I finished my first two weeks of teaching at my new job! Last spring, at the height of the pandemic, I switched positions from one state university to another one. I teach almost the exact same Art Education pre-service classes, but now after 12 years in higher education, I am on the tenure track. My new art department is much larger, with more professors but also more art majors and a graduate program.
I got a choice on how I would like to teach my classes Face-to-Face, completely Online, Hybrid, or a new model called HyFlex. I selected the HyFlex model. Let’s discuss.
My class delivery is a new model called HyFlex. HyFlex means that I teach live in person in the classroom at the same time I teach live on Zoom for students outside the classroom. What I like about this technology nightmare is that the students get to select each class if they want to come to school and be exposed or if they need to join class remotely. I take attendance in my class and wouldn’t want a student to come to school who is sick just so their grade doesn’t drop. The decision is on the student, and they can switch every class depending on their situation. The academic year is only two weeks long at this point, but I have had very good attendance, not perfect.
There are many things I need to do better with technology. I need to not get too wrapped up at the beginning of class with announcements that I forget to check the Zoom waiting room to let students into the class. A couple of students sat in there for about 5 minutes because I had walked away from the front podium to talk at the chalkboard. Speaking of the podium, I am a walk around the room teacher, and it is hard not to circulate while going through the Powerpoint. I was so excited that I could be on Zoom live, share my screen, AND my remote clicker worked to advance my PowerPoint slides while I walked around! If you know my technology levels, that was a huge accomplishment.
Next week I’m going to remind the students joining remotely that they can unmute and chime into the discussion. Last class, they put answers in the chat, but that was not visible.
I love seeing my students some in the classroom and online. We are all being safe, wearing masks and social distancing because we (students or faculty) do not want to go completely online. If it happens we will deal with it, but so far we are taking measures to be safe, and I feel comfortable in my setting.
I have tried so many different masks. I have bought some, I have made some, and I have painted on some. I have also experimented with two different types of face shields. This is not an exhausted list of options, but here are some of my recommendations.
Handmade cloth face mask.
A little warm, but I feel completely protected. If you wear a mask all day, I suggest a change of mask at lunch. The mask gets moist with your breath and talking all morning that a change after lunch will reenergize you for the afternoon classes. I have a pile of masks that get hand-washed every weekend, so they are ready for the coming week.
The face shield. I tried two face shields, the headband one (not pictured) gave me a headache. I normally need to watch that because being prone to headaches, some headbands and glasses also do it. The face shield with the nose piece was better, but with my glasses, it makes my glasses slide down my nose, making me readjust them several times through class. The plus side of the face shield is that you can see a whole face!
Let’s be honest, being new and meeting so many people and students, I will not recognize them if they switch masks or if I see them without a mask. The first time I wore the face shield to class, my students said, “You look so different!” The face shield I got does not fog up, and the major plus is that you can wear lipstick.
Clear face masks. I have a handmade cloth face mask with just an inset of plastic acetate, and it fogs after a couple of minutes. I tried an old trick of putting soap (Dawn liquid dish soap) on the inside and then wiped it off with a paper towel. That works a little bit better; you might get 45 minutes to an hour out of it. I wore it to the hairdresser, and it was no match for the hairdryer and high humidity.
The solid clear mask I have on in the photo below is by a company called Clear Mask. I learned about this product on the Today Show. According to their website, this product is FDA approved, and I have worn it for a class, and it did not fog up. It also has foam on the top and bottom, so it sits differently on your face. My glasses didn't fog up with it, so that is an improvement. I got some of these masks for my students because I want to see their faces.
I think the transparent masks are useful if you have deaf students or work with students and faculty that are hard of hearing. I didn’t realize how I relied on lips until they were gone. I’m now asking my pre-service student teachers to “Use your teacher voice and project in the class.”
Lastly, we are still teaching in a pandemic. There are so many apps and new technologies floating around there. You cannot be a master of every single thing. Start small and try to add one new technology.
I see teachers making amazing videos, using editing software for closed captioning, and linking everything to their Bitmoji classroom. That is wonderful! Do not beat yourself up if you are going a little slower than usual and trying the technology at a different pace than fellow teachers. You are doing great, even without a Bitmoji classroom. Be kind to yourself. You will be amazingly marketable after this is all over with what you have already learned and will be a better, more compassionate teacher.
I teach future art teachers at Emporia State University. Here is what is going on in my classes.