Editor’s Note: It's been almost a year since Cardinal Gibbons transitioned to distance and hybrid learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. In that time the obstacles have been formidable. But in true Gibbons spirit, our school community faced the challenge head-on and through ingenuity, perseverance, and courage has re-imagined the way teaching and learning takes place during these unprecedented times. We asked educators about their experience since last March. Each day for the next several days we will share one educator’s experience with you in this new series, Lessons Learned. We start the series with Dance Educator Erica Seninsky, pictured above.
Q: Looking back, how have you grown as an educator?
A: After one year in this very different teaching environment, I have become so much more resilient and flexible in my teaching. I have come up with many new strategies of providing quality dance instruction within the hybrid model and creative ways for my students to connect with one another through Zoom. I have grown in my ability to take situations as they come and adapt when necessary for the benefit of my students.
Q: What new teaching strategies do you use now that you didn't know or use last spring?
A: One of my favorite new instructional tools is Edpuzzle. My students recently had the opportunity to view Revelations performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Using Edpuzzle, they were able to experience the historical work that embodies the African American experience and connect with each section through a written response. Through Edpuzzle, I was able to guide students through the work and create meaningful prompts for reflection along the way.
Another effective strategy I have used is collaboration between my students and our “sister” classes through Zoom breakout rooms. During this time of mask-wearing and hybrid learning, connection between students can be challenging, but still very needed. I will often have my students collaborate in Zoom breakout rooms as they learn choreography, create movement phrases, or rehearse dances. Fellow dance educator Nikki Wadia and I recently hosted our first “Sister Day” which was incredibly successful. My Dance 5 class prepared wonderful experiences for Dance 2 – prayer, get-to-know-you games, movement combinations, and advice for the future. This was such a beautiful moment of connection that we were able to accomplish together through Zoom.
Q: What are you most proud of that you have accomplished, learned, or adapted to?
A: Our biggest accomplishment this year was holding our Winter Dance Concert on January 16th. From the beginning of this school year, I told my students that my goal was to get them on the stage again. I know how disappointed our dance students were when our campus closed in March of 2020; we could not show the incredible work they had put into their dances last spring. To see the students dancing on stage for the first time since the fall of 2019 was truly an emotional experience for all. The students were so grateful to have the opportunity to present their beautiful dances with the magic of lighting, costumes, sound, and the theater. We were able to create a professional, organized, and safe experience for all students. The amount of work put into this experience was extraordinary; so many educators and students came together to put together this “small miracle” (in the words of Assistant Principal for Engagement Mike Rogosich). To see the students’ smiling eyes as they left the theater was worth everything.
Q: What skills and/or strategies will you continue to use when we are not in hybrid/distance learning that will improve teaching and learning in your courses?
A: When we are not in a hybrid/distance learning model, I will absolutely continue to use Edpuzzle. I can see this tool being used to teach about prominent historical figures and works in dance history. The tool also provides a way for me to teach my choreography through video instruction.