Fine Arts programs adapt to online learning

Alysse Ellerbrook, Reporter

In March of last year, teachers and students’ lives were completely turned upside down when a pandemic spread across the world and all schools were forced to be transferred online, changing the way teachers taught and the way students learned. 

Teachers who loved to bond and interact with their students now have to teach over a screen and are limited to activities they could be doing in class. 

“The biggest challenge I have faced is getting to know my students,” art teacher Anne Nagim said. “Usually, I know everyone’s name by the first week of school. Plus talking to someone you never met in person is very distant and cold.”       

Art, choir, and theatre are all classes that require a lot of human interaction, so online school can be difficult to get the same results as you would in the classroom.

“It is harder to explain things and harder for students to interact,” Nagim said. “I feel sometimes if I could just talk to the students in person, I could see if they were understanding their assignments.” 

Technology is also very important when doing online school and that can come with many challenges. 

“I am not great at computer technology,” theatre teacher Kelly Groves said. “I feel like I’ve had to re-learn how to teach and to communicate effectively. Plus, my internet always seems to be acting up, making Zoom classes even more frustrating.”  

Fine arts teachers have had to find solutions to continue and efficiently run classes that require interactive activities. 

“Choir has been singing,” choir teacher Kay Owens said. “Before you get excited about this, let me tell you how it is done. The director sings and plays the music while the students are singing online with their sound muted. So the director cannot hear the students. We see their mouths moving, but it is a delayed reaction. It is a challenge for sure. The students have assignments to do which involve submitting and recording to us and basic theory work as it pertains to singing.”  

Online school can have a few benefits by allowing assignments to have clear instructions on how to complete them. 

“For the first time my class assignments are clearly laid out in Canvas for easy reference which I think makes things easier on my students,” Groves said. “I’m learning to be more creative with media and visuals.”    

Fine arts teachers said they miss having interactions with their students and having a classroom be a whole. 

“This has been pretty hard on me,” Groves said. “I’m an extrovert. I miss my students. I miss creating. I teach theatre, which at its core is about human interaction. Staring at a computer screen all day is the opposite of that.”