BUA Classics Instructor Dr. Kristin Jewell reflection on her transition to remote teaching:
Like a lot of teachers, I went home for spring break with a big pile of books, a bag full of papers, and all sorts of plans for what we would read and discuss when we came back. I had mailed the National Latin and Greek Exams, and we had a plan for finishing the yearbook in a few days. I grabbed some extra books just in case, and cleaned my room extra carefully. . . and then the landscape changed, and the learning curve shot straight up. I participated (remotely) in training, sucked down every teaching idea I could find – and eventually had to stop, triage it all, and figure out what to do for the next 2 days, and the 2 days after that.
I was daunted!
But I had the best help from everyone at BUA – from university training, to fellow teachers who took the time to walk us through different online tools, to pop-up Zoom sessions with friends who helped talk me down to earth. I’m inspired every day by the way students and faculty have pulled together. I’ve also been picking the brains of teachers in online communities, and been amazed at their generosity.
And my students! Every day, I wave at them, and they wave back, and we do our best to keep learning. We’ve figured out how to use shared Google docs as our white board; how to wrangle new material in Greek (not so easy, when typing one letter can require 4 keystrokes – and the kids had never typed Greek before); how to give feedback (not easy, when I usually write notes on their physical homework); how to practice Latin poetry online (not easy, when it requires a way to mark lines all over a text…with a mouse/trackpad); and how to play Kahoot together in our separate homes (surprisingly easy, and a lot of fun). In the first week, they taught me all the tricks they’d observed in other classes, and helped me get better.
Granted, I’d much prefer to be with our kids in the classroom. I wish I could do more content and do it better. I wish I could see them in the hall, and listen to them talk and laugh like regular kids. They have such good Zoom etiquette that it’s almost TOO quiet when we meet! I worry about missing their little Zoom hands when they try to volunteer. Eyestrain nearly sidelined me for two days in our first week, and I had to (begin to) learn to pace myself; Zoom fatigue is very real. Online preparation makes me feel like a new teacher again. But I’m also very fortunate: I have a structure and a purpose every day, and great kids to work with. I’m more than a little proud of what we’ve managed to do together.