Working From Home: EvCC Instructors Share Their Experience

Two EvCC instructors share their experiences transitioning from on campus to online.

Without the routine of on-campus life at EvCC, students and instructors alike are finding their footing upon a quickly changing landscape. Online learning can be intimidating, especially for students who haven’t tried before. Instructors are faced with quelling the anxiety of their students, while perhaps lacking experience with online classes themselves. 

Courtesy photo
A social-distancing selfie of Heidi Weiss-Green, a math instructor at EvCC.

“Some of the instructors that I know have never taught online, and two were so scared that they almost didn’t want to teach this quarter,” says EvCC instructor Heidi Wiess-Green. Wiess-Green and other instructors in the math department have regular Zoom meetings to give encouragement and share resources.  

Weiss-Green typically teaches one online class a quarter, though she admits this quarter has been especially hard on her relationship with students. “I don’t feel as connected. I don’t know what I’m doing… I’d never used Zoom before this. In my first class, only one student had their video on, and only one student asked a question,” she says. “It was so awkward.”   

Billy Phillips, an instructor in the English department, is used to observing students in a physical classroom and adjusting plans based on their daily needs. It has been difficult for him to be there for his students the way he wants to be. “I believe that students need a fundamental connection with their instructor,” he says. 

In a virtual setting, “a lot of the students won’t show their video and won’t talk,” he says. “I make use of what I have.” Phillips has been using his students’ writing assignments to get to know them and sense their needs. He goes online to support his students every day.

Helene Martin
Billy Phillips, an EvCC English instructor, in his office at Gray Wolf Hall during Winter Quarter before campus closure.

Phillips wants students to understand that teachers wish to help them. “We don’t always know how to do it,” he says. He knows the state’s COVID-19 regulations have likely caused students to feel isolated and in need – to ask questions, share intellect and connect with peers. He wants to help facilitate relationships between students in any way he can. 

Despite disconnection, students this quarter have surprised Weiss-Green with their work ethic. “A lot of people are working harder and quicker… it seems like they are taking things more seriously,” she says. She hopes that students with social anxiety will benefit from online classes since she’s noticed some students who seemed nervous in a physical classroom setting performing better than before. 

“Do your best to get a routine going early,” Weiss-Green says when asked what advice she’d like to share with students. “Make it fun. The news can be scary, and it’s good to use school as an escape from that. Remember that your education is something that no one can ever take away from you. Keep moving forward.”