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The Virtual Classroom and Silver Linings

I won’t lie. I was nervous when we reopened our classrooms. When we had seven students for a five day class, and four more for a class up at the Ridge. The house and classrooms had been quiet for so long; it felt strange to have folks coming and going, even though we were well-prepared.



If you read my post on how we prepared to welcome students back, you’ll know I tried to think of every eventuality and then overcompensate as much as possible. We have air cleaners and surface cleaners and regular cleaning schedules. We’ve swapped out traditional hand-woven hand towels for paper. We’ve given each student their own space, and marked it out on the floor so there is no ambiguity. We’ve issued each student their own set of tools and walked all of our pre-COVID rules back. Do not share with thy neighbor. Masks. Hand-washing. Distance. Yes, yes, yes.



And still I was nervous. What if you didn’t come back? What if you resented me and my rules? What if the Glen felt too different? What if what we’ve spent the past five years working for couldn’t transition to this altered way of life? What would I do?



Turns out that we make a pretty good team. Our students, our customers, our friends. Thank you for being completely onboard as we work to provide the best weaving experience anywhere. Anytime. It worked, thanks to you.



Together, we’ve managed to stay safe. To share our work. To learn something new. To connect. Yes, it’s different, but still worthwhile. Still valuable. Still necessary. And we’re still learning.



In addition to cautionary measures taken on site here at the Glen, we’ve jumped into new technology (along with everyone else) and we are offering many of our classes via the Zoom platform. Once again, thanks to your participation and feedback, we are improving every day, and so is your experience, both virtual and in-person.



We took the opportunity to ask our in-person students recently how they felt about being in the classroom during a pandemic. We were grateful to hear that our students felt very comfortable participating, citing the safety measures we’ve incorporated into our routines. Tom recently taught a five-day Beginning Weaving class, and the lecture portion was taught outside on the patio, under umbrellas, overlooking the creek. Silver linings.



But what about the folks taking our classes virtually? Could we recreate that same bliss that accompanies class here at the Glen? Not exactly, but we were surprised to hear some of the benefits. Less travel time. More economical without the commute and hotel accommodations. No planning ahead to board the dog or cat. No rushing to finish your project before class ended. We were thrilled to hear that our students appreciated the little things, like leaving a live link open so you can hear the conversation and the class looms at work. The opportunity to show your work and progress to the entire class on the big screen. The fact that everyone, whether in-person or virtual, really felt that they’d learned new skills.



And we’re not done tweaking yet. Based on your feedback, we plan to incorporate open conversation coffee/tea chats where students get to know each other a little more. Connection is a huge part of the weaving community, and while that will never change, we may need to find new and creative ways to do it long past this fall. This alone has spurned changes to our website that will soon include the option to study from home when you register for classes from here on out!



Thanks to you, we are up for the challenge, and we look forward to seeing you. We’re here for you both in-person and virtually, and we’re ever so grateful you’ve decided to stick with us as well. Community is a two-way street.