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Performing during Quarantine

By Staff Writer Ethan Barber

Graphics by Nick Fore

State-wide quarantine has made quite a few changes to schooling over the past few months, from having to find alternative solutions for things as small as spirit week and as big as graduation, to the complete dependence on technology for instruction and working on schoolwork. While a class like history or a foreign language might have only a little trouble adjusting to this new way of learning, some other classes aren’t as fortunate. Among these classes include performing arts such as drama, choir, and sculpture, the teachers of which are finding it harder than ever to integrate integral aspects of their curriculum into online learning techniques like using Canvas or Zoom.

“In my opinion, [online learning] is a sad and sorry substitute for the real thing,” said sculpture and pottery teacher Katy Govan. “Sitting in front of a computer all day does not feel like teaching. However, I believe it’s important to maintain academic forward motion, and if this is the only option we have available to us right now, then we need to make the best of it until something better comes along.”

Other performing arts teachers agreed. “I truly believe that the best way to learn is in person working together,” said drama teacher Robin Tuckett, choir teacher Terry Shaw thought the same. “Choir can’t be taught online,” he said. “It’s that simple. We need people together to be able to sing and build sound.”

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said band teacher Cal Anderson. “Easily the biggest challenge is finding relevance and purpose [in what we do], both for me and the kids. A significant portion of the purpose of our class has vanished; now we have to find purpose on an individual, personal level. I’m struggling to help kids find that, but I’m determined to keep trying.”

All that said, remote learning hasn’t been entirely bad for many teachers. Most are finding ways to make instruction on Canvas and Zoom more meaningful, and some are even learning a few things themselves. Both Shaw and Anderson have found out about technology that can help with learning music, which they hope to use when in-person teaching resumes. “I’ve learned a lot about technology designed to help music classrooms,” said Anderson. “There are some cool things I’ve learned that we’ll be able to bring into the regular classes once we have them.”

Ultimately, a teacher’s goal is to help their students learn. Though remote learning has made this harder than ever before, teachers are doing all they can to keep students engaged. “The negatives [of remote learning] are by far the lack of interaction with students in person,” said Govan. “My students are everything to me, they are the reason I love my job so much. Without them, it just takes all of the awesome out of being a teacher.” Govan has been trying to keep her students engaged by having them build sculptures out of whatever they can find around the house. “I’m trying to get them to see that even the simplest and most basic materials can be turned into art given some creativity, problem-solving, and ingenuity.”