Teaching blindfolded

I'm in the dark, feeling cold. Super cold. I know that I have to go on, but there are days when I can hardly move a muscle. I'm doing my best to teach through the screen and not to the screen (Morris 2020). I want to see and "feel" my students as human beings who are probably struggling with isolation and loneliness as much as I do. I am super grateful for the enlightening moments on Zoom when students add comments to the chat, share a thumb up, or, only for a few seconds, switch on their mics and/or cameras. 

Teaching is strongly built on decoding: we constantly read the verbal and non-verbal signals that our students make, consciously or not, in the classroom. That is how we make instant adjustments in the lesson plan, review a task if needed, clarify the instructions, give more explanation. Good teaching never follows the lesson plan rigidly. It is rather like a pedagogy of the moment, a process of adjusting and re-adjusting, which tends to happen invisibly, in our minds during the lesson. 

But now, teaching online, I lost most of these signals. Sure, I can run a poll any time during Zoom to check for understanding, I can open up a padlet for comments, or I can invite students in many other ways to reveal how they are managing with all the input that they get from my lecture. Still, this is not the same as being physically present in the room, where smiles, head nods, or frowned eyebrows help me a lot. They are important signals that I've learned to read during the 21 years of my teaching career, as part of pedagogical literacy (if there is such a thing at all). 

I'm teaching blindfolded now, imagining a group of students behind the black boxes that I am facing on my screen. I don't know if they find my jokes funny or not, whether they like to see my cats playing behind my back, or, what's more important, whether they are "with me" when I'm discussing a topic. Are they engaged? Do they find it interesting? Would they like to know more? Do they see me as very clumsy? (Oh, God, I make so many mistakes when I concentrate both on content and technology!) 

I'm aware that I can ask for feedback at any time during the course. But it's different from the natural decoding process of the here&now. All I can do is to continue teaching in the dark, blindfolded but also filled with hope that what I am doing is good and relevant for the students. There is no other way to go.


Morris, Sean Michael (2020). Teaching through the screen and the necessity of imagination literacy. OEB plenary talk. https://www.seanmichaelmorris.com/teaching-through-the-screen-and-the-necessity-of-imagination-literacy/ 


Unsplash, Paolo Nicolello https://unsplash.com/photos/XZ5RUsJGyz4 


  1. So true! I've just listened to your conference presentation, thank you for sharing this link with conference participants and thank you sharing your thoughts and feelings in this blog. This is exactly how I feel these days while teaching all alone sitting in my office. And it's good to know that I 'm not alone in this respect.


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