It’s Friday, 5:00 p.m. You have managed to complete most (or at least some) of your remote learning assignments for the week. Like others, you are bored, cocooned in the surroundings of your home. The faces of your teachers appear and laughter bounces off of the walls as you socialize with peers. How is this possible, given that distancing restrictions are in effect? Some fun can still be had with your teachers and schoolmates, at least virtually. Just tune in to the live karaoke session that your Mathematics teachers are hosting every Friday afternoon from five to six p.m. through Google Meets.
The teachers of the Mathematics department know how to solve your dilemma of boredom by offering a lot of fun. Mr. Liang is not afraid to do a guitar solo, and sometimes, Ms. Thompson’s son steals the show on the screen. The teachers play catchy tunes and share lots of jokes. Yes, these are the same teachers that taught you complex and intricate lessons on mathematics for 40 minutes a day when you sat in a classroom. And now, they’re singing “Take on Me” by A-ha, “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, or “Popular” from Wicked for your entertainment!
These teachers are breaking the boundary of connecting only through Google Classroom by using karaokes to provide a way for Bronx Science students to engage with faculty and other students. It is normal for students to feel detached from their friends and school during this time. Hopefully, when the teachers are all trying to sing Whitney Houston’s high-pitched notes, the unease that you feel is replaced with a fondness for the Bronx Science spirit.
How did these karaoke sessions come about? Ms. Costanzo started the idea. As Ms. Won said, Ms. Costanzo was the “singer of the math department,” fueled by her love of singing. When presented with the idea of a virtual karaoke night, she went with it. Ms. Li said that Ms. Costanzo shared the idea with more mathematics teachers, and many teachers, along with students, came together to be a part of the first ever virtual karaoke session hosted by the Math Department. The first session turned out excellent, and soon it became a weekly occurrence.
The karaoke sessions have been a success because there is high participation, and the sessions relieve stress. Ms. Li described Ms. Costanzo as an “excellent performer,” and the students have interacted a lot through the chat feature on Google Meets, giving out song recommendations. Some students, including myself, have even sung along with the teachers. Ms. Won attributes the singing participation to the “off-sync” aspect of the karaoke sessions. She said that these hide your off-tune vocals, making it less intimidating to participate. Therefore, you will not sound as bad when you sing! In terms of relieving stress, Ms.Won says that the sessions help her to “mentally relax” as she sees and hears her coworkers “smile and sing merrily every once in a while.” Ms. Li said that the karaoke sessions are a great way to sing songs after a long and stressful week of work.
Ms. Won definitely thinks that the interactions that she makes with her students during the karaoke sessions have been worthwhile. In fact, some of her students get to know her better through the online interactions. Ms. Won admits that she has revealed more of who she is as a person, which can help our students to realize that they are not alone. Humans all go through bouts of emotion, and this quarantine has brought out a wave of feelings. Ms. Won feels that her students take comfort in the fact that “there’s an actual human being behind all of the lesson uploading and [homework] assigning, not an AI doing all that remote teaching.” Ms. Costanzo also agrees with the fact that teachers should be doing more than posting lessons and assignments. “Teachers can also post uplifting messages and encourage socialization,” Ms. Costanzo said. Whether it’s a teacher or a student, there are many feelings shared during these troubling times.
Ms. Li values the importance of different forms of communication with her students during this time of remote learning. Because she offers a plethora of ways that students can communicate with her, they have the option to talk to her however they choose. She also talks to her students about various topics, providing open conversations. “My students also know that they can talk to me about anything, whether it is academic-related or not. Sometimes, they just want to chat about what’s going on in the world or something funny that happened the other day,” said Ms. Li.
These karaoke sessions help to solidify and strengthen the bond between students and their teachers, and it allows members of the Mathematics department to thrive with a sense of community. With these karaoke sessions, you can brighten up your Friday evenings with some exciting songs from your beloved teachers.
These karaoke sessions help to solidify and strengthen the bond between students and their teachers.