When faculty and students first transitioned to remote learning in March due to COVID-19, Professor of English and Department Chair Paul Graham ‘99 knew he had to do everything he could to ensure that one elemental object was a presence in his virtual classroom.
“We had to find ways to recreate the conference table on Zoom,” he says.
While mundane and purely functional on its own, a conference table in a creative writing class becomes a forum for students to share their work, give and receive feedback, and hone their unique voices. During the workshop process, it enables free-flowing, open conversation and helps foster a supportive environment wherein students grow as writers.
“For the remote workshops, I assigned small groups a specific question to focus on,” says Graham. “Six students might get to speak about the strengths of the essay or story in question. Six might address some ideas for revision. Anyone else who had something to add could jump in after. Then we’d switch for the next story or essay.”
Graham’s determination to channel the spirit of the conference table in his virtual classroom demonstrates his dedication to the promise of a rich and multi-faceted academic experience for his students—and he’s not alone in this endeavor. Faculty across campus are spending the summer fine tuning their approach to remote learning to ensure a fulfilling classroom experience that upholds St. Lawrence’s tradition of academic excellence.