September 25, 2020

I hope this newsletter finds you hitting some kind of stride into week 5. It has been great to see so many faculty who have participated in some of the recent technology trainings including Knowmia, Zoom, and Google.  It is my goal to get CTE sessions recorded so that all resources are accessible to everyone. 

I have also begun work on a new and updated webpage, which will hopefully be ready in December.  Dillon has been busy orienting our new faculty to GRCC.  Deb is currently working on developing a Sustainable Teaching series in an effort  to support faculty during these incredibly stressful and trying times.   Keep checking back to the CTE registration page as we continue to add things weekly, including sessions on student engagement strategies.

Drop me a note and tell me how you are doing. I would love to hear from you!

Ideas for Assessing Online Learning 
(pre-recorded workshop)

Whether you’ve been teaching online or suddenly find yourself new to a virtual teaching environment, this Zoom session is for you! Hear from experienced faculty who teach and assess learning online.


  • Proctoring options
  • Refining existing assessments to reduce cheating
  • Tools (e.g. Bb discussions, Relay video quizzing, Zoom)
  • Innovative assessment (beyond a tool approach)

Are you are looking for a way to get students engaged in your recorded lectures? Would you like to track who is viewing them and how much of it they are watching? 
CLICK HERE for a quick 3 minute totorial video. 

Using OER as an Equity-mindedness Approach to Teaching


In response to two surveys, nearly 5,000 GRCC students reported on the negative impact of the pandemic. A reduction or loss of income and the ability to afford course materials were listed among the top challenges. It is more important than ever to recognize the positive impact we can have by choosing free and low-cost textbooks and supplementary material for our courses.

The OER mini-workshop series is designed to be relevant to the economic realities of our students and responsive to establishing practices that enhance equitable learning outcomes.

Academic Freedom at its Finest: Finding the Right OER for You
Thursday, October 15, 1:00 PM to 1:30 PM
Facilitators: Sophia Brewer and Lauren Woolsey

The Student Perspective: Real OER Stories from the Classroom
Wednesday, November 4, 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Facilitators: Lauren Woolsey with former and current students


Click Here For A Full List of Upcoming CTE Opportunities

Faculty Feature - Sarah Krajeski, Biological Sciences

Sarah Krajewski has been teaching for twenty-five years, joining the full-time faculty at GRCC in 2008.  Even though Dr. Krajewski has been in the game for a long time, in some ways she is feeling like it’s her first year teaching again.  


“You know, they say in teaching that the first three years are the hardest.  In this case, I feel like it’s the first three semesters. After this fall I hope to have a general template for most of what I am doing.”  


Like everyone else, she is working overtime trying to master all of the tools necessary to deliver her Biology courses.  She’s teaching multiple formats including online, hybrid, and virtual; some on campus and some for Middle College students.

Sarah has worked to take advantage of many tools like Swivl through Media Technologies. She has used it to record her lectures while she is on campus.  She has also spent her fair share of time with the pitfalls of learning new technology. “You upload it, and then - where does it go?” she says, laughing.  Recording herself and working in front of a camera was something new for her.  “I realized that I had to get over my own imperfections.”

She credits many people around the College with helping her juggle new learning tools and platforms.  “I have gotten some great ideas from colleagues, talking and texting with Lauren Elliott, Tim Periard, Tim Hoving, and Jan Colvin. We have all shared tricks and tips.  Klaas Kwant has helped so much with videos, going the extra mile- even adding funny music that students have commented on.  The help desk and IT have helped me out so much.” She encourages other faculty to reach out and use these resources that are available to them.

Teaching hands-on classes can present a real challenge. “I just added a new activity involving the use of an egg and vinegar to discuss the cell membrane. Students have to take pictures and send their work. You have to think about what they have available at home,” she said.

One of Sarah’s biggest efforts this fall is around building a sense of community for students. Given the circumstances, she has really been trying to take extra steps whether in person or online. She recognizes that there are a lot of students who are experiencing stressful circumstances or have had to change plans about moving away to a four year school and she wants them to feel that they are welcome at GRCC. 

“We’re all spaced out in this huge auditorium but I still encourage everyone to introduce themselves. We use little white boards to communicate with each other so students can still work together to some extent. Online, community building is especially important so students feel like they are in the class with someone else - so they can feel like they belong.”

Sarah has taught online classes for the Middle College for a few years now. She has tried to go out and introduce herself in-person to connect with students face to face or more recently, used Zoom to do so. 

 “One of the benefits to teaching in the Middle College is that the students know each other. They can work on homework together, but that can present challenges too. I usually use Respondus Lockdown monitor as an online tool for proctoring, but the high school students are issued chromebooks so it wouldn’t work. We identified a person at the high school to proctor and the students take their tests at the school computer lab now.  Success rates are just as good as the general population of GRCC students.”

Dr. Krajewski has learned to handle the stressors of the COVID era by structuring her time.  “At first I was just working all the time. I worked all summer and all hours of the night. More recently, I have tried to build a schedule and structure to work on certain things at designated times. I arranged set office hours on Google Meet that students could drop-in instead of setting up a bunch of individual meetings.  I added a reminder on all of my emails and students started using them.”

Outside of teaching, Sarah recently started attending FitBody Bootcamp sessions which give her a set time for herself and allows her to manage some stress and work on her well-being. She also has three children who she enjoys spending time with. They attend Catholic Central High School and Sarah said she is thrilled they are able to return to sports.  Her husband is a principal of an elementary that is operating in a hybrid model right now. They are all very happy to return to school in its various forms. 

The current circumstances have presented faculty members with challenges like we've never seen, yet Sarah seems to take it all in stride. She credits the students for their patience with all of these changes, "Students understand the challenges teachers are going through, they are very forgiving- and seem to appreciate all the effort their teachers are  putting in. We are all in this together. I know when this is finally over - I will have more tools in my toolbelt for teaching! But, I can’t help but miss teaching in my classroom the way it used to be!” 

Drop Sarah a Message Here - We Need to Stay Connected!


A great way to make your online office hours accessible to students (and save yourself emails back and forth) is to set up appointments that students can sign up for.  You create the block of times, and they can sign up for them on their own.  Follow these quick and simple instructions:

Send Us Your Quick "Tech Tip" To Share With Faculty
Implementing a Student Success Management System

Through the recent Title III award, GRCC is in the process of implementing EAB - a student success management system that will be launched in early 2021. The EAB system aims to promote student outcomes through early alert/intervention, shared case management between service departments and faculty, and a feedback loop for all parties involved. The system will also manage course registration, appointment scheduling across campus, academic progress reports, and much more. We invite faculty to learn more about this important system, explore how it can be used to boost student success, and discuss opportunities to get involved.

Facilitator: Eric Mullen
Date: Thursday, October 15, 1:30-2:30pm
Visit the CTE page to register for this session.
The fall Online Hybrid Certification Course is scheduled to begin
Monday October, 5th through Sunday, November 15th.
The workshop series will be offered online with scheduled weekly virtual sessions.


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Center for Teaching Excellence · 143 Bostwick Ave NE · Grand Rapids, MI 49503-3201 · USA