operating system are you using? What browser are you using? What do you see on your screen? Have you cleared your cache? No, not cash, cache… Let me walk you through it…).
From day one of this new reality, I have taught synchronously during our regular class meeting times to keep things as close to consistent as possible. I run two screens on my end (one is just my phone/tablet showing my email, because I’ve told them if ANYTHING goes wrong, email me immediately; I’ll be watching for it). So, this morning, while nine students patiently waited, watched and chatted among themselves, I called a student on my cell phone and walked her through getting into the online session, because she had emailed me in a panic, and she already missed the session last week. It took about five minutes, and once I could see on my end that she was successfully joining, I resumed class. I am confident that she will get in successfully on her own on Wednesday. Was it worth the five minutes to stop class for a human voice-to-voice conversation and a little hand-holding? Of course, it was. It was a success and a learning moment, and it empowered the student to continue rather than leaving her frustrated.
When I was a newbie at TCC, another employee (Amos Gaines, TCC Southeast Media) mentored me in “the way of things at TCC.” One thing I’ll never forget is that he said I needed to always be ready to be “flexible and accommodating.” That was more than 15 years ago, and it is as relevant today as it was that day. So, what do I do? Tell my students that we’re going to get through this, but they need to be willing to be “flexible and accommodating.”
An associate professor of reading at TCC Southeast, Jacqueline Minor is the mother of three who likes to be outside enjoying the sky, plants and water. Her special interest include Financial Education, Christian Education and Adult Developmental Education.
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