Covid-19 has ravaged the country, and unsurprisingly, it has had the greatest economical and health impact on the socio-economically disadvantaged sector of our country. I have witnessed a country torn by revolution followed by a war. I have seen and experienced human resilience and adaptation first hand, and I know our students are going to fight through these tough times. As an educator, it is my duty to help our students adapt and thrive in these times of uncertainty and anxiety.
In March, we had to teach all of our classes remotely. Initially, I was overwhelmed in the transition of going 100% online, despite the fact that I have taught online classes in the past and currently teach a few online classes. Students from my face-to-face classes had different expectations from the course than my student who were already enrolled online. The primary obstacle my students, transitioning from face-to-face lectures into the online realm, faced was the time management aspect of online course work. In a traditional classroom environment, lectures are given in a structured setting, homework is given and taken up in a structured setting, and students are used to studying in a structured environment such as a library or a tutoring lab. Online classes are free flowing, and it is incumbent upon the students to manage their time to watch lectures, do homework, and study for exams. As an educator, I kept changing my teaching strategies used to engage and reach out to students because I constantly came up with better ideas. However, by the time I had figured out a system to reach out to the students who were lost or had limited access to computers the semester was over.
At the end of the semester I asked some of my students which modules they liked. The responses I received included the following: short lectures prepared in advance on a new topic, a second lecture reviewing the first one in zoom perhaps a mini quiz to confirm students had watched the video in advance, a third lecture going over some of the assignments and quizzes over the lesson, Zoom office hours, and emailing the students that are struggling or unmotivated and asking them to join the zoom office hours. I am also planning to have a volunteer gathering with my students at a park near San Antonio College at the beginning of the fall semester. Since I have been teaching on-line, I more or less have set up my courses like Allegra’s, but I am going to extend the zoom sessions to online classes.
I really am thankful that we had the Spring Seminar despite the current challenges we are facing as a society. The articles and the abc video confirmed that all of us are experiencing the same challenges together and sharing what we have done and we are facing can only improve our approach and improve our teaching and reaching out to the students. I hope that we as a team of faculty at San Antonio College will find the time to setup SLAK the way Allegra has done it for our students. I think Allegra is super organized and decisive, and computer savvy. The seminar was well organized, short, and concise. It covered all the aspects of the program during Covid-19, and I am going to try to follow Norman Eng’s advice on how to prepare my classes and start with WHY. I cannot stop thinking about the WHY for range of math topics at night. I know how adaptable and resilient humans can be, and I am confident we will be on track again and be able to deliver our classes for our students in the fall.