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The best thing I did was tell students from day 1 that I understood some of the stresses they were under, that there were probably others I didn't even know about, and my only promise was that I wouldn't be the person who made it worse. Teaching Rule #1: Meet students where they are -- don't make the learning experience difficult for the sake of difficulty under the pretense of "having high standards." This holds true regardless of the teaching platform.
Communication with the students via email, text and weekly videos for inspiration and information (not educational contact). Opening up the virtual classroom early because the students often want to talk with people they aren't living with. I record every session and post on Blackboard. For each class, I create an agenda and post in case student gets bumped off the internet. I also create time periodically during class when I would ask the students to turn on their cameras and mics so we can check in and make sure they are following the information. Ultimately, walking the walk of putting students first -- before moving to remote learning, I sent a survey about what they barriers they have. Listening harder to what the students are truly saying if they are having a problem. It became incredibly apparent to me that the classroom/studio space is quite the sacred space and creates a level playing ground for all students. It should not be taken for granted. Having this window into their personal lives is incredibly enlightening and shines a light on the numerous barriers they have. Creating a sense of normalcy for the students seemed to work well. The virtual backgrounds have been a huge success. Students past and present as well as colleagues are sending me suggestions on a daily basis! I even had two students (who had already had the class) ask to join class AND they joined class, were engaged, and participated for the entire class!
Converting our class field trip to an online event has gone very well. Rather than camping in southern Ohio, we decided to go to the Grand Canyon for a virtual visit. I provided online resources that let the students see high resolution images with embedded learning videos and teaching exercises that were made by ASU. I invited some colleagues, who are world experts on the Grand Canyon to participate as virtual "guides." Two days before our field trip, they published two new papers in the journal Geology about the Grand Canyon. I developed a presentation to discuss that new work, which is significant, revising the stratigraphy of part of the Cambrian age geology of the Grand Canyon for the first time in 70 years. Their second paper revises the age constraints for the timing of the middle to late Cambrian and has implications for the diversity of life during that time. These are exciting new results that my students will be able to discuss and explore just two days after publication!
There are many challenges when teaching an online dance class. While some teachers chose to have students learn the mental aspects of dance, I preferred to have the students keep moving. My first experience with zoom was not great. I found it very difficult to see the students and physically teach them combinations at the same time. Students had trouble with the connection. Many of them would hear the music later than I did, or their computer would just freeze. I found that the best way to deal with these unforeseen challenges was to give the students options. I posted the weekly assignments late on Sunday night and took them down late on Friday night. This would allow them the opportunity to dance when they had the time and space to do it the best they can. found many videos on YouTube that were helpful. It took hours of research, but there were several that gave good content, advice, or class that was perfect to do at home. I would even create videos in my basement and put them on YouTube myself. Some of the students had difficulty “mirroring” the images and found it challenging to learn combinations that way, however, I also think that learning from a video is a useful skill to have for any students that find themselves in a dance company or show that is recreating their pieces by learning it through video. I also used a site called DancePlug that had a few tap combinations or warm ups that I thought the students can learn. What I liked about DancePlug is the different ways the combinations were taught. After researching several virtual platforms, I chose to pay for zoom pro. It allowed me to see all the students at the same time. After several tries, I found that changing my mind set on how and what the students were learning was helpful. First of all, I simplified all the combinations. I would teach it so it was easy to remember, then I was able to watch them while saying the combination through my computer screen. Obviously, it was going to be difficult for students to turn in the floors they were forced to use. Therefore, I focused on balances and the proper preparation instead. I was also able to focus on ballet barre, technique, small jumps, strengthening and stretching.While I think that this is obviously not the best way to hold a dance class, I truly feel that the students that chose to do the work still learned something from it. Students and teachers were forced to think outside of the box in their teaching, choreography and projects. While many students may have had difficulty with the situation as well as staying motivated and consistent, I believe that those that have managed to rise to the occasion will find themselves successful with other challenges in future careers.
Jakyung C. Seo
Theatre | Lighting Design
On March 10th of Tuesday, I was driving from Cleveland Playhouse to Kent State to attend the 2nd technical rehearsal of SDF/BFA concerts at Kent State University. I, as a lighting designer was working on “Middletown” that the production was produced by Cleveland Playhouse. One of my MFA students called me and said that the school was closing now due to pandemic. It was heart breaking that the students couldn’t have the real experience of the productions. While preparing all of my classes, I was trying to focus on the practical side of the experience into remote classes. I used real example of lighting paper works from Broadway to my professional works to share with the students. And then I encouraged them to review the details of the lighting paper works from Broadway and then cooperated to their paperwork. When we have the production works before pandemic, students often missed the details in their paperwork due to limited time opening the productions. In addition, I reinforced to the students the positive side of being remote classes. I created the sign up schedule at google drive schedule. While I met them outside of class time, I gave them the individual attention. It seems students liked the time that we could meet regularly outside of class time. It was tough time but, I was proud of our students works. They focused and kept their momentums to learn about lighting design.