Campus Connection Interviews Kent Banner
We recently asked Kent Banner, a faculty member in the Business Department, about his sabbatical experience in Hawaii during the 2019-2020 school year. Below is his interview:
Campus Connection: How long have you worked at TVCC?
Banner: It's hard to believe, but this September I will complete my 20th year of employment at TVCC.
Campus Connection: How long was your sabbatical?
Banner: About 10 months--it covered the Fall, Winter, & Spring terms of the 2019-2020 school year. It was a long time to be away, but it kept me busy and actually went by quickly. Of course, the pandemic began to really set in, in mid-March, near the end of the Winter term, and really changed the way I did the work I was doing, as it did for all of you here at TVCC and elsewhere.
Campus Connection: Where was it and why did you choose that particular place?
Banner: I taught a full-time teaching load for three semesters at BYU-Hawaii, located in Laie, Hawaii (on the northern shore of the island of Oahu). I taught Introduction to Business, and Business Communication, as well as a Political Science class one semester. Ironically, my daughter was attending that university, and we just happened to see a one-year teaching opportunity listed on their website. I chose to apply because I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to benchmark and learn from how things are done at the university level--especially one with such a diverse student body, comprised of students from 70 countries. Their students come primarily from countries in Asia, the Pacific Rim, and the South Pacific, but also from all over the world. Only about half of their students come from the United States, and it just looked like a fantastic way to step out of the usual way of working and seeing things and really get a different perspective; and it ended up being exactly that.
Campus Connection: What was your best experience during your sabbatical?
Banner: It's hard to narrow it down to one, but probably just working with such wonderful students, many of whom came from really underserved locations, educationally and otherwise. They were, almost without exception, very dedicated, very engaged in the learning process, and spoke English as a second or third language. Many international students, because of the cost of travel, remained in Hawaii for the entirety of their college experience and worked or performed at the Polynesian Cultural Center on a work scholarship to fund their education. I learned so much from them. It was humbling yet exciting to teach in such an international and culturally diverse environment. It was both challenging and very rewarding.
The most unusual experience, I might add, was being under a pandemic "stay-at-home" order while simultaneously receiving a tsunami warning to potentially evacuate to higher ground. Life operates a little differently in Hawaii, sometimes placing us in situations that were well out of our usual comfort zones!
Campus Connection: What was your most challenging experience?
Banner: Probably just adapting to teaching in a classroom with so many different cultural backgrounds, languages, and learning styles. I learned I needed to slow down, avoid idioms (they would not understand them and there are so many idioms woven into our American culture), and to have almost everything written in Canvas so they could review lecture summaries and assignments more carefully to better understand them. That was a big adjustment, even though I thought I was doing a lot of that previously at TVCC.
Campus Connection: What did you learn that you were able to bring back to the TVCC classroom?
Banner: I definitely gained a greater awareness of the challenges ESL students face. I also found many, many ideas for engaging students more fully, both online and in the classroom; it really increased my mental picture of what was possible in a number of ways in these areas. I also learned a lot from their business department's strong focus on job-readiness for their students; impressively, it was prevalent throughout the business curriculum, and in the many campus events and job-placement initiatives.
My sabbatical was incredibly enriching professionally, and I think did exactly what I hoped it would do. It was an amazing experience in an amazing place. I will always be grateful to TVCC for the opportunity, especially to the Board and Administration for their support, and to colleagues and faculty who covered my classes while I was gone - Mahalo!
Special thanks to Kent Banner for his willingness to share his experience!
TVCC is grateful for the work and professional development by our faculty who are vital in our mission to promote student success!
(Pictured Above L to R: Kent Banner, wife Marshiela Banner, & daughter Krishelle Banner at BYU-Hawaii's December 2019 Graduation Ceremony)