A TASTE OF MY OWN MEDICINE


Distance education

Distance education (Photo credit: mcwetboy)

08-22-2012

Adjunct Orientation

“Kim. I’ve submitted your name to the Dean for Distance Learning.”

Strains of “Hallelujah Chorus” streamed from the ceiling and swelled in the hallways.  Sexual harassment be damned, I  hauled off and hugged my Department Chair.

“Thank you! When do I start?”

I’ve waited for this opportunity since a   friend  started teaching online.

“How do you get on?” I asked her, one day.

“Simple. Just put in your name for it. When there’s a spot, someone will call you.”

Imagining myself  learning the trade at my own pace, setting my own virtual office hours, and teaching computer-savvy students, I wasted no time in tossing my name into the hat.

After a five-year lapse,  the opportunity presented itself  with a shiny, red bow.  My colleagues rejoiced.

“You’ll never have to  worry about not having a class.”

“Even when you’re in a  retirement home, you can teach class from your laptop.”

Now, as I sit in the sparsely-populated Distance Learning Orientation, search for the “Any” key, and read and re-read instructions intended for the Geek Squad, I can identify with my students’ frustration with my well-intentioned instructions for “simply” logging on to the school site or www.turnitin.com.

“What’s the matter?” I felt like asking them, in the past.  “You have photos, diagrams…cave-man drawings…right in front of you, so why can’t you upload  your papers by the deadline?”

Now, here I am in their seats.  Now, I understand.

Once, I saw a movie about a doctor who became more empathetic with his patients after becoming a patient, himself. Wearing the same gaping hospital gowns. Being roused from  a sound sleep for tests in the middle of the night.  Choking down hospital food he wouldn’t feed his dog.  Reclaiming his dignity and self- respect only after he walked through  his own front door.

Last night and most of today, after I nearly pulled my hair out and almost forgot my Christian upbringing over the frustration of having to repeat an activity at least ten times, could I relate with what my students must feel.  I expect that trading places with them for  six weeks will refresh my memory and restore my empathy for those young people  on the sunny side  of  my desk.

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5 thoughts on “A TASTE OF MY OWN MEDICINE

  1. Joanna Aislinn says:

    I remember that movie wel, Kim. Good luck. Just think how empowered you’ll feel once you get thought the learning and ‘beta’ stage of this new undertaking.

    • kimterry says:

      Thannks for the comment, Jane. Yes, it’s already getting pretty intense. Today, for example, I noticed the new assignment: a storyboard. (Not the kind of storyboard we writers are used to doing, though. Still, I’m determined!

    • kimterry says:

      Jane, I just got through telling my students, last night, that I am now getting a taste of their frustrations with the computer. As a result, I’m more careful to go more slowly through processes with them. Some are just now re-entering school after long absences from the academic setting. Yes, computers have muscled their way into traditional, face-to-face classes, as well. Kim Terry Adjunct Instructor of English Tarrant County College Southeast Campus ESEE 2302A 2100 Southeast Parkway, Arlington, TX 76018-3144 Ofc 817-515-3400 kim.terry@tccd.edu ________________________________________

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