When Electives Come Down With COVID


Chase Olson and Nicole Service

For a year, the elective classrooms of Terra Linda have been collecting dust: the stage untouched, the paintbrushes in the art room dry, no students filling up the auditorium with music. This past year of remote learning has really changed the art electives and our appreciation for them. However, as of March, students and teachers were able to come back. Now that electives are back in person there are no more at-home pottery projects or at-home performances in drama. As we slowly transition back into a normal classroom environment with desks three feet apart and masks on, we are observing the return of electives in full. 


Hands-on experience has been an integral part of many electives, especially art-centric electives. “My teaching style…historically relies on more one on one communication and less whole group instruction. Zoom changes all that…I cannot see what students are doing as they are doing it,” stated Ceramics teacher Mrs. Galbreath. Ceramics 1 students are taught how to recognize when clay is too wet or too dry, how to work air bubbles out of clay, and many other basic skills needed to properly work with clay. Walking around the classroom and monitoring each student as they work with their clay is something that is not possible over Zoom. Mrs. Galbreath articulated, “The camera only shows so much. It is difficult to access a 3 dimensional object from a 2 dimensional platform.”


Music electives have also been impacted. Mr. Thomson, a music teacher at TL, stated, “We can’t play together… That’s a huge aspect of my job; the ability to teach ensemble playing, how to play with other people, and how to listen to other people while you play and keep the ensemble sounding cohesive…I just don’t get to do that.” All musicians have faced this struggle over the past year; playing music over Zoom or another platform like Zoom doesn’t work that well. The sound quality is okay when people talk, but when complex harmonies are played on a number of different instruments, the end result is not at all close to what it should sound like. This makes it extremely hard to play music together, and when the delay and varying Wi-Fi connectivity is factored in, playing music together is almost impossible. Mr. Thomson clarified, “We don’t just play music because we like making art, we play music because we like making art collaboratively.”


Before COVID hit last March, the drama program put on a spectacular performance of “The Addams Family.” However, this past year the drama program and drama classes haven’t been able to put on any in person performances. Senior, Olivia Hoover, explains, “we used to be able to get to know each other in person and make connections every single day, but now online is a lot harder to make connections.” We see in a lot of online classes that they lack the social aspect we used to see in person. In drama classes we need a social aspect because a cast is like a team. 


As the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close, we are slowly putting an end to online learning as we see more and more students return to in person learning. We hope that in the future, TL can return fully in person at some point. The ceramics room will soon be filled with students making pottery, the auditorium with music students playing their instruments, and the theatre with the actors of TL putting on wonderful performances for our community.