Distance Learning: Creating Connections

By Candace Kodani ’92 Cheever, Academy English teacher  

I teach English 1, both Poetry/Drama and Novel/Short Story, and my goal for our distance learning is to maintain and nurture the connections I developed during the first half of the semester. I will continue to work individually with the students, facilitate their work with each other, foster their understanding of texts and help them to see the broader applications for the study of literature. Along with ensuring my connection to the students remains strong, it is equally important for them to continue collaborating with each other; therefore, they will meet online in small discussion groups, maintaining an exceptional learning community of individuals who contribute thoughtful insights, authentic curiosity, and genuine good will. This work they do together in groups is one of the most powerful drivers of their learning.

This moment in time presents challenges, but also an opportunity to transfer learning to the real world through activities like one I titled, “The Gift of a Poem.” This assignment asks the students to identify someone who might be feeling isolated and who could benefit from a human connection; select a poem to share; and recite it to the person, an exercise in public speaking and empathy. I hope to encourage their understanding of the power of literature and their own capacity to make a positive impact on others, even from a distance.

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