Teaching Online

I've been teaching online since last spring now, and much of it has gone surprisingly well. (I still love this photo of one of my students playing a joke on the class.) I have learned a few things though...

1) Zoom fatigue is real. As teachers, we often project our voices in a classroom. It's hard to stop doing that when teaching online, and I often lose my voice after a day of lecturing. Also, staring at a donut light the entire time adds to the fatigue (which is even worse when it's dark outside).

2) I use Sidecar (Mac software) to use an iPad as a second monitor. That way, I can still see my students even when sharing a slide-show or online materials. It helps to have that visual connection to my students, even if it's just through a box.

3) While one student said he actually preferred learning online, because "all my classmates are just a square away," I have had to ask the men to give room to the females and not dive in and start answering questions without seeing if someone else is starting to speak. It seems that ease of communication also opened up the old ideas of who has the right to speak. Interesting.

4) "The Wiggles" are absolutely necessary. Dubbed by one of my students who taught pre-school, getting up to stretch is a must. (My classes are usually 3-hour long "studios.") Otherwise, you positively calcify.

5) Mixing up content delivery seems to help. I use slideshows, videos, handouts, readings, writing assignments, creative assignments, critiques, etc. Students today were brought up in the digital age and lose attention quickly if we don't keep it interesting for them!

6) Most importantly, be easy on everyone. I have slacked off of attendance, tardies, deadlines (now called "best-by" dates), and hard-and-fast rules. The key phrase these days is "remain flexible" and perhaps also, "deal with each individual individually." I have had students with Covid, whose parents lost jobs, ceilings caving in, exterminators (for roaches) showing up during class, family members interrupting, babies crying, dogs barking, you name it. This is NOT teaching like normal! BUT, it can be done, and it does work.

Ask me about it again next semester, when I have to teach topics that would normally never be considered doable in an online environment. We'll see how it goes!

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