For many of us, this semester will be remembered as the semester in which we return to the classroom, after the interlude caused by the COVID alert that forced us to teach our courses using internet-based technologies. I cannot express my joy of being back in a classroom in front of our students. I share with my fellow faculty members the beautiful feeling that is to be in a class in front of your students: the impression that you are helping young people to improve and to grow as students and citizens. It is what impels us to do our work with passion and pleasure. I remember agreeing with several of my colleagues in the last months that something very important in our lives was missing, and that was direct contact with our students.
Thus, returning to class in September was a feeling of happiness to be back. But there are more reasons to be optimistic about what we have experienced in the previous months that simple presence in a classroom.
The first thing is the fact of knowing that we are ready to adapt and respond to difficult situations that might force us to teach from our homes or far from the university classrooms. I have to say that I was impressed by the response of my colleagues at UNYP (I would like to mention the fantastic work done by our IT team here, but also the rest of the academic administration and staff). Being small and flexible is an advantage in this type of situation, and I was proud of and thankful for the support I received from all. That support makes us feel prepared and ready for future challenges.
The second aspect to consider is the learned experience. Although pushed by extremely unfortunate circumstances, these months were an incredible opportunity to innovate, trying things that otherwise we might not have been courageous enough to do. Many of the practices introduced during virtual learning can be used for onsite instruction: exams and assignments to be completed online, asynchronous participation activities, recorded classes at the disposition of the students to study from them and so on. Thus, I feel that we are more effective in our teaching now.
The last thing I would like to mention is the enthusiasm of students about the return to the classroom. At the end of the day, a university is nothing without its students, who are the fuel that produces all the energy that is needed for an educational institution to work as such. Seeing the students as excited as we, the faculty, about the return to class was a great satisfaction. It makes me feel that Fall 2021 will be a great semester, and I will remember it forever: the semester of the return to the classroom!