I tend towards the extemporaneous in my teaching — I am very good at addressing students where they’re at in any given moment, pivoting on a point, and going deep into an analysis on the spot. However, in a remote classroom teaching environment, it is very difficult to get a “read on the room” and do these things effectively without missing something or somebody. And I’m sure that the students are tired of seeing my face all the time on the Zoom cam.
I still want to retain spontaneity in my classes, and give my students more avenues for stream-of-consciousness exploration and analysis. I want to bring back the flow of dialog that I am used to, and that Zoom unfortunately inhibits.
To this end, I have begun to develop visual models that are intended to be stimulus for such wide-ranging discussion. I am building flexible presentations/conversations based on these models, working in a “go anywhere” (kind of) platform called Prezi. It has limitations, but also has given me further ideas about different structures I might implement using our institutional enterprise tools.
In addition to my laptop and external mic which both sit atop my piano, I have a second web cam that I have placed in a chandelier so that I can give a “room view,” and demonstrate larger scale movement for my students. It also gets me moving while I’m teaching, which is really important. I also have my exercise ball, which is in my Peabody studio as well. My students are used to a lot of movement during lessons, and I am trying to encourage them to continue with these whole-body-based explorations in their home environment.
I hope they will reflect on this as a time they rose above the challenges to create artistic experiences that they are proud of. I hope that they will develop both trade- and life-skills that they otherwise might not have.