Returning volunteer teachers compare their online and in-person teaching experiences
By Astra Tulac
Back in the summer of 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and following the lockdown of many schools and businesses, the STEAM Team had it's first ever online program. Activities were led via live, virtual instruction and ranged from Play-doh cell models, candy DNA models, balloon cars, DIY guitars (made from rubber bands and cardboard), and more! Amidst a global pandemic, students were able to engage with interactive and meaningful STEAM activities during the summertime from the safety of their home
By summer of 2021, following the uplift of COVID-19 restrictions, STEAM Team hosted their first ever in-person Summer Program during two weeks in June. The program consisted of daily, half-day sessions with in-person lessons and activities, guest presentations, and outdoor play time.
Several of our teachers were able to join us for both the virtual and in-person summer programs of 2020 and 2021. Below are their comparisons between the two.
Pedram Bayat described feeling excited upon hearing for the first time that STEAM Team would be holding an in-person Summer program. Bayat said that compared to the online program, the in-person program made "the communication between the teachers and students [a] lot easier."
"[With the in-person program], students [interacted] and made friends with one another and were generally more excited to be there," Bayat added. In the future, Pedram says he would like to see the in-person programs continue for as long as possible, if COVID-19 restrictions permit.
Agreeing with Bayat, returner teacher Maya Narang notes that in-person workshops "have much more interaction", which was especially helpful with elementary school students learning complex STEM topics.
"...Being there in person to comfort them and help explain topics along the way is really helpful," Narang said. According to Narang, although the online program allowed STEAM Team to expand their reach to students outside the area, she ultimately prefers the in-person programs for the improved learning quality as well as "friendships and interaction with other people" and smoother workshops.
Ultimately, both our returner teachers emphasized the benefit of increased interactions and collaboration in-person programs offer. If COVID-19 permits in the following months, STEAM Team plans to continue hosting such programs, judging from the overall consensus of both teachers and students themselves.
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