As students make their way into the dance studio, physical education teacher Beth Figaro-Brandt reminds students to find a spot on the dance floor at a social distance. Half her students during block one on gold day come for in-person learning, while the other half sign in on zoom for e-learning.
Like a traditional dance class, Figaro-Brandt starts with a warm up of stretching.
“When we are doing our warmup they can face me. I make sure to spotlight so they can see me,” Figaro-Brandt said.
Figaro-Brant’s computer is placed on a chair in the front of the studio in the center so students in-person and online can follow along.
“What I do in my class is I just try to do everyone the same. So, I make sure they can hear me, make sure they can see me [and] make sure these guys can see me. Sometimes I’ll put them up and project so we have a class. I try to get them to unmute at least one time during class to have some engagement,” Figaro-Brandt said.
Sophomore students Ellory Fishman said she has taken dance classes outside of school and this feels no different.
“I feel like there is no disconnect. I feel like when we are having a conversation in class, the people online are also participating cause they are just set up on the corner, so they can still hear. So it feels the most normal it can,” Fishman said.
Once the students have warmed up Figaro-Brandt moves on to reviewing choreography on a current dance number the students are working on.
“I have to use my computer, like my camera angles so I take my camera to the back to teach something so they can see me in the mirror and then they can follow along,” Figaro-Brandt said.
No student skips a beat, dancing the choreography to the music both in-person and remote.
Glenbrook North senior Shannon Clinkunbroomer said, “She’s always switching off making sure she’s giving the same amount of attention to both.”
Figaro-Brandt said one of the biggest challenges is making sure everyone understands the dance moves.
“Teaching dance specifically on a camera is a little bit hard remotely. Just making sure that they can see me and my right is their right. If I’m facing them I have to mirror them so. And going slow and making sure everyone can do it no matter what space they are in,” Figaro-Brandt said.
Figaro-Brandt said she just wants to make sure all her students get the same class experience regardless of their learning environment.