It has been two months since the new remote school year began, and both students and teachers are gradually adapting to the remote learning period divided into six STACs. In this article, teachers share their experience during the time of COVID and provide their unique insights into this process of adapting to new teaching styles.
Over the past two months, teachers have been adapting, and the process seems to be going smoothly. They are trying to figure out how to make zoom classes as effective as in-person ones. Monica Ripley of the Visual Arts Department noted: “I think [my teaching experience] has been good. I like the way I moved the curriculum of the ceramics from an in-person only scenario to a very versatile situation where it could be remote very easily and it could be in-person very easily. I’m really proud of that.” Monica uses Miro in her ceramics class to teach the principles of art and design: “I discovered Miro can really aid in classroom discussion. I’ve been very proud about using that as a way to get my students to think about art in a different way. They were sharing their thoughts, writing them down, everybody was interacting on Miro. I never would have done that in the classroom.”
Kiley Remiszewski of the Science Department is also excited about how the welcoming and active atmosphere of CA has been maintained. She shared, “I’m so happy that I’ve been able to get to know students even though we are on screens much of the time now. It’s exceeded my expectations and much of that is due to you all, the students, being so willing to engage in your classes, with your teachers, and with your work.”
Ben Stumpf of the Computer Science Department commends the schools’ effort to ensure “equity and good citizenship,” saying, “[CA welcomed] to campus many of our students who most needed reliable technology, community, and safety, while putting protocols in place to avoid becoming a nexus of transmission here and in our families and towns.”
Teachers of CA are also being very inclusive about new technologies. They look forward to using them to improve students’ experiences in their curriculum. Nancy Boutilier of the English Department looks into this change with a very optimistic perspective. She said: “Fundamentally, I’m still teaching people, you know, though I have to adjust, I have found advantages to each mode.” She pointed out how breakout rooms are used in her class: “I could put people in their own breakout rooms and I could go in and out and talk to them about their papers and have a good conversation that way.”
Despite numerous successes, technological problems occasionally frustrate the faculty. Kiley mentioned: “I am not the most tech-savvy person so I am definitely still hitting bumps when it comes to incorporating all the pieces of technology smoothly (as students in my classes can attest) but each day I practice it gets better!” Boutilier also noticed some difficulties when receiving private messages from students. “The first day I switched over to hybrid, there was a chat. I wanted to see what it was, and then I thought, oh boy, if I open that and it’s a private chat, it’s gonna go up on the big screen and everyone’s gonna see it.” However, she has already solved this problem by “[changing her] video from the one that’s on the big screen to [her] laptop. So for a minute, [she] could look at the chat.”
Aside from the technical aspects, the atmosphere of the classroom is something that the faculty members really care about. Nick Hiebert of the English department notes: “I’m thinking constantly about building community in the classroom, and a lot of my worry over lesson-planning has to do with the myriad ways I feel like I’m falling short in making that happen in class. This largely remote work has made me realize how variously we communicate with one another when we’re in class together physically — and how helpful those various languages we use (little affects in expression or body language, say) help in the learning process. It’s been challenging to think about how to help us show up and be present to and for one another.”
Laurence Vanleynseele, another English teacher, commented: “I find time management to be different because the hyflex classroom has a different rhythm. Things do not flow as smoothly as they do in a regular classroom, or even in an entirely remote classroom. I am aware of having to speak louder at all times and know that my remote students may hear an echo or receive their peers’ voices in the classroom in a muffled way. Having one-on-one or small group conversations is just more complicated and that is a definite loss. Some things require a more elastic time, a sort of joyful messiness that is at odds with the rigidity that the hyflex system entails regarding what we call ‘content delivery.’”
Although teaching under a pandemic is quite difficult to think about, it seems that our teachers are adapting well to this situation. Despite difficulties, it is without doubt teachers at CA are trying their best to provide the school with high-quality classes, and we should always be aware and grateful for all that.