Building KU's Teaching and Learning Community

KU has created community for teachers
Zach Smith, English

As a first year GTA, I had no idea what to expect going into August. I had never taught a composition course—or any course for that matter—and the thought of attempting to navigate this unknown territory virtually was anxiety-inducing to say the least. Much like the rest of the nation, I felt afraid and confused during a pandemic that reduced any semblance of normalcy to rubble. It is easy to focus on these feelings of despair. It is easy to direct our attention to everything that has changed and everything that has been lost—everything that has been taken from us. 

Despite the many negatives and struggles that we have been presented with so far this year, there have also been countless instances of success that we can instead use to define ourselves. Through focusing on active engagement, prioritizing the educational experience of each learner, and incorporating feedback provided by students, I feel that I have grown as an individual and an academic. Whether I needed support or general encouragement, both First- and Second-Year English and the Center for Teaching Excellence have been there every step of the way. 

As a first year GTA, I am excited for the promise that February holds because of what I have witnessed in August, September, and October. I have seen students adapt to online learning and achieve or improve without constraint. I have seen fellow GTAs tackle issues of accessibility head-on and challenge both themselves and each other to elevate every activity of every day. I have seen my professors accommodate and take adversity in stride, demonstrating leadership in the classroom and inspiring others through example. While nothing is ever perfect, much of my confusion has evaporated. The University of Kansas has done more than provide adequate training—it has created a community that I know I can lean on for support during difficult times. As the semester progresses, I hope that we all continue to grow and overcome together. It is in times like these that I am truly grateful to be a Jayhawk.

News & Notes

CTE Learning Community:  Teaching at a Predominantly White Institution

PWI sessions are held from 12:00 - 12:55 p.m. on alternating Tuesdays, starting Sept. 28th. Please click here to access the full schedule. 

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See how CTE has been helping KU faculty adapt and innovate their teaching.

Visit the Flex Teaching sitewhich provides help for creating flexible courses that can shift between in-person and online.