Professor and art & design chair Jim Keville is teaching sculpture, 3-D design and a hybrid ceramics class this term. Photo by Bryana Medina.
By Bryana Medina, Staff Reporter
While teaching during COVID-19, living in a pandemic and all the personal concerns Professor Jim Keville may face on a day-to-day basis, imagine teaching an in-person ceramics class and having to live your everyday life with the chance of exposing yourself to the virus that has taken over the globe.
Keville has been working at California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) since 2000. Today, he is the chair of the art and design department.
Spring 2020 started off like any other semester, but when classes were forced to become virtual in March, teaching got more challenging for Keville.
“It was challenging and disruptive because I did not have a plan in place,” Keville said.
Today, he finds himself on a computer more than ever. Between Zoom meetings, classes, and recording, editing and posting demonstration videos, he feels like he’s constantly staring at a screen.
“I miss seeing people on campus, running into people; students, staff, faculty, administrators, and having impromptu discussions,” Keville said. “I miss the social aspect of being with people on campus.”
Aside from the new challenges of being virtual, being on campus is very different for Keville now. He is challenged by the new environment and the new measures faculty members have to take to be as safe as possible.
Along with placing informative signs throughout campus, CSUDH has tried to ensure the safety of its students by providing hand sanitizers, gloves and masks in case anyone forgets or loses theirs.
This semester, Keville teaches ceramics, sculpture and 3-D design composition. He is on campus two to three times a week either teaching his classes, via Zoom and in-person, or working from his office.
His ceramic course is currently in-person and via Zoom depending on the students’ preference.
Only five students are allowed in the classroom at a time. Social distancing is enforced and masks must be worn the entire time.
“Wearing a mask the whole time is uncomfortable but necessary and doable,” Keville said.
A couple of students told Keville they were uncomfortable going on campus for his class due to the fear of exposing their loved ones, but the students who do physically attend said they really miss being on campus and they love the environment.
“I think we all would prefer to be face to face than remote,” Keville said.
Keville is one of the few professors who are on campus and in contact with many students, so he is constantly taking mental notes on certain things he should be doing to prevent getting the virus and being cautious of where he goes outside of school, for his safety and everyone else’s.
Knowing that this will carry over to spring 2021, Keville said he will be more prepared in the future.
He plans to have three separate classrooms, and each room will have five workstations that a student would be assigned to for the entire semester.
Along with a pottery wheel, each student will have a laptop where they can watch Keville teach via Zoom from one of the three rooms.
Having a plan in place for the future is important to Keville as he focuses on getting used to this new way of living his everyday life by remaining composed and keeping a positive outlook on everything going on. At times, the stress can be too much and he can feel overwhelmed.
“I have good days and bad days,” Keville said. “Some days, I’m doing quite well and feeling productive, and other days I feel like I can’t keep it together and fall behind.”
To manage his stress, Keville does a number of things like cooking and watching interesting shows and videos. He also likes to play with Legos to escape and keep his creative mind flowing.
Although Keville is not the only educator going through this right now, he wants other professors to take things day by day.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself, I often think I could be doing more but then I reflect on what I have done and think, there is always more to do, but this is good enough for today,” Keville said.“Of all my responsibilities, the one to my students comes first.”