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Keene State Professors and Students Connect and Support Each Other Remotely

Dr. Peggy Walsh
Dr. Peggy Walsh

Keene State professors and students are working closely together to finish the spring semester with new approaches to learning and communicating during the COVID-19 outbreak. Supporting our students remains a top priority for staff and faculty. Some examples include:

Dr. Jeff Halford, associate professor of communication and philosophy:

“As I work through these transitions, I keep in mind that our students will remember us for our humanity in all of this, not the content we cover. Likewise, I’ve been reinforcing different versions of the following message, part of a larger email I sent to all my students and advisees last week:

“In times of uncertainty and adversity, character is both tested and revealed. Whether you were ready or not for this historical event, this experience is fertile ground for learning about who you are in this world. Your behaviors in coming days will demonstrate what and who you value, your sense of place and agency in the world, and whether/how you self-initiate and persist when challenged. No matter your responses, you will undoubtedly look back on this as a defining experience in your life…the remainder of the semester is going to prove challenging, no doubt, but it will provide us a chance to test our resilience and creativity as a group. While this changes the way we experience this class, I’m confident we can creatively utilize our collective smarts to pull this off. “

Dr. Peggy Walsh, professor of sociology, anthropology, and criminal justice:

“One positive story I can tell you is from a course I am teaching called Sociology of Families. One of the students gave me permission to share that she is conducting life history interviews with multiple generations in her own family. We have been studying the evolution of families. While looking at differences in her own household, she is exploring how women’s opportunities have expanded, and also what remains mainly unchanged. She has taken the assignment beyond the requirements.

‘My mother and my great grandmother both have vastly different life experiences, but at the same time, I do see similarities. I wanted to focus on questions that are about how they grew up, the kind of environment they grew up in, about their siblings, their parents, what types of chores they had to do, if they moved around a lot or stayed put, and other questions along those lines.’

It is fascinating to hear how students are applying the articles that they are reading for class, and using the time with their own families so well.”

Dr. Taneem Husain, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies:

“Students have appreciated the spaces I’ve opened up for them to vent about the difficulties they are facing. They’ve appreciated the bad jokes I’ve made in my Zoom lectures. I assumed students would want to do everything asynchronously, but when I polled students, around 75% of them were excited for our half hour weekly check-ins.”

Students are overwhelmed by the difference in online learning. What I’ve tried to do in response is set up a structured, flexible space that provides students a helpful, productive way to stop thinking about the coronavirus, to think about their futures beyond these next few weeks or months, or to think about what’s happening in the world more critically.”

Dr. Nick Germana, professor of history:

“I have been using Zoom to meet with classes during our regular class time and the experience has been positive. Yesterday, I met with my senior seminar via Zoom at our usual time. In the beginning, students interacted as they normally do before class. It was a nice experience of relative normalcy. I think it was a really nice opportunity for students to see familiar faces, to see and hear how their friends are doing, and to comfort each other in difficult times. After about 10 minutes of catching up, one of the students led the discussion, just as he normally would if we were together. The class went very well. I could see and hear that they were very happy to be back in a familiar situation, among friends, engaging in the kind of work they enjoy. These are all seniors, and three graduate students, who are understandably saddened by the fact that their time in college is ending like this, but they are also clearly happy to have a way to finish this capstone course in their major among their friends.”

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