Maha found that moving the chairs around and having a class of 20 sit in a circle manages to maintain the same distance of around 1 to 1.5 meters (around two floor tiles between chairs) and actually allows more distancing. This way, students only have one student on each side, and no one in front of or behind them. Furthermore, this arrangement allows everyone to be facing each other and makes it easier for the professor to walk a little bit closer to listen to someone whose voice is too low, without getting close to others. It also makes movement easier if you want to do some small group work or pair work.
9. Give breaks or do outdoor activities if needed.
Maha surveyed students on their comfort working outdoors, and most were willing to do that if the weather outside was good. This may be useful for pair or group activities to ensure safe distancing and reduce noise inside the class.
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Maha also noticed that students seemed more tired than usual after 40 or so minutes of class, so she asked if they would like to take a five-minute break to get outside, take off their masks and take a deep breath before coming back, and students were relieved to get this opportunity. She tried it and it really made a difference for the energy of the class for the last half hour.
10. Prevent your glasses from fogging up.
Many faculty members worry about glasses fogging up, blurring, and not being able to see and adding this extra task of cleaning off your glasses every two to five minutes. There are some simple DIY fixes to prevent glass fog. Simply washing your glasses with soap and water (as described here) or trying some of these options might help prevent this irritating side effect of mask wearing.
What about you? Share your experience!
Now that you’ve been teaching in-person with masks for a few days, please share your experience with us in the comments!
Maha Bali is an associate professor of practice in the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo. She is a co-founder of virtuallyconnecting.org and a co-facilitator of Equity Unbound. Readers can follow her on Twitter at @bali_maha.
Gwyneth Talley is an assistant professor of anthropology at the American University in Cairo. She is a visual and cultural anthropologist who focuses on the intersections of gender, kinship, sport/leisure, and human/animal relationships in the Middle East and North Africa. Readers can follow her on Twitter at @wanderingwyneth.