Vanessa R. Sasson '92
Religious Studies professor
I must admit that I was quite nervous about transitioning to teaching remotely. So much of my teaching depends upon human contact, reading the room, getting to know my students and taking my cues from them. I didn’t think I could teach remotely, create video clips of myself talking to a computer, limit myself to a tiny bubble alone in my office. I did not expect I could have any kind of meaningful experience as a teacher in this new reality I was suddenly catapulted into.
But then I offered my first virtual office hours and the students came pouring in. They wanted to see my face, to talk to me directly, and I was over the moon with gratitude. They needed the contact as much as I did. That first week seemed to be all about finding each other again. Seeing each other’s faces and taking a deep collective breath.
After that, things moved much more fluidly. I managed to make my video clips, but I also started holding regular classes at our regular class hour so that we could be together. And I found that almost all of my students show up all the time. It gives them structure (and it gives me that, too) and brings the human element back into the center. It is not the same as the real classroom – nothing will ever top that – but I think we are all discovering how manageable this can be. This is a crisis and we are learning to make do with what we have. Life could be so much worse.
Aaron Gao '20
Personally, while the two weeks following the suspension of in-person instruction, where everyone was scrambling to figure out what to do, were a bit confusing, most of my teachers made the transition smooth and stress-free. Most of my quizzes were cancelled, but that meant that exams would count for more.
Thankfully, the education system as whole has been understanding of the different situations students could be facing. When it comes to finding the motivation to keep working hard, things have been more difficult, and it has made me realize how much being in class and engaging in discussion is a motivator for me.
I find that keeping a routine is very helpful and helps to keep my morale up. Everyone is finding things to help lower their stress during this time and, for me, that’s been working out and staying in contact with my friends.
Katherine Spandidakis '09
Recruitment and Admissions Associate
In Recruitment and Admissions we are working as hard as ever, adapting and evolving our communication strategies. We are collaborating with our colleagues to come up with engaging activities for incoming students, such as Q&A sessions on Facebook. Disappointed as we are that we cannot hold orientation in person, we look forward to welcoming new students to the Marianopolis community through online sessions.
The team is also hard at work, evaluating applications and keeping our connection with students through email. We are in constant communication with each other, balancing our productivity with community: we keep a standing morning check-in where we discuss the day ahead and share in some silliness to start the day with a smile.
Throughout the day I move my workstation from the dining table to the living room sofa, and even to the kitchen counter. No matter where I am, I am glad to be able to continue doing the job that I love, working with my wonderful colleagues and amazing students.
Alex Van Sant '21
Music and Social Science Student
It’s good to have the structure and routine of school and to know that my studies are on track. I’ve been impressed by how my teachers have made so many changes to help us finish this semester.
Miss Herron has completed adjusted our ear-training and theory course so that we can still practice and see new material. Usually we do the exercises together but now we do them alone, which requires a lot more attention but I’m really impressed with how much material we can cover.
My primary instrument lessons are taking place over Zoom, which was definitely awkward at first. But, once again, I got used to it and I can even tell that I am making as much progress now as I would be if I were in person with my voice teacher at McGill.
All my Social teachers are recording their lectures and posting them, which is as close to “real” class as we can get. It’s not passive teaching, they explain the material and are happy to answer questions. By no means are you expected to teach yourself. All my teachers are “present” and hands-on.