NORFOLK, Neb. - The theme for this year’s in-service session for part-time faculty at Northeast Community College was quite appropriate. Over 200 adjunct and early college instructors participated in the session, dubbed “Wild Ride,” as they prepare for the fall semester.
In a normal year, this particular in-service is held in person on Northeast’s Norfolk and South Sioux City campuses. With the pandemic still rearing its ugly head, instructors participated in one of three sessions that were held virtually through Zoom from the Norfolk campus.
Dr. Leah Barrett, Northeast president, said the college’s over 300 part-time and dual credit faculty members play an important role in the success of students and the institution.
“They bring a wealth of experiences and a variety perspectives and interests into our classrooms which, in turn, develop into excellent instruction to our students,” Barrett said. “I am so appreciative that they have decided to join us and work with our full-time faculty and staff and share their time and talents as we deliver a quality educational product to our students.”
The in-service allowed adjunct and early college faculty to get updates on the college and their respective divisions. Other items included training and tips that will allow all instructors to use Zoom, record videos, as well as technology updates and the role of teaching during the pandemic.
Barrett told the instructors that COVID-19 has challenged everyone to think outside the box for all parts of their lives, including their work.
“As an adjunct or early college faculty member from Northeast Community College, we ask that you create a classroom environment, being it virtual, online or in-person, where your teaching leads to effective student learning.”
Stacey Aldag, math instructor, and Anthony Beardslee, audio recording technology instructor, led a session on utilizing technology in their classes, as many will be held virtually, while others will be more online and synchronous online (virtual). There will be limited face-to-face classes.
Beardslee said it has been a learning experience since everyone moved classes online in the spring when COVID-19 hit. He said the spring semester stretched all instructors in terms of their technical capabilities, as well as discovering what they could accomplish by teaching online.
“If you would have asked me two-years if I could teach any of my audio recording classes online, I would have said, ’No, they have to be in person.’ But, the pandemic forced us to be innovative and see what exactly we can accomplish online.”
Beardslee and Aldag’s presentation was based on what worked in the spring and where there was room for improvement, but still allows for all instructors to give the best experience possible to their students.
“Some of our students are well equipped to succeed at taking online classes, but most of them are not,” Beardslee said. “We’re trying to make a situation where they are as comfortable as they can be taking classes online. We want to make this as comfortable as we can and not get overwhelmed.”
Aldag added, “We know if we engage our students, they will have more success in the long haul.”
Northeast staff members also added some levity to the in-service session by incorporating a short video skit tied to the theme. It featured a mix of song and poetic recitations that highlighted programming in each of the college’s divisions, dual credit offerings, Adult Education and extended campuses.
Dr. Michele Gill, interim vice president of educational services, stressed the importance of safety protocols, such as the wearing of face masks, when necessary, and wiping down or disinfecting equipment if instructors are in any of the limited face-to-face classes that will be offered.
“Some of you have programs that you have to teach and do many things that are hands-on. And in doing that, we want you and your students to be safe, so that means you’ll have to take a little bit of extra time to do it the right way,” Gill said.
Northeast early college instructors teaching at area high schools will follow their school’s academic schedule during fall while part-time instructors teaching directly through Northeast will stick to the fall academic calendar at the College from August 17-November 25.
“We all hope you have a great semester,” Gill told the part-time instructors at the conclusion of the session. “We know there may be some challenges, but we all know that you’re up to the task.”
Dr. Michelle Gill, interim vice president of educational services at Northeast Community College, speaks to adjunct and early college instructors during an in-service session recently. Our over 300 part-time and dual credit faculty members teach for Northeast.