Quietly Doing the Chicken Dance
Air Date: August 17, 2020
#1 Quietly Doing the Chicken Dance
August 17, 2020
0:00 Interview with Richelle Monaghan, Associate Professor, Department of Health Studies (Chair) and Biology
13:14 Interview with Jamie Poole, Transition and Retention Coordinator, Transition and Learning Services
25:53 Interview with Tyler Van Herzele, Coordinator, Community and Workplace Partnerships
38:25 Pop Culture Campus: Bruce and Tarah discuss TV’s Community.
Thank you to Melissa Weaver for One Market graphics and Nicole Morgan for campus promotion. Music by Scott Holmes.
Bruce Gillespie 0:00
Welcome to One Market, keeping the Laurier Brantford community connected. I’m Bruce Gillespie. This is Season Two. Thank you to everyone that made our first season such a success, all of you who listened or appeared on the show, or sent us a note to recommend a future guest. We couldn’t have done this without you. And we’re really looking forward to a new season. Things will be a little bit different this time because of our teaching schedules. But we’ll be releasing a new episode every two weeks. They’ll be slightly longer, we’ll feature some new segments, some new voices and some surprises, so stay tuned.
This week, we hear from a professor who won a teaching award for using Snapchat filters to help her students memorize human anatomy. Then, we get an update about all of the transition activities that incoming students are being offered this summer. And finally, we learn how the Workplace and Community Partnerships Office has been supporting students to take advantage of experiential learning opportunities in their remote environment. Plus, we talked about the chicken dance, becoming your own barista and wedding planning during a pandemic. All that and more coming up on this episode of One Market.
Our first guest is Richelle Monaghan, a professor and chair of the Department of Community Health. She was recently recognized with the Sam Drogo Technology in the Classroom award by the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society. She received the award for using Snapchat to help students learn and memorize anatomy, which, as she explains, students often find daunting.
Richelle Monaghan 0:00
One of the challenges with human anatomy is, basically, people come off the summer, this first course is in the fall, they come off the summer, and we’ve managed to get through the skin pretty, pretty well. But then we enter into this section of the musculoskeletal system, which just has a massive volume for students to manage. And they really do equate it to trying to sip from a firehose, like, it is a lot of information to manage. And this is typical in North America for human anatomy and physiology, there are kind of standards that we need to get through, because students that then have this on their transcript, have access to get into healthcare. And so, other universities consider this course a prerequisite into their medical programs and, and their nursing programs. So, that volume is necessary and at the same time, it really can be a challenge. So, I try to come up with ways to use technology to help students manage that volume. And at least have some fun in the process.
So, I use Snapchat, and not everybody wants to have Snapchat on their phone. So, there’s other options as well, but use Snapchat to take, use filters and take images of themselves with certain expressions, highlighted or kind of amplified using these filters, and then discussing the muscles that would make these extreme expressions. So, that was one of the ways that I use Snapchat to do that. But, if students didn’t want to, you know, have Snapchat on their phone, they could search for emojis that might, that might, you know, they could associate with these muscles of the face, facial expression and things like that. Or, they could also draw their own, so there could be an artistic component as well, if they were interested.
Bruce Gillespie 3:34
That’s great. And I love this idea that because, you know, there’s so much memorizing involved to learn all these different systems and muscles that you’re trying to think of ways to help that make that easier and even fun for students.
Richelle Monaghan 3:34
Bruce Gillespie 3:34
I know one of the other things you’ve done the past is a dance to help students to memorize some of these things as well. Can you tell us about that?
Richelle Monaghan 3:34
Sure. So, that’s another area of human anatomy, which is the cranial nerves so there’s, there’s 12 cranial nerves, and so these 12 cranial nerves you think, well, there’s 12 nerves, nerves, how hard can it be or 12 pairs of nerves. How hard can it be to learn those 12 nerves? But, they are quite challenging. The cranial nerves are responsible for basically, your facial expression, lots of senses. So, your eye movement, your taste, your hearing your sense of balance, and there’s a lot involved in those special senses as well. So, to create some, a mnemonic for the cranial nerves, I created a dance that actually goes to the Oktoberfest kind of polka music of the chicken dance because that’s generally when we cover it in the term is around Oktoberfest time, around Thanksgiving time.
So, I have the chicken dance going, and there are 12 steps to our chicken dance, our cranial nerve dance that we use that polka music to. And so, each step of the dance is associated with a nerve. And it is a way to help students kind of understand either one of the actions or help them remember the name and just kind of create a scaffold that they can begin to play some information in their, in their minds about these nerves to navigate, kind of the complexity of it, of them. And then they learn the nerves, we associate it back to the dance, and then I get them to critique the dance. So, let’s look at cranial nerve one, and the first step of the dance. Does that step, that dance step makes sense to you? Or, is there a better one? So, I get them to reflect on the dance that I gave them, to see if they can come up with a better one. And often they’ll keep what I have. But, there’s a few, there’s been improvements to the dance over the years because of student contributions.
And, and so that’s been really interesting as well. And so, I give them kind of the different steps that other students have come up with as examples as well. And they’ll go, “Oh, yeah, that’s, that’s really helpful for me as well.” So, I’ve used that, and it’s a lot of fun. And people, it’s a dance that you can do sitting in your chair. But, it also, if somebody feels gregarious or kind of open to sort of dancing and like physically dancing, there’s space for that as well. And that’s one of the things I try to do is create an atmosphere where students feel really safe to just do what they want to do in class. And so, if that means kind of do the dance in their seat quietly to themselves, that’s fine. If they want to get up and dance with me, we’re gonna be doing the polka cranial nerve dancing class too, so it really allows for students to use it how it best suits them.
Bruce Gillespie 6:56
I love that, I just love how it engages students, I love the thoughtfulness on your part to think about how to make this material easier to digest and make sense of and remember. I’m getting this mental image of students in an exam room sort of quietly doing chicken dance motions to themselves as they tried to figure out something.
Richelle Monaghan 7:05
That is exactly what happens, and it’s funny because the very first time I tried this, this was years ago when I was a contract teaching faculty at the Waterloo campus before I started working at the Brantford campus as a professor and there were, all of the classes that, there’s several classes with different instructors for anatomy. But, all the students share the same laboratory. And the laboratory instructors were asking me, “What’s this dance that all of your students are doing in lab?” They weren’t familiar with this technique that I had just introduced at the time.
Bruce Gillespie 7:26
So, it strikes me that, I mean, you’re really interesting person to talk to at the best of times, but especially now as we head into a remote fall term where I think a lot of instructors are taking on learning types of technology they’re not familiar with, that you’re someone who’s done a lot of experimenting with different teaching techniques, but also lots of technology. What kinds of advice do you have for people, for instructors doing this for the first time?
Richelle Monaghan 7:37
Wow, that’s a, that’s a great question. I think one of the most important things is to recognize that, that we’re learning and this learning, our own learning as instructors is a process. And often we can have this ideal of perfectionism that can be paralyzing, to get started or to try something new. And I think sometimes for me, at least just recognizing that this is the first, this is version, you know, 1.0, and there’s going to be lots of opportunity to get feedback and understand how to make 2.0 way better, and how to make 3.0 way better. So, not to have the pressure to kind of launch the, I mean, we always want to do the best that we can. But, at the same time, sometimes the pressure to launch a production that’s at the equivalent of 6.0 without that learning curve can be there. And just, just to be fair to yourself, just to be fair to myself when I use the technology. Let’s do the best I can on the first version, and then we’ll see what the next version looks like.
Bruce Gillespie 8:17
I think it makes sense. Anything I try like this, although I am absolutely not dancing in my classes, I always try to remember that it’s iterative, that this is just, like, exactly like you said, this is version one, there’ll be subsequent versions. And I try to be honest with my students about that, too, that I’m trying something new because I think it’ll work based on what I’ve read and what I’ve tried. So, we’re gonna try this together. It may work and may not. I love feedback, but I will also expect your feedback and we’ll go with it. I’m not, I never tried to introduce it as this is perfect. You will never see it as perfect. There will be nothing wrong with it, because I know that’s, it’s not honest and it’s just not true.
Richelle Monaghan 9:56
Exactly, exactly. And I think that honesty is that authenticity and transparency that students need to feel safe in a classroom in the first place, to recognize I’m not coming in here with something perfect. We’re not, we’re all learning together. And that’s a big part of creating that learning environment that’s safe, psychologically safe, so that people can can have a messy learning process. And hopefully just get to, the point is, where do we get to by the end? That’s, that’s kind of what I’m aiming for.
Bruce Gillespie 10:29
So, as we head into this, this, this very different new kind of fall teaching semester, how are you? How are you feeling?
Richelle Monaghan 10:35
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous. Um, I am trying to channel that that nervous energy and perceive this nervous energy as excited as well. And I think there really is a combination of the two. I have a new course that I’m teaching this fall, an introduction to forensic science. And it is, actually I’m teaching it both in the fall and winter, and it was waitlisted for the fall, I opened up, I opened up space for those on the waitlist, because there was about 10 people and I thought, okay, I can manage 10 more students. So, I’m really excited. At the same time, I have to try and remember my own advice, that because this is the first time I’m teaching the course, that to, you know, do the best that I can, I think the kind of nervous/excitement is really about, you know, wanting students to learn, but really wanting to have students see how that learning is relevant to their future goals. And that they really can see value from the course and that those are kind of, so I feel like I have a strong responsibility to kind of do a great job. And I want to, I want to make it a really exciting fun course for the students. So, I have a little bit of extra pressure that I’m putting on myself, but I think that might just fuel me too a little bit as well.
Bruce Gillespie 12:05
I think that’s good advice, again, too that sort of, and I, again, I tell myself, my students this all the time, especially when they’re going in to do interviews for the first time, which they find nerve wracking, it’s that, sure, you may feel nervous. But, you know, some of that is also excitement and try to focus on on that part, that this is exciting and new, as opposed to just 100% terrifying. Because you will probably have fun doing this too like maybe not as much as you think, maybe more than you think. But, there’s an element of, of that excitement there too, that we have to recognize.
Richelle Monaghan 12:33
Exactly, exactly. And, and I think the closer I get to it, to the term, the more excited I am getting. And that’s how I was able to kind of feel comfortable opening up the waitlist so that any student that was wanting to get in at that point in time was able to still get in. Because I, because I am starting to feel a little bit more excited. And part of that is that, you know, I’ve been able to produce some of the course already, so that I’m feeling a little bit more prepared.
Bruce Gillespie 13:05
This has been great, Richelle, good luck with your semester. And hopefully we’ll check in with you later to see how the first iteration of your course goes.
Richelle Monaghan 13:11
Okay, well, thank you so much.
Bruce Gillespie 13:13
Our next guest is Jamie Poole, who coordinates Laurier Brantford’s transition programs to help new students acclimate to university life. Normally, they do most of this in person, on campus. This year, they’ve moved it online with great success.
Jamie Poole 13:28
We always have offered Laurier 101 in different types of programming for students to help them transition, but this year has been especially unique in that we had to make our own transition and change a lot of our programming to virtual and online options for our students. So, it was a large undertaking, but honestly, we’re so excited and happy with what we were able to create afterwards. So first off, we as always, have offered our course registration webinars. And luckily, those have always been online, so we didn’t need to change anything there. So, that tends to be one of our largest attended programs, and something that students are really happy to receive support with. But after that, headstart is is normally our next largest program, and that has always happened on campus. And if you’re not familiar with headstart, it’s a full day orientation type program that we provide for students that literally, you know, gets them ready for everything before September.
So, with that what we tried to do is really think about what our main goals were, and then try to create some online programs that could help support that. So, myself and my team in Waterloo, we we came up with three goals that we try to replicate in an online environment. So, the first is academic preparation. And again, typically we would do presentations at headstart. What we did instead for online is we broke it up in A few different programs. So, we have actually offered four series of mock lectures for students. So, we had faculty from all different departments do a 30-minute lecture through Zoom, so that students could see what that would look like and what they might be able to expect. And then we did a 30-minute debrief where we actually interviewed the faculty and students could type in questions and just chat a bit more about what university learning would look like and maybe some tips on things like note taking and preparing for lectures, that kind of stuff.
Bruce Gillespie 15:31
That’s so useful, because especially coming from from high school, students are often surprised, sometimes pleasantly, sometimes not about what the university classroom and expectations are academically. But I think, especially with the grade 12 experience that incoming students from Ontario will have had with all the, you know, the COVID stuff, and you know, work stoppages, that it was such a bumpy year that I think doing that academic sort of grounding is really important.
Jamie Poole 15:56
Mm hmm. And I think a lot of the students, it’s surprised them, but also is making them feel a lot more comfortable. Just seeing, our faculty did such a great job, and really just was able to show them that Zoom lectures can still be interactive. And so, we’ve been hearing from students afterwards that they’re like, “Oh, you know, what, I feel a lot better now about September,” like, I think they were thinking it was just going to be, you know, watching someone talk for three hours. And I think they’re seeing that there’s a lot more interactive components. So yeah, so it’s been really great and really fun for us to do as well.
Bruce Gillespie 16:28
Jamie Poole 16:29
Yeah, so we have that. And then, we’re also running an academic preparation certificate right now with some modules that students can do through our Laurier Life or MyLearningSpace course. So again, just getting them to think of some very basic ideas of things like time management, or university writing and different services they can utilize before they come here in September, and how to virtually access them too right? The next sort of big area was building community. And to me, this was probably one of the most important things again, especially in a virtual environment, we heard a lot of students being nervous about meeting other students in their program. were feeling like they belong to Laurier and that community,
Bruce Gillespie 17:12
And again, that makes sense. I was thinking that makes sense to me. Because again, I think that building community part is so important for first-year especially. And I think a lot of that happens when you’re on campus running into people, right? I remember.
Jamie Poole 17:23
Bruce Gillespie 17:24
And I’d forgotten until just now, but one of the, one of my longest best friends from university is someone I met while we were lined up for the mandatory French test before first year. I mean, had we not stressed in line together I’m not sure we would have met, we probably would have at some point. But, we still had that connection, so to kind of create those kinds of connections online seems really important.
Jamie Poole 17:45
Absolutely. And you’re so right, I remember the person I sat beside during course selection in my orientation in the summer as well. So, yeah, we really wanted to try to replicate that and getting students feeling like they’ve met people in their program and faculty as well, right? So, we sort of kicked off all of our Laurier 101 programming with a virtual welcome party. So, we had fun with it, we had Mitch Higgins from LOCUS be a co-host with us. And we did some fun Laurier trivia with prizes and played music, we had different welcomes from other areas, and then provided a space for students to you know, chat with each other and meet other students in their program. So, that was a lot of fun. And then, as you know, we’ve also hosted some program chats for different programs across Brantford, or we’ve had faculty and senior students come and have a Zoom chat.
So, talking about what to expect in first year, what the virtual learning will look like, students provided their own insights into how to get involved on campus or the student associations they’re a part of, and then we always ended those program chats with an opportunity for incoming students to actually turn their cameras on, meet each other, introduce themselves and hopefully make those connections. So, that was a completely new program for us this year and something that I think went really well and was a really good opportunity for students, not only to meet each other, but I think realize that faculty are so welcoming here and Brantford, and, you know, making that connection before class and realizing that they can go to their faculty for support and questions if they have them.
Bruce Gillespie 19:21
Our program chat, as I’ve told you before was fantastic, was really lots of fun. It was really well done. I think it’s a great opportunity too for incoming students to meet a senior level student who can answer their questions like what’s the workload like? How did you get involved? How hard, how hard are the classes? I mean, they can ask the faculty members the same questions, we might have different answers or we might have the same answer, but I think, in many cases it’s more believable to incoming students to hear from another student. So, it was really important, I think,.
Jamie Poole 19:47
Absolutely. And same goes for me, like, it makes me feel old sometimes because I can say the same messaging and students are, like, “Yeah, okay.” But then, you know, if a senior student also mentions it, they’re, like, “Oh, great idea. Like, I’m definitely going to get a planner.” So, we’re so happy to have the senior students involved and we even offered a student panel that we had, a senior student panel. So, students got to type in questions and hear right from the experts. And those students shared their experiences of, you know, balancing work, and school and life and all of that stuff. So, that was an excellent way for students to hear some of the messaging that we want to get out there, but from a more reliable source, I guess, according to students, so yeah, so that’s great. And then, and the last sort of pillar was just that Laurier knowledge. So again, getting students familiar with different acronyms or things they’re going to need to know, as well as the different supports that we have on campus. So, we have an upcoming get connected fair, where we have over different 20 different departments, you know, kind of like a fair that you would have on campus. So, letting students know what is available, how to connect with them. We’ve had a professor panel as well, for those sorts of things, we’re sending a biweekly newsletter. So, again, just making sure students aren’t missing deadlines, and again, feeling comfortable with what to expect in September.
Bruce Gillespie 21:10
It’s amazing. And it’s even more so to think that you’ve produced most of stuff from scratch in just a couple months, realizing that all this in person programming you would normally have done wouldn’t be possible. That’s, that’s great. What’s the response from students been like?
Jamie Poole 21:23
It’s actually been great. And we were so nervous about that at the beginning as well, because we just, again, first time doing anything like this, and we were, we were so unsure. But we found that, I think, because less students have visited campus because they weren’t able to come to March Open House, and they and they do have a bit more maybe uncertainty than they would in a regular year, we are finding that we have an increased number of students interacting with our programming. And I’ve actually gotten to know a few students who have come out to most of our programming, so we’re seeing familiar names, which is amazing. And they’re getting more comfortable with us as well, right? And so, that’s been really nice. And I think students are feeling a bit more comfortable to reach out and ask questions. And, and maybe that’s because they’re behind a screen, and they feel more comfortable to type them in. But again, we’ve had an increase in interaction and an increase in interaction with international students, right? Because like, again, if we had these things on, on campus, they may not have been able to come to all of these events. So, it’s been great to be able to connect with them a bit more and provide them more support too.
Bruce Gillespie 22:32
I think it’s been really eye opening for so many of us to see how things or approaches we’ve always taken the past are actually relatively inaccessible to lots of people, like your example for international students. Why I’m, I keep being reminded of all these things that will probably continue to do in the future, because I realized, oh, this is actually relatively easy to do. It’s really smart in terms of folks who couldn’t get on campus, get to an on campus event. I think there’s probably so many good takeaways we will take from this otherwise, you know, awful experience.
Jamie Poole 23:02
Yes, no. 100%, like after we’ve done all this, obviously, my team and I will debrief. But, I definitely want to include some of the online programming that we created this year, as well as on campus opportunities in the future, because you’re right, I think we’ve extended our reach. Even for students living in northern Ontario or out of province, right, we were just providing more access for students and, and even those that are able to come to campus in the future, they might still want to do this and just you know, better connect with students and get more information. So, I think we’ll do a hybrid model of this going forward. And you’re right, it’s a silver lining, right? It got us out of our our comfort zone and trying new things. And, and I think there’s definitely gonna be some takeaways we move forward into future years for sure.
Bruce Gillespie 23:47
What’s it been like for you to try to organize and run all this work from your home, as opposed to your office?
Jamie Poole 23:55
Definitely at the beginning, it was a large undertaking, just because, again, we had a lot more programming going on in different formats and different people involved. But again, perhaps because most people are at home and we’re doing this online, we’ve been able to incorporate so many more people in our Laurier 101 programming this year, whether that be faculty or staff. And I think that that enriched our programming even more, right? So, we were able to incorporate so many more people and hear so many different voices. And as time went on, I think it’s become easier and people are getting more used to Zoom and Teams and, and doing things virtually. So, we’re so thankful for all of the support we have had across the campus. Because like I said it, it definitely has made our programming much better. I think on a personal note for me, it’s almost you know, even though it’s been so busy, and we’re doing so many things to be able to wear pajama shorts while you’re doing this, and like a worktop on top. I don’t know it’s just like more relaxing. So, It’s been nice doing it from home, you know, to be able to have a relaxing atmosphere, I guess and working with campus partners online.
Bruce Gillespie 25:09
That’s great. It’s um, again another silver lining, I don’t miss my commute, I sort of like being able to turn on my computer and just start as opposed to,
Jamie Poole 25:16
Bruce Gillespie 25:17
Getting up super early. “I wonder what the weather’s like?” It’s, it’s kind of nice for change.
Jamie Poole 25:20
It, no, it really is, I’ve been saving so much money on the commute. And even just simple things like I bought a milk frother and I’m making tea lattes a lot of the time. So, I don’t know, just just simple little pleasures, I guess that you wouldn’t have time for to do it in the office.
Bruce Gillespie 25:39
That’s great. Jamie, thank you and your team for all the work you’re doing in the stream on these transition projects. Because I know from the faculty side, they’ve been really, really useful. So, we really appreciate you doing them. And we appreciate you taking the time to tell us about them today.
Jamie Poole 25:51
Awesome. Thank you so much.
Bruce Gillespie 25:53
Our final guest is Tyler Van Herzele, who coordinates workplace partnerships, a whole range of opportunities for students to get some workplace experience in or outside of the classroom. Here’s our conversation.
If I sort of cast my mind back to March, which seems like a long time ago, but also just last week somehow, I think a lot of us were concerned about what might happen with our community and workplace partnerships, where we send students out into the community to see workplaces and community organizations in action. And we had concerns about how this would even be possible during a pandemic. And I think many of us probably thought it wasn’t gonna be possible. Of course, we’ve seen now that that actually wasn’t the case. So, can you bring us up to speed on what sort of changed on your side of things and what you’ve seen in terms of community and workplace partnerships?
Tyler Van Herzele 26:41
Absolutely. To say it was an abnormal time, would be an understatement. It was, those are some questions that our unit was talking about, as well, I know, how are we going to be able to continue to operate in the ways that we had before in offering these experiences for our students? But also, to create those meaningful connections with our community partners? And as it turns out, we couldn’t do what we had done before we had to adapt. And that actually came a little bit easier than we thought it might. So, when the unit was created, we at the forefront of everything we did we talked about flexibility. How can we make sure that we are reaching the goals of our faculty partners, while making these connections with our community and providing a well-rounded student experience?
So, we created all these different models. And when everything changed in March, we had to change what type of model were applying to the situation at hand. So, in places where we had in person placements, maybe it meant looking at more of a case study model, or bringing in a project to the classroom as opposed to sending students out. So, for the winter semester, which was still very much underway, I had to, we had to, we had to take a moment and look at who’s still out there? How are our community partners reacting to the news just like us? and how can we finish off these types of commitments that we had? Because that’s what they are, when the student goes out into our community partners it’s a commitment. And I have to say, we’re all in our in our department, we’re very proud of the fact that our students were the first to say, “Well, we have to, we have to fulfill our commitments.” So, they were very much on board with their lives changing at the exact same pace all of ours were, they want to make sure they weren’t stepping out of an experience too early or stepping away from something that could have been really meaningful for the partner.
So, through the collaboration, constant communication, we’re able to put the pieces back together, make some of those placements that we had in person remote, so they could still be doing things for our community partners. But, most importantly, making sure all of those relationships maintained, they endured through that difficult time, and we had partners who had to step away, and we fully understand that. And we had students whose lives completely changed, some had to actually leave the country in the middle of something like this as well. So, there was a lot of moving parts. And I’m very, very inspired by the amount of effort that everyone put into wrap up that winter term.
Bruce Gillespie 29:08
I think for anyone on the faculty side, and probably student side as well, who’s been involved in community or workplace partnerships with your office knows just how much work goes into relationship building and finding partners and finding good fits for students and putting all this stuff together. It’s a, it’s a really long term process for all the right reasons. So, I can imagine how scary it must have seemed in March when all this stuff might have taken a different turn. So, it’s really encouraging to hear that they’re still going on and that you found different ways to, to keep these projects going, which is really great.
Tyler Van Herzele 29:43
Yeah, it was, it was amazing to hear from students and faculty members. Of course, those are the first folks we’re speaking to is our faculty partners, as it’s their course. So, our office works with faculty within a course, so it’s not like Co-Op where we have our own designation, and it’s not attached to a course, it’s a credit option. It’s all very intertwined. So, we wanted to make sure that the support was there across all of the units. But, at the end of the day, as you mentioned, it is about relationships. It’s not just about relationships with community partners, it’s about relationships with the student body, it’s about relationships with our faculty partners. So, there was a lot of emails being sent at the end of, the end of March, that’s for sure.
Bruce Gillespie 30:21
One thing that surprised me, because of course, I work with you on a regular basis, you and the folks in your office helped to coordinate the practicums that our DMJ students do. And one thing that surprised me was the amount of student interest in actually trying to do remote placements because this is not something we typically offer. We’d rather students have direct supervision in a workplace in a community setting, as opposed to working from home. So I, I wasn’t sure what to expect, I don’t think I thought that they’d be very many students want to do this. But in fact, at least in our program, we saw lots of students wanting to take on these remote placements, which I thought was really encouraging, but also really exciting.
Tyler Van Herzele 30:59
Yeah, it was, I’m not gonna say I was expecting it. But, what we realized pretty quickly is when you remove the in-person, the realm of possibility changes a little bit. So, things like distance, things like having to travel or commute to a location becomes less of a concern, obviously in this in this circumstance, but the the drive and the willingness to participate in something this robust, especially with the DMJN practicum, like, that’s a, that’s a large scale commitment. It was amazing to see those students come out and say, “Hey, I don’t know what’s possible. But if anything’s possible, I want to, I want to see where we can go with it.” And so, that just sort of turned the gears as to well, where can we go with this? How do we accomplish this?
Bruce Gillespie 31:42
Tyler Van Herzele 31:42
And it’s amazing to see our partners come back and say, “Oh, we have a lot that could be done right now.” And that’s one common thread we’ve seen throughout all of this is, just because there are so many changes going on, a lot of partners are still looking for support to help them get through it.
Bruce Gillespie 31:57
Sure. And I’m really grateful of those partners who are, in many ways, probably providing more supervision than they might necessarily have to. If you’re all sharing the same space, you’d look over and see that someone’s still working, right, they really stepped up to say, you know, we value these commitments and are willing to put in the extra time required to make them work, which is, I mean, fantastic for students who are in these placements. So, just switch gears for a moment. The other thing we want to talk to you about was your personal life, because and you’ve you gladly agreed to talk about this, I’m not springing this on you for those who are listening. But, I know from from working with you so much, that you were going to get married this summer.
Tyler Van Herzele 32:34
Bruce Gillespie 32:34
And I know, I know from lots of stories I’ve read that most people have had to adapt or change their wedding plans somehow. So what happened with you?
Tyler Van Herzele 32:43
Yeah, so my wedding date was originally planned to be July 25th. And I can say right now I’m not married. So, obviously, some things have had to change. We quickly realized in March that a lot of things were going to change, and recalling back to March and being able to reflect back on this, sort of goes for work and personal life, it was amazing how little we knew. So, we were worried about our stag and doe being canceled at the beginning of May. We had, that was our initial worry, so then May showed up, and the new semester showed up, and everything was still kicking off. It was still, we weren’t level yet, we were still moving around, and we looked at each other and said, “Well, I don’t know. Like we need to we need to start talking about what’s possible.” For my personal situation, that date meant a lot to us. So, it’s always been the date that we’ve celebrated throughout all these years. I proposed on that date as well last year. So, we really, really wanted to keep it. So, we waited. And we, I have never watched more news television in my life trying to stay on top of, well, what’s the trend today? Where are we going? Anything about weddings? Of course not, why are we talking about weddings, there’s a global pandemic going on. There’s a lot to think about beyond the scope of can we have a gathering. So, as things went on, it started to dawn on us that well, we might need to postpone and ultimately that’s what we had to do.
Bruce Gillespie 34:13
And so when did you decide to postpone officially?
Tyler Van Herzele 34:16
Yes, we postponed for a year, so we weren’t able to get the 25th next year. But, we were able to get the weekend prior and we are extremely fortunate to keep all the vendors we have secured prior to March including our photo videographers which we were worried about because those folks book up years in advance sometimes. And so, we’re very happy to keep them as well as our venue. They’re able to offer us another Saturday in the summer in July. Which by the time we had postponed we were the last of our entire friend group to do so. There were four weddings supposed to be this summer, all of us have had the postpone, and they all did it a month or earlier before we did. So, we were really holding out trying to see how it goes. So, luckily, it all worked out for us. And I know a lot of folks, it hasn’t worked out that well. And I know that stress. So, once we made that choice, that stress disappeared, we can start focusing on the real, what can we do? What’s an option for us now?
Bruce Gillespie 35:16
I mean, that probably makes sense, right? I mean, as heartbreaking as it must be to, sort of, lose the date that’s special to you. And presumably all the planning you’ve put into it for years already, to not have to, sort of, worry on a daily basis to look up and read the news and think, can we gather people? Can we do this, can we not? Every day must be a relief?
Tyler Van Herzele 35:32
Yes, it was. Absolutely. And really, when it came down to it, although July 25th, was a hard date this year, just to, just to be, you know, thinking about what could have been, we were able to have our families around us at Ally’s family cottage, so we were able to just be together and have a nice vacation away. I already had the days booked off, if you could imagine, that was that was a bit easier. But, when the decision had to be made, it was really quite an easy one to make, you look at the situation that we’re all facing globally. But, even more locally to us what Ontario is facing, being one of the hardest hit in the country at this point. And you think Well, what do I want? Do I want a date on a piece of paper that we can celebrate? Or do I want everyone I’ve invited, everyone I love to come to the wedding, not be full of worry, and just enjoy themselves. And that just wasn’t the possibility this year. And we’re not saying it’s going to be a full possibility next year either. But, we are more optimistic that with the restrictions and how they’re changing. We can have something more resembling our original plan in a year’s time.
Bruce Gillespie 36:40
And I mean upside, you still got a year to do this. So, you can like you could start like hand calligraphy, you know, all your invitations. Or, you know, you could start baking your wedding cake or something. Like, you’ve got a year to sort of put into this, put all this work into it.
Tyler Van Herzele 36:54
Yes. I know. Ally reminds me on a daily basis, “Oh, we have another year. So, like, we could do so much more than we were already doing let’s prepare decorations. And let’s get prepared.” I’m, like, “Yeah, absolutely. But, remember, we have a year.” So, today’s actually a special day, Ally gets to go get her wedding dress today. It’s been held off. So, she’s excited to go and see it now. And obviously I won’t see it for a long time to come. But yeah, great day for her and her mom to go do that. So, there’s lots of things to look forward to, the canceled events, the stag and doe, the bachelor, bachelorette weekends, the bridal shower, all those things, that can happen now. And we had to cancel them before. So, all things considered, we’re really optimistic and excited about the next year.
Bruce Gillespie 37:39
And like you say, those things can be able to happen, hopefully at a time when people won’t be consumed with worry and actually enjoy the moment. I think that’s important.
Tyler Van Herzele 37:47
Absolutely. You know, everyone thinks a wedding. Well, I mean, unless you’ve already had one. Everyone in my life thinks a wedding is the wedding day. But, there’s so much more about that. And for Allie and I, are very social people, um, this time has been difficult for different reasons other than that, but you know, it’s going to be nice to get that energy back in the room when we can actually have that time again. So, I’m looking forward to that.
Bruce Gillespie 38:11
Well we will keep our fingers crossed for you, Tyler, thank you so much for telling us all about it.
Tyler Van Herzele 38:15
Yes, no, thank you for having me on. And anyone else who’s had to face this challenge, I know what you’re going through, and I wish you all the best with that as well.
Bruce Gillespie 38:25
Up next we have a new segment that we’re calling Pop Culture Campus and to tell you more about it, here’s my co-podcaster Tarah Brookfield.
Tarah Brookfield 38:34
Thanks, Bruce. So, each month Bruce and I are going to compare a fictional campus Laurier Brantford, sometimes with a special guest who has an expertise. Now, these won’t be in depth analyses of the TV, movies, or books that feature campuses, but what we’re going to do is address aspects that we found realistic to higher ed, something that we may be probably found wildly unrealistic, and then note if we found anything familiar to our own experiences at Laurier Brantford.
So, today we’re going to discuss the pilot for the sitcom, Community, which ran for six seasons on NBC, and is now streaming on Netflix and Amazon. Created by Dan Harmon, the show features seven quirky student characters who find it easier to navigate college life once they come together as a study group. The series also features recurring faculty members and one very highly involved Dean. The series was known for launching the career of Donald Glover and its use of pop culture parody and experimental comedy. I suggested Community for our very first Pop Culture Campus because it aired in 2009, the year I started teaching at Laurier, and I remember having an affection for Greendale, the fictional campus on the show, because I think the characters’ misadventures felt relatable as I fumbled through my own first year. And also, while Laurier Brantford is not a community college, there is something relatable about an underdog status, at least compared to the more established Laurier Waterloo campus. Bruce, were you familiar with community before I roped you into watching it?
Bruce Gillespie 40:02
I have seen a handful of episodes over the years, I didn’t ever sit down and sort of watch on a regular kind of basis. But, I’ve popped in and out enough to know the basics of the characters and the plot lines. But, it was interesting to watch both the pilot and the first episode to see the beginning because I’m sure I’ve never actually seen that before. So, it was it was interesting context.
Tarah Brookfield 40:23
So, did you find anything, I mean, someone who was both, who’s now a professor and has attended multiple universities yourself, did you find anything realistic about its portrayal of university life?
Bruce Gillespie 40:35
I think to some extent, yes, I was, the thing that struck me most realistic was the fact that, you know, right on what seems like day one or day two, the students they are having to do group work and nobody seems terribly excited about it. To me, that felt very realistic, because I think that’s something that happens in in sort of our classrooms all the time. And many students often complain about having to do group work, and it’s just a part of academic life unfortunately.
Tarah Brookfield 41:01
Yes, and I wish sometimes our group work had as much comic hijinx potentials as opposed to angsty brama. And, um, for me, I thought it was something I don’t often see portrayed on traditional college campuses that there was a lot of mature or non traditional students featured amongst the main characters. And that’s something quite similar to Laurier Brantford. The idea that well, we have many students coming from direct from high school, the main cast on the show had, you know, people who are who had never gone to university or returning back at different points in their life. And whether they were brand new to university or coming from a different path, they both were, they were all experiencing sort of the stress of academia, and as well trying to figure out their identity in this new space.
Bruce Gillespie 41:49
That felt really familiar to me, this idea that people are trying to get an education for a variety of reasons and for a variety of different points of their lives, which felt very recognizable, I think, to the Laurier Brantford experience as well. Lots of our classes have a really diverse makeup of people in terms of their ages and backgrounds and reasons for being here, which I’ve always felt makes a much more interesting classroom.
Tarah Brookfield 42:12
Now, what about the unrealistic side of things? Was there anything that jumped out to you? Or, is this a where do I start moment?
I think more of a where do I start moment. I think the clear one for me, obviously, was the, you know, Jeff, when you’re trying to buy a semesters worth of test answers from one of the professors, who appears to go along with it, and then just swap some cars instead, and never actually gives them the answers. But, I think obviously, in real life, that would a) never happen and b) if it happens, you would obviously, as a student, be reported for serious academic misconduct and your your time at university would probably be very short lived.
Bruce Gillespie 42:51
It did make me think if I wanted to, how would I even go about finding the answers to like my colleagues tests, let alone figure out like my own in advance for the whole year? And I thought, like, how could I do that? Because it’s not like we have test banks necessarily, or that I would have keys to your office, or was I bribing my colleagues? So yeah, I like trying to work out, could I even do that if I was going to go down that route?
I just had the same experience. It sort of took me out of the story for a moment as I was trying to figure out, how would this happen? Like, no, I don’t, like you said, I don’t even have my own files half the time right on hand, and let alone trying to get them from my colleagues, especially if they’re taking, now the ones I watched, they’re only taking Spanish classes, presumably they take other courses, but certainly anyone outside my department, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to get any third materials, let alone their test answers.
Tarah Brookfield 43:41
But, you could see it being a dream of a student to suddenly start the semester with all the answers. I think the thing that I found unrealistic, and it comes back to your point about the group work, so the students, they formed their own voluntary study group. And they sort of come together as so many movies and TV shows do, like, they’re all very different and diverse. And they don’t necessarily all click, but they decide to work together over the over the course of the series. But, in the very first episode, Jeff Winger, the character you mentioned, he’s a real jerk to them. And he lies multiple times to them. He’s using the study group, basically, to try and hook up with one of the girls. And I just thought, since this is a voluntary study group, would they have let him back in? Would they have given him a second chance? Or would you just be like, “No, you’re out.”
Bruce Gillespie 44:25
I thought the same thing. My experience with and understanding of students study groups today is that that kind of chemistry would not work, I mean, someone would sort of not do the work or, you know, cause such drama that they would immediately be expelled and you simply wouldn’t invite them back the next time.
Tarah Brookfield 44:44
You know what, the other thing is a lot of our students are incredibly kind, and they give people multiple chances. So, maybe I was being too ruthless by assuming that they wouldn’t give him a second chance.
Bruce Gillespie 44:54
I mean if this was a first-year study group where people are still finding their way, figuring out the university in terms of what’s expected and getting through it, they might be more sort of forgiving than a study group and third and fourth-year when you know each other better, and you know what the expectations are, and you have a much clearer sense of the kind and quality of work you want to do. So, you’re right, maybe first-years would be kinder and more forgiving, more willing to give second chances than those people in the upper years who know better by that point,
Tarah Brookfield 45:24
Right? The other thing I thought is a little inside joke with me as well. They have a library on their campus, the giant big study rooms,
Bruce Gillespie 45:31
Tarah Brookfield 45:33
We do have a library that we share, and we don’t have study rooms like that. But, that’s a bit of a low blow for Laurier Brantford.
Bruce Gillespie 45:42
But, that being said, in One Market, the new building after which our podcast is named are some beautiful new study spaces. And I kind of think there are bookable spaces that are either in there now, or will be there soon. So, I did have, my first reaction was, oh, wouldn’t it be nice to have this kind of library? But, my second reaction was, Oh, wait, I think we do have this now. We’re just not actually on campus to enjoy it.
Tarah Brookfield 46:02
That’s very true. You’re right, that big space at the back of One Market. I do remember there are little offices at the back. Yes, you’re right. Now is there anything you thought particularly familiar to your experience at Laurier Brantford that jumped out to you?
Bruce Gillespie 46:16
The thing that jumped out to me was that again, and only having watched the first couple episodes recently, and then a smattering of the ones, was that even on a smallish kind of campus, people recognize each other. So, the guy with the star shaped sideburns. For example, everyone seemed to know who these folks were and they recognized each other, it wasn’t one of those places where you’re a number and you didn’t ever see anyone you knew, this seemed like a really small, close knit kind of community of teachers and learners, which I really like and which reminds me a lot about our Brantford campus.
Tarah Brookfield 46:52
That was exactly what I was going to say as well. It sounds cheesy, but I think the community aspects seem familiar. Even if it’s sometimes done in like in a teasing way, or a mocking way, you saw genuine affection, recognition, like amongst the main characters and the supporting characters, and you could sense that the size of the school had a lot to do with it. Anything, other final thoughts on Community?
Bruce Gillespie 47:15
No, I enjoyed it. Um, I’m not sure it’s enough to make you sort of want to dive into the rest of the series right away necessarily. But, I did enjoy again, like I said before, it was good context for a show, I’d only seen bits and pieces of completely out of order before. So, I thought that was interesting. Fun too to see some of these actors at the beginnings of their career, compared to the work they’ve obviously gone on to do, that’s always fun.
Mm hmm. If you do continue, I recommend the paintball episode in which to get priority registration they have a campus wide competition that gets pretty crazy. And another one with a giant blanket fort through the residences.
I think the blanket fort was one I’ve actually seen, and I don’t know if I’d read about it, or somebody told me about it. But, as folks who listen to the podcast know, I am charmed by blanket forts because they work as lovely recording studios. So, I actually did, I’ve seen that one. But, I have not seen the paintball registration one, that one, that sounds like a very fun idea. And very timely at a time of year when students are trying to get overrides into courses and whatnot.
Tarah Brookfield 48:15
Exactly. So, next month, we’re going to watch The Social Network. So, this will hopefully be on episode three. And we’ll enjoy trying to figure out sort of the dorm culture life, what’s it like to create something sort of with technology and using students genius, sort of, behind the scenes as well as I Imagine, if I remember correctly a lot of gender dynamics with that movie.
Bruce Gillespie 48:39
Yes, I think you do remember correctly.
Tarah Brookfield 48:42
Right. So, we invite you to watch along with us. And if you have any other recommendations on books, movies, TV shows that you think would be applicable to our Pop Culture Campus comparisons, just let us know.
Bruce Gillespie 48:55
That’s right. Stay tuned.
And that’s a wrap. Thanks for joining us. We hope it’s helped you feel a little more connected to the Laurier Brantford community. If you liked what you heard, tell your friends and colleagues, you can subscribe on Apple, Google, Stitcher or wherever you find your podcasts. Worried about missing an episode, sign up for our newsletter. You can find the link on Twitter and Facebook @onemartketlb. We’ll be back with a new episode in about two weeks. One Market was created and produced by Bruce Gillespie and Tarah Brookfield, music by Scott Holmes, graphics by Melissa Weaver. Thanks for listening. Keep in touch!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai