Teaching with a mask on to students wearing masks is just downright weird. I can't hear students through their masks; I can't pronounce some words through my mask; and sometimes I look out at the class and see students with masks, sunglasses, and hats, and I have no idea who they are!
In my long (some would say overly long) career, I've had some challenging environments to teach in, though, so I think I can handle this new one!
Back in the 90s, I was once asked to teach a network troubleshooting class to the night shift at Visa (the credit card company). They wanted me to teach the IT help desk every night from midnight to 3 am. I asked them if this was really a good idea. They assured me it was. The first night went pretty well. The second night, at about 1 am, I looked out at the class, and every single student was sound asleep.
And then there was the time IBM asked me to teach a one-week Token Ring and Ethernet troubleshooting class. I asked them, "are you sure this is a good idea? Didn't you guys invent Token Ring?" They assured me it was a good idea.
Sure enough, I arrived in lovely Fishkill, New York and went over the schedule with them (again), and they said "oh, we don't need the Token Ring day. Why don't you take Tuesday off and go sight-seeing." So I got paid to sight-see in lovely Fishkill. Granted, I did see some cool things. I visited FDR's home in Hyde Park, the Culinary Institute of America, Vassar College, etc.
|"Main Street in Fishkill." Photo by Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons|
US House of Representatives Training
Once I taught a class to the network engineers for the US House of Representatives. They forgot to book a training room. Your government at work, I guess. :-) They said, "no problem, we'll do it in the lab." They failed to tell me, however, that the lab was also where the line printers were. I taught the entire class as these huge, loud line printers printed multiple copies of some 500-page bill that the Representatives were working on.
Macintosh Software Development Training
And one more story: Early in my career, I taught a one-week Macintosh software development class at a resort in Mexico with a colleague. We said the class would start at 8:30 am. Not a single student showed up at 8:30 am. Finally, about 9:15 am the students started wandering in, looking bleary, drinking their coffee and smoking cigarettes. Around 1 pm they said it was siesta time and that we should start up again at 4 pm.
I looked at my fellow instructor and saw that he was worried too. There was no way we could cover all the material with this schedule. But then the students assured us that they would work till 8 pm. And sure enough, they worked really hard from 4 pm till 8 pm. After that the evening was dedicated to eating, drinking "rum y cokes" and other adult beverages, and playing cards till 1 am. We instructors adapted quickly to this new fun schedule!
I Love You, IT Departments
Oops, one more story. I can't forget the time I was teaching a county IT department on May 5th, 2000, when the ILOVEYOUVIRUS broke out. One by one my students' beepers started going off and they left the room, looking panicked. Soon there was nobody left!
Then one student came back in and said, "We better cancel class." Luckily it was the last day of class, a Friday afternoon of a 5-day class. The student added, "Would you like to help us troubleshoot? We've been hit by a massive virus!" The ILOVEYOU virus remains one of the farthest reaching ever. Tens of millions of computers around the world were affected. CNN had a good article about it 20 years after it struck.
I Don't Love You, Covid!
So anyway, the show must go on, of course. But teaching with a mask? That is just weird. In fact, it's one of the weirdest experiences I've had in my long teaching career. Here's what I have to say to Covid: