Toastmasters is a ‘teaching’ organization composed of individuals from myriad backgrounds and professions who choose to enhance their personal communication skills. This is accomplished through the hands-on, learn-by-doing method of teaching.

The Covid 19 pandemic has caused this training to go virtual, (on line) just as it has with most other organizations. We thought it might be interesting to know how the TEACHERS in the local Toastmasters Club have been affected by this transition. Below is an interview with Kris Mapp and Dr. Hasitha Mahabaduge, two teachers who are also Toastmasters.

Kriss Mapp

•What level and subject do you teach? 

Kindergarten and First Grade. I’ve been teaching for 14 years and I have a math endorsement also.

•How has the pandemic affected your method and style of teaching?

It has not been easy! Going virtual created an unexpected challenge to our entire school system at every level. I was required to reevaluate my own methods and create a new platform for my young students to experience while still covering the necessary material. Kindergarten and first graders are typically high energy and short attention spans. It’s been a real growth experience for all of us.

•What benefits do you perceive coming out of the pandemic changes?

It has given students and parents the opportunity to choose their way of learning. Also, in most instances, it has caused parents to be far more involved with their children’s formal education. This benefits the students, parents and teachers.

•Do you perceive any long term negative effects for the students? Teachers?

Yes, emotional effects can be long-term. Teaching/learning involves far more than meets the eye. The classroom becomes a family-type environment where we support each other in learning controlled behavior as well as subject material. This is especially important for the younger students just learning to be away from the core family. Both students and teachers miss the socialization and for some students that will have to be re-learned.

•Do you think we should have hybrid classes as the future norm?

Yes, most definitely. People have different needs at different times. Having an alternative is good.

•What is it that you enjoy the most about teaching?

It is my passion for watching my student's face when the light bulb lights up!

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Dr. Hasitha Mahabaduge

•What level and subjects do you teach?

I teach both introductory and advanced undergraduate level physics, and I have taught for the past 5 years.

•How has the pandemic affected your method and style of teaching?

I consider myself not only as a teacher but also as a "performer". During the pandemic, especially during Spring of 2020, when we started offering courses entirely online, I "lost" my live audience. It was really difficult to make changes to my methods and style of teaching when we moved to online only format. However, last Fall we returned back to in-person classes. Other than wearing a mask (which itself is a challenge for me to speak as well as for my students to hear me) nothing much changed for me since we went back to in-person classes in Fall 2020.

•What benefits do you perceive coming out of the pandemic changes?

As a university professor my primary duty is to teach students and conduct research. One-third of my duties include service to the institution and community. Most of the service includes serving in different committees and online meeting formats (Zoom/WebEx) are more helpful formats and helped a lot with international collaborations. We have seen the same benefit withToastmasters Meetings.

•Do you perceive any long term negative effects for the students? Teachers?

Going to school or college is more than just learning subject matter. During the pandemic students lost the opportunities for human interaction including group work in the classroom and other social activities. If this continues further I believe there will be long term negative effects. Simplest example I can think of is that we may not get a chance to practice empathy. I personally believe traits such as empathy can not be just taught but one needs to practice it.

•Do you think we should have hybrid classes as the future norm?

             It needs to be selective. There are instances that hybrid or for that matter entirely online class format  would work such as for upper level classes where you have a limited number of (say 10 or less) students. But using it for everything would be a mistake.

•What is it that you enjoy the most about teaching?

     Seeing my students achieve great things!

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