Creating community in the virtual theatre classroom

by Gretchen Nordleaf-Nelson | 1 April 2021 | Posted in: Curriculum

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

After one week in my virtual classroom in March of 2020, I was floundering. I was faced with students not having reliable internet connections, their books were in their lockers at school and not at home, they hated looking at themselves on the screen, they had discovered they could change their Zoom background or make new ones, and the list goes on. Sound familiar? It was as if students and teachers alike had been cast in a science fiction movie that none of us had auditioned for in the first place. Going to school was truly going into another reality.

My students were on overload and we were only one week into virtual learning. We were all in a new environment with variables that had not been in the social mix before. I could not teach my class as usual. Something had to change.


Giving grace
My first step was giving grace to myself. I do not think as teachers and artists we do this often enough. Giving myself grace was permission to forgive my mistakes, lapses in judgment and hurtful behaviour because no one is perfect. After having taught for over 25 years this one was hard for me. The reality was that teaching virtually was a completely foreign land I had to navigate.

Realising that the way something was supposed to happen in-person will not go that way online was inevitable. We were all adapting, students and teachers, to this new format, and at some point, along the way, we might stumble, and it is okay.

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