Summer 2020 Teaching Reflections

Creating Online Classes

The silver lining of summer 2020 is that I created a new series of online animation classes. It took several months for me to ruminate on how I wanted to approach this challenge. I wanted to translate a tactile learning experience through a screen. And I didn’t want to teach at students for an hour a week on zoom. So in the end I chose to make 5 to 10 minute video lessons that students can follow along at their own pace and offer “Office Hours” 2 times a week. I wrote, recorded, and edited 11 lessons for a class called Stop Motion Adventure. The goal of the class was for students to make a stop motion short. All students received a Special Supply Box filled with handpicked goodies to make a stop motion animation.

My favorite part of this process was writing the scripts for the classes. I’ve been teaching animation for years using a very adaptable syllabus. Writing each lesson felt like solidifying all of my teaching experience into a concrete representation of my voice as a teacher. The process refueled my passion for teaching and helped me get over my fear of online teaching.

Working with Students

In the end I got to work with 31 students ranging from 3rd graders to adults from all over the country. I saw some familiar faces of old students and met a lot of new ones. I’m incredibly impressed with the quality of work that came out of this class. The puppets and sets were inventive and whimsical. The stories were so creative and many were laugh out loud funny. This was not an easy class but everyone rose to the challenge.

The most striking difference of teaching online versus in person was that I was available to help students 24/7. Students could message the group and their peers could reply or offer words of encouragement. I could answer questions anytime because I had easy access to the virtual classroom on my phone. This way, students didn’t have to wait until the next video chat time if they were feeling stuck or confused. I could also share links to websites, articles, and animations to watch. I felt like, even though we were apart, we were building a community.

Plans for the Future

I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed teaching online. I learned a lot about the process, received feedback from students and parents. Now I’ll go back and edit the lessons and enhance the experience for the Stop Motion Adventure class. Some of the updates will include, adding subtitles, simplifying scripts, and adding more interactive elements so students can engage with each other. I’m also developing a new  2D animation class set to begin this winter.

In the short-term, I invite everyone to attend our Virtual Screening Event on Friday, September 25th, at 5pm to see all of the amazing student films from the summer. I’m so proud of all of my students. The screening will be a time to celebrate their amazing accomplishments. Hope to see you all there!