Thursday, May 7, 2020

Masked Education

Yesterday my school had our first onground teaching experience in our new pandemic reality.  We didn't have students--we're still doing our classes remotely.

We had a potential faculty member come in to do a teaching demonstration.  Since we still can't have students back on campus, we had the few faculty members who were on campus come to watch the teaching demonstration.  As I think back to past teaching demonstrations, the fact that faculty members did the evaluating is not the strange part; that's how we've usually done it.

No, what was strange was the masks.  The job candidate wore a mask as did the evaluators.  I've worn a mask briefly here and there to make some purchases, but yesterday was the first time I sat with a mask on my face and tried to concentrate on something other than the mask on my face.

The job candidate did an admirable job; I can only imagine how strange it must have been.  Her voice was muffled here and there, but overall, I could hear her.

As we've all gone about our business in masks, I've been realizing how much of our facial expressions emerge from the lower part of the face.  I tried to smile at the candidate to give encouragement, but I don't know if she could see me.  If I exhibited boredom while masked, would she have perceived the difference?

I don't know if these are questions I'll return to at a later date.  We're still under shelter in place orders that ban groups of more than 10 gathering, so right now, we don't have to think about how to conduct classes while masked.

I realize that we might have to consider this.  It may be that students eventually choose online classes so that they don't have to deal with a mask.  I would.

But of course, I've got the background and the resources to be comfortable with online classes.  I'm not like our average students.

Maybe my brain is racing ahead of me.  Maybe we won't have to teach while masked.  But the coming months and years will bring us a very different approach to education, of that I am sure.

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