I taught my first summer class today.
It’s a fun class, one that I’ve taught many times. There’s three of us who teach the course – an interdisciplinary class on the atomic bomb – and the first day of class starts out with the usual rules and introductions before moving on to one of us introducing our subject. This year it’s the physicist. Some years I get to go first. The philosopher usually has to wait.
Last year we taught the class on Zoom, which was a feat of social engineering in many ways.
This year? We went live.
Today was the first time I set foot in an actual classroom with actual students since March 11, 2020. I had a class on March 13 that year but those students were hundreds of miles away. I’ve taught that class remotely since 2012 so by the time the pandemic hit I was well versed in that particular pedagogy. It’s not a bad way to teach – it has its drawbacks and its advantages – but there’s nothing like being in the room with your students.
My alarm went off at pre-pandemic time, another first. I put on my Teacher Uniform – khakis, button-down shirt, dark socks, black sneakers that look like actual shoes from a distance – which is a far cry from the Zoom Formal that I’ve been wearing for the last fifteen months. And I drove down to Home Campus.
It wasn’t all happy reunions and roses – back when we submitted this class in February we weren’t sure how the world would look so we agreed to teach it as a hybrid course – part in person, part remote – which as the most tech-savvy instructor in this bunch (and, for the record, I realize just how absurd that statement is but here we are anyway) I can tell you that hybrid is much harder than just doing it remotely. I spent an hour with the IT guy last week and then went in yesterday to make sure I could get it to work on my own, and then this morning nothing I’d done worked at all so I spent a frantic 45 minutes getting the tech to do what I wanted.
But class time rolled around and we were off.
I’ve missed being in a classroom with students. Remote teaching doesn’t have the same energy, and you miss a lot of the things that the students give you when you’re staring at them on a screen.
In accordance with Home Campus policy, vaccinated students don’t have to wear masks on campus while unvaccinated students do – and no, asking for their vaccination status does not violate HIPPA so don’t even start with that. Most of our students are in fact vaccinated, which speaks highly of their intelligence, though even some of those were more comfortable wearing their masks.
A good percentage of the students were my advisees and an equal percentage were the philosopher’s advisees, so we knew many of these students coming in – though some of them I’d never seen in person after a year of remote advising. They’re the ones who didn’t know I wear glasses, since I don’t do that when I’m reading or looking at a computer screen.
The class went well. They asked questions and seemed to enjoy the material. We got through everything we’d planned to get through. The hybrid part actually worked, much to my astonishment, as did the video that the physicist showed. And we get to do it again on Thursday.
It’s been a long time coming, and it’s good to be back.