Students in Andrea Rodas’ Spanish II classes have an added dimension to their distance learning experience this spring — Andrea is teaching the classes from her family’s residence in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Andrea traveled to Ecuador during March break to attend a family celebration and was unable to return to Connecticut as Ecuador placed swift and strict limitations on movement due to the COVID-19 outbreak — including a curfew that extended from 2 p.m. until 5 a.m. every day. Thus, while all Loomis Chaffee students and teachers are engaged in distance learning for the spring term because of the pandemic, Andrea is teaching from perhaps the most far-flung locale of all the Loomis Chaffee faculty.
Before the start of the term on Thursday, March 26, Andrea said she was a little worried about her students’ ability to connect from scattered locations around the globe, and she had some doubts about how to adjust her classroom teaching style for distance learning. But after just two days of teaching, Andrea was pleased that her students were able to connect and engage, and that many of the tools she used for classroom learning translate well to the online format.
“The students’ commitment is inspiring to see,” Andrea said.
While she is disappointed that she can’t take advantage of her location by showing her students the sights of Guayaquil on Ecuador’s southwest coast, Andrea plans to enlist her bilingual family members in some level-appropriate conversations with her students. Additional interactive lesson plans include taking students on a virtual tour of her home for an “about the house” vocabulary lesson, among others. Andrea and her class also were pleased to find they could still conduct fun learning quizzes on the Kahoot platform as they had in her Founders Hall classroom.
“I’m trying to keep things as normal as possible,” Andrea said.
Andrea is in her second year of teaching at Loomis Chaffee as a student in the University of Pennsylvania’s Independent School Teaching Residency master's program. She feels confident her students will have a solid experience finishing out their year of language learning connected to each other across the world and to her in Ecuador.