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Educational Inequities and the Pandemic

The 2021 Learning Institute on June 3-4 will focus on educational inequities and the pandemic. The featured speaker will be Susan Blum from Notre Dame with the keynote—Ungrading and Related Practices for Equity in and Beyond a Pandemic. go.middlebury.edu/learninginstitute

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Featured Campus Presentations

Faculty Panel

Four Middlebury faculty members share how they have adapted their teaching to respond to the challenges presented by the pandemic.

- So hello, everyone. Good afternoon. My name is Amy Collier. I’m the associate provost for digital learning at Middlebury. And part of my work involves leading a group known as DLINQ, which stands for digital learning and inquiry, dealing partners with faculty and students on various forms of digital learning. And this summer, we worked with faculty across Middlebury’s programs to prepare for what we knew would be a unique fall. And this included more than 60 workshops on technology and pedagogy, five two-week sessions of camp design online and hundreds of one-on-one consultations with faculty. And I’m so excited today to be hosting this session featuring the innovative and expressly Middlebury approaches that faculty have taken to their fall courses. So here’s how today’s session will go. We will hear from the four panelists, who I will introduce in a moment. They’ll each speak for approximately eight minutes, and then we’ll have lots of time for Q and A afterwards. During their presentations and afterwards, during the Q and A section, you can add questions for these folks to address using the Q and A function that’s below the screen there. So there’s a little Q and A button. You can click that and go ahead and start submitting questions whenever you’d like. I’ll keep an eye on that Q and A and collect your questions and then post them to the panel when it’s time. So let’s go ahead and get started. Today our panelists are Professor Jeff Bittner, Christian A. Johnson, professor of music and director of choral activities; Professor Louisa Burnham, professor of history; Professor Michael Sheridan, who’s a professor of anthropology; and Professor David Allen, who’s assistant professor of biology. You will hear each of them describe some of what they’ve been doing this fall. You’re gonna hear diverse perspectives and approaches, maybe even some lessons learned, but more importantly, it’ll be clear from their experiences, how much our faculty care about their students, how much they care about their learning and their experiences at Middlebury. And it will be clear how hard faculty have worked this summer to prepare for the fall. And it will be clear how creative and diverse and talented our faculty are. And with that, I will turn things over to Professor Bittner.

- Thanks so much. Well, welcome everyone. I am thrilled to be able to talk to you today about changes in teaching in our new environment. As Amy said, I’m the director of choral activities and I teach music courses in the Music Department. So my main thing is singing and that means getting a lot of people together in a room, pretty much close together to sing. And a couple of important things to remember are that singing produces more aerosols than speaking and they go farther. So I think it’s fairly common perception now that choirs can be problematic when it comes to all things COVID and not to dwell on that too much, I thought I would dwell of course on my solutions because here we are singing and in a lot of places, we are singing safely. And of course the main goal has been to figure out, how can we sing safely? How can we sing such that if we thought someone in the room had contracted the virus, the rest of the people in the room could actually emerge safely. Now the answer is yes, but not for long. So I’m gonna talk a little bit about what I’ve done. What I typically do, of course, is bring a bunch of people into the room and we begin interacting in an immediate space, much like a discussion section might be, but with the element of singing, there is something of a social element that’s always happening. People are always making sound, they’re always interacting. And so preserving that side of things has been as critically important as perhaps what you’d call the quality of the product, how well we are singing, how great our music might sound and so forth. It’s what it means to us and what it means to us to be together. So early on when we left campus and we went remote that was the thing we were able to hold onto and Zoom kind of buttressed or buoyed us for a while. Coming into this fall, and as Amy mentioned, a summer’s worth of research and study and so forth, we came up with ways to approach our teaching in that somewhat of a direct way or somewhat of a similar way to what we had been doing before. Now, for me specifically at the College, for example the College choir, which is a main part of what I do. I usually have about 40 students in a very large space that seats 800, and we sit side by side and we do our thing four hours a week. Now I have the group limited to 30, broken into groups of 10. They are spaced 12 or more feet apart. And we rehearse for 45 minutes tops, twice a week. So that gives 90 minutes. So a few major things have changed that seemed like negatives in that we’re together less. That’s the main thing, we’re together less but we’re also farther apart. Musicians usually wanna get closer together, as close together as possible. And we can’t, we’re going the other way. And then, and we simply can’t be together as long. So our ambitions are tempered a bit. Now on the plus side, there are some things that we have learned. Delivery of information, kind of like this, what you might call the lecture side of things. When I want to tell students a little bit about a piece of music that we’re singing to help us understand, that typically happens now in videos, including musical guidance. So I can post a score on a video and play along with a little bit, discuss the music. I can actually go a little bit deeper than I might have time or the moment to do in a rehearsal and provided the students a jump on to that, they get inside of my study and my research a habit a bit. And so, that’s been a unique outcropping of this that’s really quite positive and something that I’ll take forward. Online use of music tutorials and things has been commonplace for a long time actually. But even when I just mentioned sharing more intimate details of a piece of music that is something that some people have been doing online for some time. So there is a model and incorporating that into my teaching, I think is something I’ll be taking forward. To really show you what it’s like, I have a little video prepared and I will talk at points during this but for a few minutes, I’m going to share evidence of my life in the past a couple of months, sort of soaring highs and the lows that we kind of trowel our way through on a daily basis. The video features two major issues. I mentioned the space issue. We’re spaced far apart and you’ll see that. But we are also, as I talk, I’m gonna begin to share my screen. We are also going to see me doing something I usually don’t do a choir rehearsal, which is setting up microphones. So the room is now going to house or host 11 people, myself, and 10 students. And we’re all going to be in front of a microphone. ♪ Listen listen listen ♪ No space at the top. It sounds staccati. This is my singing mask, has a little more space than their masks. They have the awkward issue of a microphone placed right in front of their face. Couple of feet away. That’s the idea. I think you could have a little bit more aggressive intent with it, a little melody. One, two. What can we do to make that a four bar phrase when there’s actually a rest in between the soprano and alto parts? What’s gonna connect it? Yup, and what can they do? Under normal circumstances in a rehearsal, I can’t hear what they’re saying on the other side of the chapel. There’s no way. So we are all wearing headphones that are plugged into the same system microphone. Careful, careful. So that everyone has each other’s voice in each other’s ear. One, go. Bingo, everybody, one, two. That allows me to keep up. And to try to maintain the pace that I’ve been able to keep in a typical rehearsal, I can stop. I can say something. Everyone hears me clearly. I don’t feel I need to yell. They can hear each other in a more direct way That said, that’s not why we sing. We don’t sing to use headphones. We sing to make a big loud sound. So we have to figure out how to balance this in the ear thing with the room sound. And it’s very different with different numbers of people and being so far apart. Two, three, one. Now this is one choir, but technology allows me to record each group. This is what it sounds like with both groups. That’s really the second group is singing with the recording of the first group while they’re being recorded. The multi-track video. I’m going to pause it and move ahead just a little bit to my last segment, ‘cause I know time is closing. So with this segment, you’ll hear a different ensemble. This is four people very far apart. We are actually attempting detail work on a piece of music and you’ll hear just a different sound of it with this piece of music. We each need to hear very clearly what is going on with each other’s voices. So the technology really is making this possible. That’s really nice. Does it feel good?

- [Students] Yes. So that last comment is just to show that they love doing what they’re doing. They’re very, very happy to be able to do what we’re doing even under these circumstances. So thank you very much.

- Hello, everyone. My name is Louisa Burnham. I’m in the History Department and every fall I teach a class called the Making of Europe and in the Making of Europe it’s a class where I really try to make everyone love history. That’s kind of what I do. And I’m a very enthusiastic sort of, I move around a lot. I talk a lot. I try to have an ebullient room. And the problem is that when we’re being remote with each other, it’s just hard. Every Zoom session is exhausting. I can find we put in more energy than we ever do, doing anything else. And so last spring, I found that when I was working with my students, when we had to go to remote, I missed a couple of things. Once I missed that kind of a room and that kind of energy. And I also missed spending time with my students because I was doing things asynchronously. And so this semester I decided that I needed to do some synchronous work because otherwise I was really gonna be unhappy. And I also really needed to make that ebullience, that excitement in a different way. So DLINQ taught me how to make a more interesting Canvas website. And so, I spent a whole lot of my summer doing this and the idea was to give a lot of excitement to each subject that we worked with. And so I set it up with the Sainte-Chapelle right there up at the top. By the way, Making of Europe goes from about, we do a backwards glance at Rome and then we go up to 1648 and I’ve set this up with a nice little grid here just so that it was a little more interesting than making the typical Canvas modules. And so what I’d like to do is I’d just like to quickly show you one of my modules. And I figured why not? Let’s go for what I just spent my entire week doing which is to say week six cause I have to be a week ahead of them. We had sections this morning on Charlemagne, but I spent a whole lot of my time this past week working on getting something called The Three Orders set. And so my idea with this is really to have all kinds of things, both very serious things. So we only meet in sections once a week. So what I would have called lecture before is now these asynchronous readings and videos, and I set them up here so that they can see what’s coming. And so, there’s always a welcome video. In this case, I’ve got a an introduction to the whole work of the week as a whole. And then, because this idea of the three orders is that there are three orders. Those who fight, those who pray, those who work. I did a series of mini lectures as I call them. They’re always under 15 minutes and put them out there, so that they were able to listen to them. And then next Friday, we will all get together. And we’ll be talking about that. And I do take a lot of care at doing things like putting a cool picture from the Latrelle Salter when we’re gonna talk about those who work or when we’re talking about those who pray we’ve got Hildegard of Bingen right here. And just anything like that. And then I do things that are sometimes a little bit silly. If you’re going to talk about medieval ordeals and there is no better illustration of that then Monty Python’s Witch Village scene, you know? If you know, she’s a witch, how do you know she’s a witch? Well, she turned me into a newt, and that whole scene is actually incredibly good at talking about and a medieval ordeal. And it has a bonus of a medieval logical syllogism that goes on, which is just awesome. So I do the stuff too. And then each week, we’ll have some kinds of assessments. We’ll have something that is a new project for me, using something called social annotation software where students collaborate in writing comments on different texts. And I’m still a little uncertain about it, but I’m kind of enjoying doing it. And I think the students are enjoying doing it as well. But then at the bottom is I have to say the part I love the most as one does, which are all the fun things for every week. And my idea was to give that kind of energy that I try to give in the classroom in other ways. And sometimes it’s dumb little things like how to make a Mott-and-Bailey meme, but then it might be a story about an archeological dig with a nun who had Lapis Lazuli in her teeth from the Middle Ages. Or it might be more about the Bayeux Tapestry, which you might’ve seen is all over this website for this week. Or it might be something a little bit more serious. And throughout the semester, I’ve been emphasizing the theme of travel, and also emphasizing the idea that we have to expand our idea of what the Middle Ages were all about and how we can expand our idea of in particular, that it was not just this white world up in Northern Europe. And I came across an article about a Nubian king who was in Constantinople in 1204. And so I decided, okay, I’m gonna write that up and put it in a little thing that people can take a look at and found a good image. And then at the end of the semester, all of the things that have to do with travel will become a possibility for one of the lectures on the final exam. So my idea here is to bring together a whole lot of different stuff that I’m enthusiastic about. And then I hope my students become enthusiastic about as well. And it also helps me because I have fun and I hope that that comes across to my students as well. So that’s about what I have to say. I’ll leave you with, you know, with a pretty picture of Hildegard of Bingen.

- Okay, so I’m up. Hi, I’m Mike Sheridan and I am intensely jealous about the awesome graphics that we just saw and that’s not what I’m gonna be giving you basically. I’m gonna be talking about my experiences in the spring and in the fall. I teach anthropology and a lot of anthropology is students interacting with the text and then interacting with each other and interaction has been pretty rough. So in the spring, when we went all remote the two major experiences that stand out from the spring for me are first, my learning curve was 85 degrees. It was steep and hard. I was learning how to make videos in Panopto. And I have risen to my level of incompetence, and I can make a video, but it takes me a very long time. But the most important thing that I noticed was that students were scared and lonely and they really needed a place in class to connect. And so every class meeting became a a regular ritual that I think it was across the U.S. but for us, it was called Rosebud and Thorn. And what that meant was that as we went around in a group, each student would take a turn saying for this week, my Rose is and that was something beautiful that happened to them. My thorn is something difficult that happened to them. And my bud, my hope for the future, is this, and that sharing really got them bonded together like I had never seen in a class. I think part of it was going through a crisis together but I had expected my classes to fragment. I had expected that I would be dealing with several dozen very lonely people, but that’s not what happened. They connected. And the results of this were really amazing. I’ll post this in the chat if I do it correctly, but in in my theory class typically… Okay, it’s there now you guys can go have a look at it, if you want to. In my theory class, students do some kind of case study where they apply anthropological theory to something that they observe and observation suddenly couldn’t happen. So instead of not doing that exercise, the students came up with a great idea. They did a big group project applying the theory that we’d been studying to their experiences of COVID-19. And it led to a big group project of pretty good quality, enough that I wanted to put it on our website as a working paper. And I’m still seeing that the footprint of that exercise now. I’ve got six of those students in another class now, and their command of theory is the best I’ve ever seen in any cohort. And I think it’s because they went through that experience together. What I’m doing this fall is a blend of in-person and Zoom instruction. So I’ve got Mondays, I’ve got two in-person classes. Wednesday is one in-person, one Zoom, and then Friday is a Zoom discussion. And the big change I made for these classes was that I threw out the old syllabus because I had relied on hard copy textbooks. And I was worried that if we went remote again that we would lose access to library materials. So I decided everything needed to be an ebook that we had in the library that the students wouldn’t have to have the choice of either buying or needing to get that hard copy from course reserves. So everything became an ebook. And that meant a lot of my summer was spent reinventing my syllabi. We talk a little bit about my Africa class. So that class is 26 students. Typically, I like to lecture on Mondays and then we do a group activity Wednesdays and then we have a discussion Friday. Group activities became difficult, but I’ve come up with a low tech, but it seems to work solution. Students are placed six feet apart, and I can’t make them. I don’t want to make them be in small groups where they can have discussions. So our work-around was I put up a big Google Doc on the screen of the classroom, and then students have their laptops and they all log into that shared screen. And then they can type to each other while they are in their six foot apart seats wearing masks. And even without speaking to each other, if they don’t want to because someone is maybe in their group, but 12 feet away and they couldn’t hear them. They can type to each other. And the it’s sort a group discussion that leads to text and suddenly I’ve realized this is a great way to produce notes. This is a great way to produce a record of what we’ve done. And the students say that they’re getting better notes from doing it together than they would have if they had done it themselves. So I think I’m probably gonna keep that. The other experience I’ve got is in my senior seminar, it’s called Anthropology of Development. And it was going to be an exercise of students reading about anthropology and development, but then having partners either in the community or in Vermont state government with whom they would do some kind of applied anthropology development project. That didn’t work. That couldn’t happen because we don’t want them leaving campus. So my fallback was something that has worked out spectacularly well. I brought in 10 guest speakers, all of whom are alumni all of whom now work in the development industry. And every Wednesday we have a Zoom meeting in which my students interview the guest speaker. So the speakers don’t prepare a thing. They Zoom in with us, and then they do a Q and A, and the students have to figure out how to ask questions that get answers from the speakers that allow them to write papers that synthesize what they’ve read with what the speakers say about their experiences in this field. And I am amazed. It works really well. The alumni are without even having done the reading referring to some of the same concepts that are coming up in the text, which is great. It sounds like I planned it, but I actually hadn’t. So overall I’m finding that having some remote teaching leads to these new capabilities that I didn’t know about, and that I think when I get back to the regular teaching that we all dream of, in that far off land called the future, I’m probably gonna keep a lot of this stuff that I don’t want to go back to normal. I want to go back to picking and choosing what’s better and what makes some of this engagement and the kind of teaching that we do here, different levels and kinds of engagement. So I started my spring as deeply frustrated as everybody else about being remote. But at this point, I can’t say that I like it. I miss the classroom, but I can see the advantages of the skills that we and our students are picking up in new ways of interacting. So I guess the silver lining in this big cloud. And with that I’ll hand it off.

- Thanks, yeah. I also don’t have any nice videos, like Jeff and Louisa, so happy to follow Michael. But my name’s David Allen. I teach in the Biology Department and this semester I’m teaching a biostatistics and experimental design class and this class is required for majors. And so, because of that, I really wanted to make the class open to students who are on campus and off campus. But it is a class where, you know, the hands-on is so important when you’re thinking about how to design an experiment and then actually conducting those experiments to generate the data to illustrate the statistical concepts. So yeah, like my colleagues, I thought a lot over the summer about what was gonna work best and how to, you know, compare to that sort of like triage of the spring semester really reflect on how I could make this work. So what I’m doing is I have asynchronous lectures where two 20-minute lectures that get into sort of either the principles of experimental design that we’re talking about, or the statistical tests that we’re talking about. And those actually, I had been thinking a lot about this idea of flipping a class even before and this is sort of like forced me to do it. And that I find actually really works, especially for some very technical concepts of how do you do anova and how do you set up the data to do it? And what is the code to do it in the statistical programming language we learn. And I think that then it really helps for a video. A student can pause it and then try to work it through on their own example. And then like, okay, now they’re ready to play it and describing in a nova over and over and over. I actually think that that video helps. So we have those two asynchronous lectures. Then we meet synchronously for like discussion sections or group work or where they work on problem sets. And so that’s the whole idea of like this flipped classroom where they can watch this technical discussion of how to do these tests on their own. And then what’s helpful about doing things together is working on problem sets or working through examples or discussing different concepts in experimental design. So we have two of those a week as well. And then we have both in-person and remote labs. So I have some students who are taking in-person labs, and then for the students who are remote I’ve either mailed them the supplies if they’re off campus or they pick up the supplies. And so that’s been fun too. And so they then like post their updates of the labs on Canvas. We’re growing these little brassica fast plants that grow up very quickly and can grow in really easy conditions. So every student is going to be growing these. We haven’t started this lab but these plants in their dorm rooms or at home. And I think that actually again illustrates some really interesting ideas in statistics. So we’ll all be doing an experimental manipulation where we’re growing under two light conditions, but then there’s tremendous variation across our dorm rooms, the temperature. And that is really interesting. How do we deal with that variation statistically? And that’s actually really important if we’re thinking about like a multi-site vaccine trial. So when you have a trial you wanna do it at multiple sites because that variation is interesting. And so we can really think about block design or multiple site design and how do we deal with that variation? So like my colleagues I’m really seeing some sort of like some silver linings in this and how can I use use these constraints, but to illustrate interesting aspects of the class I’m teaching. So yeah, I’ve emailed them some supplies for a lab on growing these little plants. We’ve done a seed dispersal lab, a pollination lab. And so yeah, that’s what I want to talk about. Yeah, yeah. And so I really did force me to think about what are the key concepts that are important for this topic. And so how can I really think about what do I want these students to learn? And obviously it’s important thinking about interpreting scientific results. So how can you read a scientific paper and think about how the experiment was done? Obviously, we’re gonna be thinking a lot about vaccine trials and interpreting results for that. And so, that makes it that much more compelling as well.

- Great, thank you everyone for sharing what your very diverse approaches and all the work that you put into it. It’s wonderful to hear. So it is time for Q and A, and we don’t quite have any questions in the Q and A box yet. So if you are hoping to ask a question, please click the little Q and A button at the bottom of your screen and type your question for the panelists. In the meantime, I’ll prime the pump and ask a little bit about your thoughts on community building in this new environment. So over the summer, we heard a lot of faculty concerned about and very interested in making sure that community was a key part of their courses this fall. So I’m curious what community looks like in your class this fall. I’ll open it to anyone.

- I’ll go with a couple of things. The restrictions on numbers of singing affected my first year seminar this fall. We spent some time on Zoom in discussion of readings and concepts that of course doing some writing but we spend time singing. The point of that part of the semester course, being that singing together and anything from “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to a pop song that the students want to bring and share with the class, develops community across the ensemble. We can’t do that all at once. So the class is split in half, and I’ve managed to find time to do that. So I’m exploring ways that we can hear each other. I can record one class and the other class, so to speak can hear it. But in the choir, in the larger group of the students kind of took it on themselves. They have study groups. So they take the principle of community that they remember and now they just go outside and they’ll be in the vicinity of our rehearsal hall while another group is rehearsing and maybe before dinner or something like that. So there’s a bit of a frustration of how to get people together that in some ways is overcome by being able to see each other’s faces without masks on Zoom and hear each other’s voices when all put together. And then there are the students themselves working out ways to get together. It’s like the effort also replaces a little bit of the reality or the eventuality that we used to have so easily.

- What I’m finding is that no matter what I teach, they want to talk about COVID or they need to talk about COVID. And so I’ve built a lot of ways of talking about COVID and community into what we’re doing in both classes. So it’s too early for any scholarship on COVID in Africa to have come out, but I’ve got them reading an entire book on responses in a rural Sierra Leonean village to Ebola and what happened to that community during that pandemic and what can we as readers learn from that? So I think I’m finding what’s building community in my classes is the topic of community, I think.

- I’ll just say it’s the hardest thing. And it was the thing I worried about most this summer. And I’ve always had this weird little thing where I put groups, the class groups in classes together, in what I call tithings, which is a thing from a Medieval English village. And so, and I’ve actually found that the tithings work really well on Zoom because you can put them in those little breakout rooms you know, and as long as you’ve got them set up right it works brilliantly. I put them into tithings practically the second we get to class and it’s become something that works much better than I anticipated.

- Yeah, I’ll agree with Louisa that it’s very hard. I have these two in-person labs and obviously that makes it a lot easier in those students. I really crave that in-person lab community. And for the other students, I do find these communities building up in the synchronous like problem set where I do let them work together. And so if two of them seem, or three of them seem to be like in the similar place with that assignment, then I’ll put them into a breakout room and they can work on that, the problem set together. But it’s true.

- Excellent. Thank you. We have a question from Terry Young asking, what has replaced students dropping in to see you during office hours?

- I’ll answer that one. I love Zoom office hours, and that was true actually even in the spring. I actually used all my synchronous time, the time that I had because we weren’t expecting to go remote or anything. I use that all as office hours. And I told students that they had to come see me twice or something like that. And they would drop in and I said no waiting room, no anything, just drop in and I’ve done the same. Well, I haven’t done the same thing. I don’t have that synchronous time but I have hours during the week that are my office hours. And some of them were a little more formal. I say, okay, if you really have something private you wanna discuss with me, then, you know, Thursday is your good day. But Mondays, I just say, drop in. Everybody comes in and you know, it’s been fun. I actually love talking with them. I had students last spring who showed up every day, every office hours just because I think they needed that community and they wanted that community. So I love Zoom office hours.

- Excellent. Thank you. We have a question from Thomas Gavin asking, how are you finding the students’ level of involvement and inquisitiveness during distance remote learning as opposed to class when classes were in person? Who would like to take that?

- Yeah, I’ll jump in on that. I definitely think that it’s harder to maintain that level of engagement. And I think in the spring I tried to just go and give my normal lectures through Zoom and the engagement and inquisitiveness really dropped off. And so over the summer, really thinking about what was gonna work and what wasn’t gonna work. And I can’t just give the same lectures personally that I was giving before through Zoom. And so I think this semester, I’ve felt like it’s rebounded and that through some combination of students just buying into the what we have to do, and my improvement in this sort of pedagogy that the inquisitiveness has come back and I’ve been excited about it

- In a sense that’s why I have those fun things down at the bottom. My idea is that the idea is to try to build a little silliness because I think silliness can be a great way to get community going. And I’m ridiculous. So, you know, I believe in being silly in class and so get a Monty Python thing going and I think it helps it helps bring on that inquisitiveness, but it is hard.

- One thing that I found is that students are eager to make this work. And at the beginning of the semester, I laid out that it’s gonna be hard that we’re all sitting apart. Like in one of my classrooms I’m in Twilight Auditorium for my seminar. 12 students in a room that holds 105 seats or so. And so five, six of the seats are zip-tied shut. They cannot get together, even if they wanted to. So I challenged them to say, we need community here to have really good learning experience. You guys need to really talk to each other. You need to respond to each other’s posts on the Canvas discussion board and make comments to each other. And you need to swap rough drafts of your essays for a peer feedback, even if you think it’s not good enough to share, you still should, because we need that extra level of engagement to get that energy to get past our separation and they’ve responded. They really are rising to that challenge, I think.

- Sorry, I was looking for my unmute button there. Excellent. Thank you. We have a question from Thomas Gavin again. How are you finding your experience as compared to the post COVID exodus classes in the spring earlier this year? So you all have compared a little bit in what you were saying before. What are some other characteristics you might use to describe the difference between the spring and the fall? Well, I’ll point to just real quickly. For what I work with students, the community is a major aspect. And so in the spring, we had to be entirely Zooming everything, and you can’t have a rehearsal Zoom. It doesn’t work. So it was all about the social connection. And actually that spilled into the summer where I then reached out to alumni. And throughout the summer, weekly, we had current students and alumni meeting to just be together. And I was like the rosebud and thorn kind of thing. That was the most meaningful check-in that there was. Now those students want to be together. So it’s a tricky comparison for me, and that I really change if we are remote, my teaching is completely different. If we are in person, it’s now just completely more stressful than it was before. And it takes three times as long, but it’s still zeroing in as also as mentioned earlier on really what is necessary. And there’s this constructive thought to that. But I think that the idea of going remote again or the question of what’s coming up in the spring semester I don’t anticipate more people gathering. I don’t anticipate, so to speak, opening up but I anticipate maintaining and then discovering more of what we can do within the circumstance we have.

- One thing that I’m noticing is that my students don’t seem to want or need the rosebud thorn right now. When I ask them, how are you guys doing? Or I ask sometimes to get them to be more expressive about people not having a good experience. I say, how are the other people around you doing? That way they don’t have to talk about themselves. And overall, they are reporting that things are going okay. And I haven’t done any rosebud thorn since back in the spring. I’m keeping it in the back pocket in case we need it. But I’m getting a lot of positivity from my students.

- This might be a question maybe just for Jeff. Others may want to weigh in. Sally Merz asks will you be able to find creative ways to perform in person for the greater community or hold live theater productions?

- It’s a bit of a mix. We’re gathering as a performing arts chairs and divisions in the coming weeks to respond to what is happening on campus and see what is possible. Not very much different. We may be able to have a performance that has a very small audience. It really depends on who wants to perform and whether or not there needs to be, or would like to be an audience. On point, we canceled our winter term musical, which typically happens in February because first of all, the campus will be remote but we also can’t have an audience. So the opening of that will be slow. And I am hesitant. I will not rush it at all. And I think my colleagues feel the same. We may be able to have a guest artist or a solo person with a few people in the audience or live to Zoom, something like that.

- Jeff, I really want to come hear “The Palestrina.”

- Yeah, that is this fall. I might offer a few things in the spring. I should mention both with music and with theater a lot of performative things were moved to the spring. We just shifted classes in plays and performances to the spring. So it may be a rather rich experience. All of my performance this fall will be Facebook premiere watch parties, but then like our coursework sometimes you can observe later and rewind and all that. And then maybe in the spring we can do something live that combines both.

- Wonderful. Thank you. Speaking of the winter and spring we have two questions related to those semesters upcoming. Liz Parker and Ellen Austin are asking about more information about what you’re thinking for the winter and spring terms. So Ellen in particular is asking, she’s saying she’s unfamiliar with J-Terms. So how might your formats adapt for that? And then Liz is asking about spring

- I’m not teaching J-Term this year. So I’m hoping never to have to do J-Term by Zoom because that’s just doing hours of Zoom, but I’m sure that my colleagues are working on good solutions for that, but I will say the spring I’ve been thinking a lot about the spring and I have classes that are going to involve research, both two classes, one with a big research project that’s collaborative. And then the other one is individual research projects. And I’ve just been thinking a lot about how I can make that work, both synchronously, asynchronously, and how to use the abilities of what I’ve been using this semester and how to put those things together. But it’s something I think a lot about and hope that we can make that work, but I’ve learned a lot. That’s the thing, I’ve learned so much. And that’s amazing in how it’s making me think about these things.

- Yeah. The announcement for winter term and spring, were just in earlier this week. And so I’m beginning to think about my classes for the spring and winter term. Winter term will be all Zoom, but in the spring I’m teaching intro bio, which is a big class of 36 students. And so I’m going to have to do the lectures online but thinking about some in-person and some remote discussion sections just to hope to have some interactions with the students. And then I teach a forest ecology class where really the the heart of that class is trips outside to the surrounding woods. And so I think it just depends on fan limits and whether that’s gonna be possible or will be just all walking to woods around the campus which luckily there are some beautiful forest around the campus as well.

- I’ll probably keep the format that I’ve got now because I’m happy with what I’ve got this fall. And I think it’ll work for the spring, except for what happens if my environmental anthropology class fills? If it fills to 35 then I’ll be online and that’s not the way I prefer it, but it depends on how much demand there is, I think. If it’s only 20, 25, then I’ll probably continue to have some in-person teaching within Zoom discussions. So for me, it depends. Jeff, how about you? Oh, go ahead, Louisa.

- The one thing that I’ve been thinking about is, how I wanna have, although I’ve liked some of the things I’ve done, I wanna have more synchronous time and it’s gonna be over Zoom because I’m not gonna be teaching on campus but I intend to sort of keep that time so those sort of hours that are gonna be mine and some of it I want to devote to that kind of drop in thing like I did last spring and for others I really just wanna be able to hold more discussions. I don’t expect to use that time every class time because there’s lots of other stuff that I’m gonna have them doing but I really I miss them. So I wanna make sure that we have even more of that time, that face time.

- Awesome. So one question I have that I want to pose to you all. You all have mentioned at different times things that you’ve done that you’re thinking about keeping. And so I wonder, thinking beyond even the spring, what are some things that you’re taking away from this experience that will continue to shape how you teach going forward? It might be technologies, it might be approaches it might be pandemic-related learnings, but what are some things that you’re taking away with you?

- Yeah, I guess I sort of mentioned this before this idea of flipping the classroom where some things that we typically lecture could be done very easily through a video where students can watch it on their own time and of some of that instruction really doesn’t have to happen with me in the room. And so some of my colleagues have been doing that and I’d always sort of like, “Oh boy, that seems cool. I wanna try it, but this is actually got me to do it.” So I’ve learned the technology to make the videos and see where those that’s an effective learning tool. And then the idea being that once you come back into the classroom you just have more time for interaction and for student questions and for work discussions or group projects. And so now that I’ve really gotten into that pedagogy and learned the tools that I’m definitely gonna bring forward with me. I’m going to let my Luddite membership lapse and I’ll be incorporating a lot of these technologies into what I do from now on. I found it was kind of fun making the little videos and, you know, you can be goofy in a new way. And they’re kind of a blast to make, you know? I start every single one of them off like, “Hello, historians!” I don’t know. I mean, I think like David I think I’m gonna keep some of the flipped classroom thing going in some ways, because I like it. I like that a lot.

- Yeah, I have to echo all of that. I think that by preparing a video that shows a little bit about a piece of music, it helps me to have everyone think about something outside of their specific participation. What is another person doing in this? And then if I can take it a step further in the future by requiring the students to do, I can be a little bit more adamant about the importance of this and the importance of what I’m presenting where it would be simply me standing there and saying that in the classroom or in the rehearsal, but in the rehearsal especially if we don’t wanna talk much. Wanna get down to experiential learning and this will be helpful. The technology will probably help me because as you saw with everyone with a microphone in front of them I don’t do this, but I can single them out. I can go back and listen and figure out just what are you doing? But with my smaller group, I can post that to them on a private site and they can evaluate themselves. That’s a really powerful thing that is an academic tool certainly. So it’s a bit of still reforming. How do I do that? I’ve been getting out of, yeah, the way I’ve always done things but it’s pretty exciting to think of quality that can emerge from it and the agency for the students.

- So I have one more sneaky question to ask you and then I think we’ll start to wrap it up. And Jeff, it does look like there’s one more question for you that you might be able to answer in the chat from Kim Kiner, so I’ll just point that out real quick. So my sneaky question is you have an audience of parents here. And so I wonder if you might have some advice to give to parents about things they might advise their students or any guidance you might provide to parents on what’s going on right now and what to talk to their students about. Hey, I’ll start. Just to give you one more second. One thing we know from research on online and hybrid education is that student perception of online and hybrid education impacts their experience of it, so if they believe that their experience is going to be less beneficial to them than an in-person experience, it’s likely to be. And so, you know, one thing I encourage parents to talk to their students about is changing that mindset, reframing the experience as a unique once in a lifetime experience that will be a lot of learning of different sorts. So that’s one piece of advice I give to parents is talk to your kiddos about reframing that experience for them. So I’ll hand it off to somebody else. So I think that no matter what we’re teaching we’re actually teaching how to cope with stress, how to cope with crises, how to adapt, how to be flexible how to be patient. And sometimes that comes up explicitly in a class, I think. I think that my advice, but I’m really advising myself because my kids are also going through this flexibility and patience. And then when you think you’ve hit your end of the rope, add more rope and keep going and be patient with yourselves. Cause what we’re doing is really hard and keep on keeping on for the sake of the kids is of course something we really need to do to give them that sense of normalcy and a sense of a purpose in their lives and being the grown-ups around these kids with that patience while we’re also stressed ourselves is hard work. So patience, fortitude, courage, we’ll get through. Well, we have hit pretty much the end of our hour. I want to share with you all that you panelists that we have lots of comments in the Q and A thanking you both for today’s panel and for the amazing hard work that you’ve been doing to prepare for this this unusual experience of teaching during a pandemic. So on behalf of the parents attending, I want to thank you for all that amazing hard work and for the things that you do on behalf of the Middlebury students and wish you the very best as you finish out the semester and start preparing for winter and spring term as well. So may it be healthy and happy for all of us. And thank you parents for attending. What a pleasure to have you here. And we look forward to continuing to work with your students and again, health and happiness to all of you as we move forward. Thanks, everyone.

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