Mr. Singer: A quarantine Q&A

Charlie Adams, Opinion Editor

father and child in a mirror
Mr. Singer poses with his daughter, who has made an appearance in his online classes. (Photo courtesy of Joshua Singer)

Students are not alone in undergoing changes associated with new online teaching and quarantine. Teachers are also having to adapt and get creative when it comes to organizing class and supporting their students. Here’s history and TOK teacher Mr. Singer’s take on quarantine life:

Holding both the titles of father and instructor, do you ever wonder whether your kid is plotting something embarrassing for while you’re on camera?

Plotting gives her a lot of credit, but she definitely wants my attention when I’m on camera. My block 6 witnessed that our first day when she screamed “Dada, I have a question” for 10 minutes straight.

How many of your students do you think are actually on the call versus the amount who log on? 

100%… just kidding.  Of the students who are logging on I’d say about 25-30% are actually “on the call,” about 50-60% are close enough to their laptop during class that they can answer a poll, and the remaining 10-20% log on and either walk far far away or log off mid-class.

What do you miss most about in-person teaching?

I miss the casual conversations that are about school, but not really about school, that in-person teaching allows for.  In a 30 min block, with no hallway to harass the passersby in, it’s harder to connect to students and staff alike.

How do you think distance learning will affect your teaching methods when you return next year?

Regardless of how we return next year, I’m learning something new every week.  Distance learning has helped me prioritize what content and concepts are critical for students to be successful.  It has also exposed me to different ways I can structure class to allow students to show their engagement.

What are some ways you have been passing the time? Do you have any recommendations for students?

I started the closure with a pretty good reading and exercise routine that I’m working on getting back to.  My reality is that taking care of my almost 4-year-old daughter (birthday is 5/5) makes the time pass both very quickly and very slowly seemingly simultaneously.  Today we pretended to be Dora and used a paper-towel map to find some treasure, yesterday we blew up a donated bounce house and jumped around to T-Swift.  

My recommendation, take everything one day at a time and focus on healthy habits when you have the energy!

Do you have any philosophical wisdom to offer your students about the current COVID crisis?

Not sure that it is wisdom, it may be more cliche, but to choose your attitude and count your blessings.  This is a tough and strange time for sure, but what makes it so interesting is that it is an almost universal experience.  Cherish the things you have gained over mourning the things you have lost.