Students Groups Working Together
Group work in the classroom.

At this point, we’re all used to doing things a little differently – meaning, almost entirely virtually and completely online. However, just because we’ve finally adapted to this “new normal” doesn’t mean we love it or find it better than when everything was in-person.

With another semester of unknowns, virtual classes, and, some SMUflex, online and in-person classes on the horizon, maybe it’s time to reminisce a little about what we miss about in-person classes. We took so much of our class experiences for granted, so it’s bittersweet not to be fully in-person yet.

Here are some personal thoughts from your professors and students. We would love to hear what you miss most about in-person classes. Leave a comment.

Sandy in large class
Dr. Duhé speaks at an all majors meeting.

Dr. Sandra Duhé

I miss the hugs, the stories, and the shared triumphs in and out of the classroom. I’m really proud of our faculty and students for getting through a strange and challenging spring semester. We’ve demonstrated just how much we can accomplish virtually, but I miss being in the presence of our CCPA family. Definitely looking forward to the fall!

Dr. LaShonda Eaddy

I miss interacting with my students face to face the most. It was harder to connect with students who I was teaching for the first time in the online setting. My upper-level class seemed more like usual, but those students had taken at least one other class with me face-to-face. Overall, I think we’ve all made the best of this time of uncertainty.

Dr. Pui Kelly

What I miss the most about in-person classes are the real-time interactions with the students, class discussions, and activities. In a face-to-face class, students can always stop me and ask questions and I have rich nonverbal cues that tell me when I need to explain a concept further or move on to a new topic. This helps ensure that students are really understanding the material. This can also be done via Zoom; but technical problems (e.g., low internet connection, poor camera, poor audio, etc.) can occur and make it difficult for students to ask questions or for me to read nonverbal cues. I also miss that “human connection” and the opportunity to get to know students at a more personal level by being with them in the same physical space.

On the positive side, online courses allow students to study at their own pace. Also, online discussions allow students to hear all “voices” in the classroom. In a face-to-face class, outgoing students oftentimes dominate conversations and introvert students are shy to share. My spring students said they benefited a lot from the online discussions because everyone was able to contribute ideas (compared to before the classes were shifted online) and they got to know their classmates better through those discussions. 

Professor Rosanne Hart

Hanging out in Umph before class.

What do I miss about teaching in the classroom versus online? I truly miss the interaction and energy that a classroom setting provides. I’ve found that it’s more difficult to generate spontaneous student engagement over Zoom, because of the way Zoom is set up. One speaker at a time–whereas in class you often have students jumping in to add comments. I also miss very much seeing my students in person and their “real” smiles!

Professor Steve Lee, APR

Bear loves being in the center of studentsI miss the “aha!” moments. A student would ask a question and, without revealing the answer outright we would talk about it. Then a twinkle in their eye, or a slight smile on their face, and we both knew that they got it. So cool. I also miss the “explosions” when we hit a topic in class on which everyone had an opinion. A loud opinion. The energy in the room was electric.

Abba Yaney, CCPA Fellow, Summer 2020

I miss the little moments from in-person classes the most. Until we moved online, I never realized how many small interactions and conversations occurred in class. Whether it was chatting in the halls of Umph before class, little moments in class, or talking as we leave class. I miss those small interactions with my peers and professors. I miss how sometimes classes would spontaneously change because we would all get caught up on wanting to learn more about a topic. Although it may not have been in that day’s plan, I always loved it when our class became so passionate about a topic that we would spend the whole time discussing it.

Avery Cooper, CCPA Fellow, Summer and Fall 2020

What do I miss about in-person classes? Where do I even begin? There was a sort of poetic, exciting, organized chaos to in-person classes. Our old normal – which I miss dearly – seems like forever ago. I miss getting to every class at least ten minutes early and chatting with my professors or getting caught up on emails; passing my friends in the hallways of Umphrey Lee and waving at my sorority sisters I saw across Dallas Hall Lawn, usually with a coffee in hand from the Fondren Starbucks; and getting off-topic in class with my friends I’ve been in CCPA classes with for years. We’d usually ramble on about celebrity drama, changes to Boulevard season, the infamous lack of parking on campus, or how badly we need 20 shots of espresso or a week-long hibernation.

In-person classes made me feel a part of my community – like we were all in it together, whereas virtual classes feel so lonely. The college experience is about a lot more than crossing degree requirements off your list; it’s about walking around campus in 100-degree weather, waiting in line for coffee and wondering if you’ll make it to class on time, nearly falling asleep on the benches outside your classroom and seeing dozens of smiling faces throughout the day.

My college experience has completely changed since COVID, but knowing how great everything was before COVID gives me hope and excites me for what’s in store this upcoming semester. I can’t wait to be back on campus as much as (safely) possible come August. I’ll never complain about finding parking or trekking across campus every again! Actually, that’s a little unlikely, but I’m definitely not dreading these things about much as I might’ve used to!

Caroline Kester, CCPA Fellow, Fall 2020

I will miss The classroom environment most! Being in that setting is so much more conducive to learning! It is so much easier to focus in class rather than zoom! I will also miss my CCPA professors and classmates! It can be so much harder to work on a subject you don’t quite understand via email and will miss in-person help from teachers.

Charlotte Friend, CCPA Fellow, Fall 2020

Let’s be honest- virtual learning can’t hold a candle to the in-person class experience. Being a part of the CCPA family is so special and I have cherished every minute of my experience. As I look forward to this new semester, I am reminded of the times I spent in the hallways of Umphrey Lee prior to and after each of my classes. Whether it was sitting on the crazy comfortable couches near the vending machines or lying on the cold floor with our furry friend Bear, I always felt at ease in this environment. I’ll miss the conversations held in the classrooms as we wait for the rest of the class to arrive. I’ll miss the sound of rigorous typing around me and asking my neighbor where they got that awesome set of highlighters from. Most of all, I’ll miss the connections. I’ll miss that feeling I get when asking a question and the professor can see the confusion in my eyes. Even more, I’ll miss the look of satisfaction and grin on their face once they realize I now understand. As we adjust to an alternative method of learning, we hold onto the past and the little moments that made in-person classes so special. 

Looking Ahead

I’m sure we could all go on and on about what we miss about in-person classes. I know we all miss a lot of things about daily life pre-COVID. However, we’re all in this together and can still expect a wonderful fall semester. Countless administrative members, professors, and advisors are doing their best to keep the SMU community safe while protecting the integrity of our educations and college experiences. Even though many things are still up in the air, I can’t wait to get the semester started! See y’all soon.

For more information regarding SMU’s response to COVID-19 and the upcoming semester, please visit https://www.smu.edu/coronavirus.