In 2020, life as we knew it changed. As a Board, our focus turned inward to improve our newly designed website. As instructors, we all got creative in connecting with class participants and neighbors to help them cope with quarantine mandates. Isolated from our tai chi community, we all struggled as we learned new technology and how to communicate virtually. Kate McKee and Terry Crews, USTCC Board Members, early on saw that USTCC Members needed a safe place to ask the questions they were unsure of how to ask, and to learn in a non-judgmental space from people they trusted.
Thanks to mask-wearing and the vaccine our country began opening this year. More within the USTC Community began teaching and attending tai chi classes virtually. In many cases still working in isolation, we found ourselves challenged daily by software updates and decisions on expensive new technology while hoping to recover our cost. Facing the same challenges, Sheila Bassopo-Moyo and I took the USTCC Professional Development initiative in a new direction.
Our first USTCC Professional Development event, How to Engage Participants Virtually, was a webinar panel discussion. Three Virtual TCH USTCC Instructor Members shared their real-life experiences teaching virtually. There were so many questions by attendees the event lasted 30 minutes longer than scheduled. Here is what one of our Members, Alexandra P said about the event:
“Again many thanks for the wonderful and informative presentation. The experience of the presenters and honest shares were most helpful in tackling classes on zoom. I so appreciated the time and effort that made this presentation possible by the presenters and IT 🙂 skills?”
In our second event, How to Get Comfortable Teaching Virtually, Andrea Lepcio offered to be our first solo Professional Development presenter. She shared her professional theater experience to help us deal with virtual stage fright. Andrea reminded us to be kind to ourselves. She admitted that she was nervous with uncertainty prior to the event but became more comfortable as the meeting continued. We were all able to relate to how she felt and were comforted knowing we are not alone. Members were appreciative of the information she shared, and we left with tools in our toolbox to calm nerves.
It is only fitting for the final presentation of our inaugural Professional Development Spring Series to be given by the person whose vision brought us together and taught us tai chi, Dr. Paul Lam. His presentation on The Ripple Effect of Teaching Tai Chi In-person and Virtually was well received.
Moving forward, we still have questions that need answers. Future presentations we are working on include Grant Writing, Teaching with Music Virtually, and Product reviews of webcams, speakers, and more. Sheila and I can not do this alone. We need our community to help us. Share your questions, share your expertise and experience, and if possible give of your time. You may be a participant in or moderate a future USTCC Professional Development Event and learn along the way.