Back to the Classroom: Lessons in Returning to In-Person Learning

Photo taken from: Big Stock Photo

When we went back to class in March, my students appeared larger than life. More human, tangible. Lots of smiles, welcoming faces, laughter, and excitement. They had a willingness to learn and interact with each other, as well as with the teacher. 

I was curious to see how teaching would function in a “post-COVID-19” period. I was happy to see them in class. 

I developed a learn-as-you-go approach. I didn’t know who would attend on a day-to-day basis and hoped more students of various backgrounds would join. 

Things ran quickly. I was able to check their work, make suggestions to students one-on-one, and challenge them. I adjusted my lesson plan according to proven abilities and interests that came up readily in class in response to lessons, practice, or video. 

I gave them plenty of opportunities to write on the whiteboard. They brainstormed vocabulary, constructed sentences, practiced their speech, described videos, translated, anticipated, and had fun. They took on the role of teachers. For example, they wrote on the whiteboard, shared information from their lives, taught each other vocabulary from their languages, and asked others questions to help them engage with the subject matter, practice English more readily, and relate to others. 

They used phones to translate and share pictures and videos. I was proud to see them use technology in the classroom, especially the mature students, as it was helpful to practice for real-world contexts. 

Students socialized well with members of other cultural groups and developed a better understanding of Canadian society. Hopefully, they walked away with twice as much learning as online. 

I still taught an evening online class. Those students enjoyed taking a class after work that was short and accessible. It gave them an opportunity to interact with others and practice their speaking. They could also have fun online with their families running in the background, in a non-demanding context. 

I was proud of my students’ creativity. This made them better, more motivated learners, ready to share their experiences, and take on life in modern Canadian society. 

I loved their dedication, enthusiasm, and kindness. They improved tremendously and progressed readily. I am looking forward to seeing them in September and continuing my teaching journey. 

How has your return to in-person teaching been? 

My name is Svjetlana Vrbanic—Lana—and I am a newly certified adult ESL teacher. I completed a degree in English and worked as a teacher and newspaper reporter/editor. Work has allowed me to travel from Labrador to Alberta and enjoy many great experiences. I was born in the former-Yugoslavia, but lived in Toronto most of my life. I can speak Serbo-Croatian, but primarily use English and love sharing what I know with students from all over the world. I like to have a good time and enjoy pursuing interests like cooking, running, volunteering, learning about health and psychology, and spending time with my niece, two rambunctious Jack Russell terriers, and a shy, but loveable cat. I am excited to blog about my experiences which will hopefully inform and entertain, as well as help support a vibrant teaching community. Wishing my colleagues many happy adventures in teaching.

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