The 2022 school year was a school year like no other. Students, faculty and staff navigated through the changing regulations of COVID-19 with agility and endurance. Chelsea Zhang, a graduate associate at CNDLS and graduating public relations student, asked several students and faculty members to reflect on the 2021-2022 school year at Georgetown.
Sophie Grabiec – Graduate Student in the English M.A. program
Sophie’s favourite memory from this past year was finishing her capstone in the English department. “It was a great stepping stone – awesome and insightful.” The year presented a series of unique challenges to which Sophie responded, “What I learned is that simple is best.” Building a social community in the English program and trying to find footing in a new cohort during COVID-19 was especially challenging, Sophie explained. She learned that when planning events as the Chair of the English Graduate Student Association, listening to people around her for their needs helped build events that worked for everyone. In accordance with this year’s TLISI theme of Creating Space, Sophie created a lot of space for herself to not be productive and not fill her calendar, making sure to take time off and relax, while balancing work/ self time.
Jason Kramer – Graduate student in the Learning, Design and Technology (LDT) program
Jason especially enjoyed his time with LMD Labs this school year by designing a sample zombie apocalypse scenario for an Emergency Management class, which he will present at the Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute(TLISI). This year offered him the opportunity to improve his technical skills to enhance his teaching skills. Jason noted “ All technology that we use has to be human-centered. I’ve always viewed technology as an important tool in the classroom to impact greater learning outcomes.” If he could have done something differently this past year, he “would definitely avoid staying out too late working on assignments and projects, go for periodic walks, allow my creative flow in the morning, and take a break and walk away from an assignment.” In response to TLISI’s theme, Jason feels that “Creating space is an opportunity to reflect on what were are thinking.In a one hour class, remembering to take 10 min breaks is vital to feel rejuvenated after.”
Katherine Landler – Undergraduate student majoring in Biology and Psychology
Katherine’s favorite memory and most difficult challenge has been the transition to in-person activities. In the past year, Katherine has enjoyed studying out on the lawn with friends, going to basketball games, and returning to DC again after the pandemic. Yet, she cites this transition to in-person activities as the most difficult thing as well as her favorite thing. According to her, the best way to overcome this challenge is to talk about the things that happened and be present. “Things will not be the same as two years ago, but that’s okay.” Katherine points out that Zoom has allowed students to experience lectures and not miss learning time when they are unable to make it to class. “Compared to freshman year, I have done so much this year, and I am so lucky that Georgetown has given me those opportunities. I’m better now at knowing what I want and don’t want, and at recognizing when I need to take a step back or take a break.”
Ming Ho – Professor, Family Medicine & Associate Director, CENTILE
Dr. Ho’s best memory from the past year is “focusing on the present moment outside.” She facilitates a small group format where she and colleagues work on different techniques of mind, body and medicine. Practicing meditation and focusing on the present moment provided a break from classes on Zoom. Dr Ho. reflected that “sharing my challenges helped students share their challenges.” In terms of Zoom, she agrees it is convenient and saves time for everybody because it doesn’t involve traveling, although there are noticeable limitations. “However, due to the changing regulations of COVID-19 I had to play that by ear and did not feel comfortable with in-person meetings until the end of the spring semester.”
Andreas Kern – Professor, McCourt School of Public Policy
Professor Kern enjoyed his thesis workshop along with the training workshops the most this year. A new cohort of students experience a challenging time adjusting to the pace of the course, while learning about macroeconomics and microeconomics. And so Professor Kern extended deadlines, redesigned assignments, implemented different testing components and adjusted the pace of the course. A longtime advocate of flexibility in the classroom, Andreas points out that “the infrastructure is coming to par to what I envisioned for classes ten years ago.” Professor Kern appreciates that technology allows teachers to be able to screen share, livestream, and create interactive lectures which lets students collaborate on a more global level. “Teaching some classes on Zoom allowed me to be much more aware of the learning challenges of students. We need to dramatically rethink how we design spaces of collaboration. I believe that the original two and half hour traditional classroom setting is not the ideal space for students to really learn and we need to be innovative to give students the opportunity to grow.”
Nicholas Durand – Professor, Digital Analytics at the School of Continuing Studies (SCS)
“Going back in person” after two virtual and hybrid years was Professor Durand’s favorite memory this year. Despite the prevailing circumstances of this school year, Professor Durand believes that Georgetown has done a great job. Even when the University returned to in-person instruction, his class continued an asynchronous option, which presented its own set of challenges as the material in Data Analytics is complex and hard to grasp without face-to-face interaction. It is harder for asynchronous students to understand the material, so more office hours and extended office hours are needed. He liked having Zoom and the ability to utilize automated recordings and edit recordings. “As a teacher,” Professor Durand asserts, “ I’m learning every time I teach this class, and I always try to make sure to implement the feedback from my students to make sure that every class is better than the last. With two different classes, it can be quite difficult as I try to be there for my students when they need me to the best of my ability. Sometimes I wake up early, say 6 am, and write down everything that I need to do and start working. One of my strategies to create space is to not check my email as much on the weekends.”