Thursday, September 20, 2012

Some Challenges Along the Way

I would be remiss if I did not address the challenges that came with flipping the Intro to Ancient Rome class.  I will write about the challenges of the flipped classroom in a separate post at a later date.  In this post, I want to touch on the challenges I faced during the filming of content delivery.

The Emotional Challenges:  I am a shy person by nature.  I don't like to be "out there" and I don't like feeling vulnerable (great TedTalk on vulnerability by Brene Brown) and exposed.  Yes, I'm a professor and I make myself vulnerable for a living, but it's still scary and uncomfortable.  Over the years, I've learned to tolerate and even feed off of the challenges of teaching a 200+ class of students.  I've learned to deal with the inevitable judgments and criticisms that are part of publishing one's research.  I tolerate the discomforts because I truly believe that my teaching and research benefit others--at least, I hear this often enough to keep me going.  Still, like many others who spend a lot of time in vulnerable positions, I don't always find it easy to put myself out there time and time again.  For someone who is naturally shy and reserved (yes, colleagues, I really am reserved!), the prospect of standing in front of a camera is utterly terrifying.  I managed to not really think about it until the weekend before we started to film.  I spent most of that weekend working on PPTs, watching the Women's College Softball World Series, and burning off my panic on my elliptical.  Seriously.  I was really scared.  I couldn't believe that I had agreed to let myself be filmed while lecturing and then let students watch me talking to them.  I would have no control over how and where students watched me.  I imagined them playing drinking games ("every time she says 'um', take a shot"); mocking me; and worse.

By the time I showed up for the first session of filming, I was terrified.  I am pretty skilled at hiding my panic and I don't know how apparent it was to Mike Heidenreich.  Fortunately, Mike has the most soothing and calm voice and manner of anyone I've met.  He immediately put me at ease and made me feel comfortable in the confines of the audio studio.  Pretty quickly, I realized that I needed to force myself to be completely present in the moment (my athletic background suddenly became very useful).  No thinking about anything except whatever I was speaking about at that very moment.  In fact, I soon came to look forward to my days in the studio.  Before we started and between takes, Mike did a great job of keeping me loose and laughing.  I haven't laughed so much, ever, as I did during the 4 weeks we worked together.  I am pretty sure that, with a less skilled "handler", I'd have done a much worse job.

I still can't watch myself on film for very long.  I watch for about 5 minutes, press pause, do something else, watch for another five minutes.  I still feel vulnerable and exposed.  Now that the class is underway, though, I also get to see all the ways that these pre-recorded lectures have enhanced student learning and made it possible for me to create a classroom that promotes active learning.  The payoff is completely worth the discomfort.

Teaching injury!

The Physical Challenges:  In part because of the intense filming schedule that I chose (because I knew I needed most of July to focus on redesigning the in-class side of things), the process of filming was hard on my body.  Most of us are used to walking around when we are on our feet for long periods.  But filming required standing completely still.  My feet and legs ached tremendously by the end of the day.  I slept with an ice pack on my lower back and took anti-inflammatories like they were Skittles.  I got a massage every week, something I strongly recommend if you are doing a lot of filming.  For the final two weeks, Mike got an anti-fatigue mat for the audio studio--this made a huge difference to my legs.  Within a few days of finishing, most of my aches and pains went away.  My right foot, however, was very sore and a bit swollen.  It turned out that I had fractured a small bone on the bottom of my foot (sesamoid).  It hurt like crazy and took about 6 weeks in a walking boot and a cortisone shot in the bottom of my foot to finally calm down (the bone won't actually heal; the aim is just to reduce pain and swelling).  Lesson I learned: barefoot is a bad idea.  Always wear supportive shoes when standing still!

No comments:

Post a Comment