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In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the St. Mary’s University community has adapted — faculty stepping up to deliver quality education to students from a distance.

Terri Boggess, Ph.D., in a studio.

Terri Boggess, Ph.D., Chair and Associate Professor of Exercise and Sport Science, shared takeaways from her spring classes in a Q&A. Boggess recently completed her 30th year teaching at St. Mary’s, specializing in wellness, sports ethics and embodied spirituality. In Spring 2020, she taught Wholistic Wellness, Ethics in Sport and Yoga for All. 

Q: What was your approach in switching to online learning in a short period of time?

A: Haha! Well, I am not sure there was any real approach other than attending a workshop on how to teach with Zoom (a cloud-based videoconferencing platform). My teaching is all face-to-face interaction with students in class, so I knew Zoom would be the only way I could transition to complete the semester. The person who ran the Zoom workshop has been so helpful and supportive (code for patient), so I have done well enough for the moment.

Q: What are some new teaching methods you’ve picked up along the way?

A: Zoom was new to me and I was given very good advice to just get this semester done as best I can and not try to do anything too crazy! 

Q: What has been your biggest area or opportunity for growth in teaching online thus far?

A: It has been very interesting to see how my students at home react to being in class, too. Here are some of the behaviors we have had to alter: 

a. I want to see your face, and I want you all to see each other, so you all need to unblock the video! 

b. Put a shirt on for class, please.

c. I know you will need to sit on your bed, but please do not be under the covers.

d. Please try to have your breakfast made (after watching things being cut up with a large knife) and eaten before our 11:10 a.m. or 12:35 p.m. class.

I also have had to learn about the family dynamics that are part of this process. Students have told me that their family members don’t really recognize that they are “in class,” so they keep asking them to do things in the house during class.  

I’ve seen the students become more listless as time has gone on, so I know they are suffering from Zoom and quarantine fatigue. 

Q: What has been most surprising?

A: When I think of the disruption for our students, especially those who graduated and those who were in the last season of their career as an athlete, I am truly amazed at how well they have taken all of this. They have handled it with such grace that I am truly humbled at their maturity and goodness.

Q: What has been the most beneficial experience of teaching online?

A: For me, being “forced” into a new mode of teaching has been very educational and I am now looking forward to learning more as I have signed up for training in July to get credentialed to teach online.   

Q: Students look to you for guidance, for wisdom, especially during times of crisis. How have you managed your own challenges and anxieties in quarantine?

A: I have had a number of one-on-one Zoom meetings with students and have received emails seeking advice and help. Knowing that we have worked through the troubling issues together gives me peace as I know my students are better. For myself, I have worked out more on my treadclimber, enjoyed being outdoors when the weather permits, played with my 4-year-old granddaughter as we looked for lightning bugs in the evenings and done more yoga and meditation to keep me healthy, grounded. 

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