July 13, 2021

In their own words: Faculty members talk about the return to in-person instruction

Excitement, connection, empathy and flexibility: those are some of the themes faculty members touched on when we asked them about the return to in-person instruction.

This past year, we spoke to faculty members from many disciplines about their experiences with remote instruction. Now that the university is preparing for a return to (mostly) in-person instruction in September 2021, we have compiled their comments about the return to SFU campuses.

What are you looking forward to as you prepare to return to the classroom?

Nicky Didicher (university lecturer, English) – “The energy that comes from a group of people in the same room who are all thinking about and excited by the same topic.”

Kevin Lam (senior lecturer, biological sciences) – “It’ll be great to see my students and colleagues in person again. These are connections and joys that I’ve sorely missed.”

Brent Ward (professor, earth sciences) – “I’m a pretty interactive kind of instructor. I don’t just pound through the PowerPoint—I give little anecdotes, I ask questions,  and when I can see everybody I can start [connecting]. So I’m looking forward to that.”

James MacEachern (professor, earth sciences) – “I really can’t wait to get back to pre-pandemic instruction of both lectures and labs […] In-person labs are, in my opinion, essential for achieving the educational goals that have been set for my courses.”

Peter Hollmann (senior lecturer, biological sciences; taught in-person labs during the pandemic) – “What a pleasure to work with people instead of screens and to have those personal interactions.”

Simon Watkins (professor, physics; taught in-person labs during the pandemic) – “I’m really enjoying being back in the building.”

What have you learned this past year that you will carry with you?

Stephanie Vlachos (lecturer, molecular biology and biochemistry) – “One lesson that I’ve learned from this is that less is more for students […] Let’s take a step back and see how we’re offering our courses and see how we can actually engage students better and not try to hit them with so many things at the same time.”

Marla Eist (associate professor, dance) – “You realize that there can’t just always be one way of doing things, and you have to have a lot more compassion and empathy for one another than we practiced before—and that’s a good thing.”

Miranda Meents (lecturer, biological sciences) – “I think this whole thing has caused everyone to re-evaluate: Is it really important that we teach them this thing, is this really the only way that we can teach it? [I recommend] taking that approach and not just going back to the way things were before.”

Steven Hill (associate professor, theatre performance) – “Prepare for improvising or at least have more than one approach up your sleeve.”

Byron Gates (professor, chemistry) – “We’re developing young minds and we need to make sure that they’re appropriately comfortable and appropriately being developed, so it’s [about giving ourselves] permission to say ‘Maybe you don’t have to do everything that you did before’ [and] reflect on what are those key parts.”