LC Faculty Adapt to Online Learning

Many+typical+school+gatherings+such+as+advisee+groups+and+club+meetings+are+meeting+virtually+this+year.

Jordan Korn '22

Many typical school gatherings such as advisee groups and club meetings are meeting virtually this year.

Jamie Zou '23, Contributor

With the escalation of COVID-19 cases in the country, the future of education proceedings has essentially become unchartered territory. While Loomis Chaffee has responded to the pandemic by developing new health and safety guidelines for in-person learners, the effectiveness of distance learning ultimately rests in the hands of teaching faculty.
Because Loomis students reside all around the world, distance learning proved to be a challenge, especially when a large number of the community chose to learn remotely during the first fall term.
“My students were literally all on different pages,” said English teacher Dr. Fiona Mills, referencing the struggle international students faced trying to get required reading books, which were often delayed due to lengthy overseas shipping and complicated customs processes. On top of that, when students resorted to using online copies, they found that these editions had different layouts and page numbers.
Dr. Mills credited her College Level English III Seminar students for exploring possible solutions last spring. “I asked them to come up with an engaging activity for the class…we used [Google Jamboard],” Dr. Mills said, “and I was hooked.”
Jamboard provides a platform for students to collaboratively annotate passages with much less disconnect, approximating physical classroom space in an online setting. Dr. Mills would upload excerpts from passages, and students are then able to interact with the text: circling, highlighting, writing marginalia.
“With Jamboard, we can all be on the same page.” Dr. Mills concluded.
Beyond efficient learning, fun activities can also address the apparent difficulty in forming personal connections remotely.
Math teacher Ms. Nicole Bowen connected with her students through a gameshow she designed based off of the popular comedy series Would I Lie to You?
“Last [spring], we got right into the class material and the whole vibe wasn’t right, people were hesitant to talk. We needed something to warm up with.” Ms. Bowen explained. “I wanted to have some sort of icebreaker.”
The decision to deviate from the standard classroom “icebreaker” activity comes from her personal experiences.
“I always hated [icebreakers] when I was a student, so I was trying to come up with something that wasn’t so painful,” Ms. Bowen added. “The idea is still the same— to make it a comfortable environment for everyone, so they can all get to know each other a little bit more.”
For the game show, students send in three fun facts about themselves, which are mixed with other alternative facts, then each person picks one to read aloud. If the fact applies to you, you convince everyone that you are lying— if it doesn’t, you make up a lie on the spot to keep it going.
To win the game show, you need to trick each other, but the main objective is to learn more about your peers. Ms. Bowen noted that throughout the term, although “some students already knew each other, they’ve come up with facts even their friends didn’t know.”
Though the online space isn’t ideal for anyone, Loomis’ teaching faculty continue to adapt and look for ways to build community, even over Zoom.