A Term Online: Teaching Diary (#7)

I mentioned in my last entry that after midterm the students will be coming back to campus (go Thailand, eh?). So the other day I decided to change up my routine a bit. Instead of beaming up to Spaceship Zoom from my desk I would go sit in the assigned classroom of the course and teach from there.

This is what a number of instructors seem to have been doing from the beginning, to some bemusement on my part. I couldn’t quite grok why they’d feel the need to schlep around to different classrooms only to open up the same laptop and meet students online. But the other day I had my own reasons for doing so. I wanted to know where we’d be setting up camp after a few short weeks. And as it was the first time I’d seen the students since the announcement, I wanted to highlight that I’d be there ready to welcome them back and hit the IRL ground running.

I’m not certain anything so deep got through to them, but I did spin the laptop around and give them a view of the room. Turns out it’s an old school language lab. Pics below. Still not sure how I feel about this, but I don’t hate it. Yet.

When I asked one section “How do you feel about coming back?” one student said “I’m not sure. 50/50”. “Why’s that?”, I queried. “Well…none of my uniforms fit anymore!”, they explained. Covid-19 bods. I can relate.

Here’s the lab. It’s very…full. Not all that much room to maneuver.

I do like the IPA chart in a prominent spot on the wall there. It also includes a little verb form table. Cute!

I haven’t given it all that much critical + constructive thought quite yet to be honest…but it’ll be interesting to see how the course ‘translates’ across the shift back to quote-unquote “normal”. I have found myself thinking that all the online courseware (Moodle, YouTube to host vids, Line Group) remains and functions essential the same. And maybe we’re F2F in the lab of 247 headphone sets every OTHER week? I’m not even sure what’s permissible at this point.

What I do know is nobody wants to rush away from what’s been, I think, a perfectly workable thing so far. Also, nobody wants to tear the seem of their uniform trying to squeeze between intercom audio stations vintage 2007. #COVIDbod

***

In other news, I sorta kinda “trolled” my students by spinning an involved yarn about an imaginary best friend at whose wedding I was best man. It was my model of a best man / maid of honor speech. I thought this would be a nice public speaking type to include in this course. These speeches can be fun and juicy! Embarrassing anecdotes, heartfelt waxing poetic, some culturally interesting, linguistically formulaic stuff like a toast at the end.

And when I eventually told them it was all a grand fiction, they wore out the Line emojis in expressing their shock and horror. Which reminds me that I considered banning or at least policing emoji (over)use in the class line groups at the start but decided against it. However, I was happy to see a handful of written replies. Including: “I knew that was gonna happen! Still. Shocked.” Nicely put!

I was just glad it seemed that I’d stoked a bit of emotional investment in the characters while demonstrating ways ways to thank the caterers, fawn over the bride (AB-so-LOOT-ly STUNning!), and slather a bit of sappy sentiment over some sections of your speech.

RIP “Joke” and “Anna”. Perhaps you’ll live again if I ever teach this course once more.

Later in the Line chat I gave myself an Oscar. And told them now is the time to reach down deep for both big dramatic fiction energy and sartorial chops. Of course they don’t have to make up the scene from scratch. It could be the future wedding of people they know. Or, I suggested, they could go BACK in time and be their mom’s maid of honor. Kinda hoping some of them take this up, could be quite cool.

Right. Well it’s bedtime and what’s on my mind is now is less ‘toasts’ than ‘toast’, as in breakfast. The sooner I sleep, the sooner I eat. And that’s no joke!

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