To gain a sense of how professors have had to adapt to a new style of teaching, we sat down with Assistant Professor of Law Maureen “Molly” Brady, the recently selected Section 3 Leader and a recipient of the 2020 Student Government Teaching and Advising Awards. Interview conducted and condensed by The Record President Robert Mahari.
Q. What is the most challenging aspect of teaching law online?
We all miss the human connection, immensely. There’s something about being in the classroom — being able to laugh, think seriously, receive visual feedback from your teacher — that’s really important. I pay a lot of attention to whether my students are bored or zoning out, and I miss the sense of shared enterprise in the classroom environment, which is difficult to replicate when you see just 25 faces on Zoom.
Unlike last semester, you won’t start the term sitting next to people. You will need to get to know one another and figure out who your “neighbors” are in a new context. Another major challenge is not a result of being online, but a function of the difficult circumstances presented by the pandemic: There’s an immense level of stress that ebbs and flows for all of us. I describe it as the “pandemic up and downs.” Some days you are just unexpectedly emotional about something. As students deal with this, it will impact their focus and, as an instructor, being compassionate is really essential right now. That’s a challenge for us — to have the high expectations that we should at HLS but also to maintain compassion.
Q. How has your teaching style adapted to this new format?
One of the most important things in the online classroom is transparency and structure. It is really hard to sit in a Zoom room when you have no sense of what is coming, so it is important to be more transparent and provide more structure to students and really have a concrete plan about how to use your time together most effectively.
Also, like I said, you will not be sitting next to someone […]