Time for a deep breath
This blog goes a bit dormant when I am back in USA. I returned to my teaching job at an Associate Degree nursing program in Tampa Florida where I carried an ambitious schedule. I was still commuting from Tampa to the Plant City campus, where I taught one section each of the three main courses of the first semester. Here in Tampa I spent the first six Saturdays helping out in the skills lab of our evening/weekend group. I brought two clinical groups to one of the largest most diversified medical centers in the state.
I was busy.
Over Christmas break I am finally able to be back in Ivory Tower mode. Til now, every time I have had a break I go to Nepal, or to the Pine Tree State (Maine) where one of my daughters is fixing up a house with my son-in-law. I was there last Christmas during a cold and dark time, in a partially-heated building, living like somebody “North of the Wall” in Game of Thrones.
This time I decided not to go anywhere, and to simply catch up on things.
For spring semester I will still teach the classroom and skills lab of the groups in Plant City, but cut back to just one clinical group which will be here in Tampa. For three days a week, my commuting time will now be much shorter. This ought to simplify my life. Click here for a short video of me inspecting my student’s work at clinical.
Our program uses a computer-based course software system as all colleges do nowadays. Ours is “Canvas.” When it is realizing its potential, Canvas is an amazing online guide, with a grade book, discussion boards, a syllabus, a set of calendars one for each course, and a smartphone app that allows everyone to view assignments and get reminders to keep on track. The problem with Canvas is that it is only as good as the content that is uploaded to it. In the past semesters I usually returned to Tampa just a short time before the upcoming first day of classes, then threw it together in a general way. I uploaded the bare bones of the courses I taught, and I added more as the weeks of the semester ticked by. When you teach the same course for consecutive semesters, you can export the previous content to the new course. In this way my Canvas pages accumulated a volume of content that kept the students mostly happy.
I began to prepare for Spring 2019 by importing my content, giving myself a nice starting point. After all, the bones of the course are dictated by the overall curriculum and I already know what we will discuss in Week 11 for example. What is new is that I am taking ample time to enhance the content in such a way as to provide the clearest possible directions to the students for them to meet all our target outcomes.
Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa
Last semester we changed from the second edition of our main text to the third, but I did not revise all the reading assignments according to the new pagination. We adopted a new companion workbook but I only assigned things from it for part of the time. These days I am going through lists of reading assignments and double-checking to eliminate or minimize the inaccuracy. Looking at the textbooks myself to make sure I can refer the students to various places they need to go. Maximizing workbook assignments and pro-actively thinking of ways to do in-class exercises to support each one. Also, finding relevant videos to accompany the class sessions.
The Teacher’s “Craft”
This type of planning is what we call the craft of educational design from a classroom management viewpoint. It seems simple an elegant for the student but when you take it apart it has depth that may not be immediately apparent. I am not a fan of detailed work like this but it was overdue. When I assign the students to go to page 2494 and find exemplar 36A, they will find the page number matches the location. I have a library of PowerPoints to accompany the course, and a supply of activities we can do in class as group work.
It will be grand!
Video, Narrated PowerPoint, etc
YouTube is still somewhat new, but it seems as though many people have uploaded bits and pieces of video that amplify or clarify areas of content that we all share. These days there is so much video available, that if I go through the trouble to find it and evaluate it ( “curate it” in the lingo of today’s youth) I can string it together so that there is a reference lecture on video to accompany just about every section. When I add each link I am careful to include the length of the video. When the students access the smartphone app, they will be able to call up a number of pre-recorded files, so they can listen while driving, or also watch the videos anywhere they may go, to fit whatever time is available. The on-line component is so strong that it is approaching the level of an online course. With any luck the classroom portion will take it up a notch.
Renowned Faculty with Guest Lecturers from Australia, Kerala India, New York City, and California. I may be the lead teacher in the three courses, but now the virtual course faculty includes about fifty other experts on various other topics, delivering well-researched material with often excellent graphics. It frees up our face-to-face meeting time so we can discuss the material and apply it, instead of transmitting facts and things to memorize.
Do you need an example? this clicking on this video of nurse doing a head-to-toe assessment. We spend weeks teaching the components of this and I always end up modeling how to do it. There needs to be a system but it requires the nurse or nursing student to be interactive. In the video, the nurse hits all the major points. Not only that, but the same people re-did the video with a voice-over play-by-play worthy of Major League Baseball. Sharing this with the students will point the way for them. And yes, this shows a big part of what hospital nurses do all day.
I am also taking time to relax, just enjoying my flat. I decided to splurge and get myself some presents – a book I wanted, a small white elephant, a spice rack for the kitchen – that sort of thing. It’s the nice weather season in Florida and I am also trying to ride each day. In about ten days we start the Spring semester. I will be ready!