Completing the Virtual Chapter

Hi, y'all! My name is Lissy Hodge, and I recently graduated Teachers College on May 20th with my Masters of Arts in Mathematics Education with an Elementary Specialization. I am from Kansas City but moved to the Big Apple in August 2018. While at TC, I worked in the Admission Office, assisted on an NSF funded research project focusing on STEM engagement, served as a TA for the Math Department, lived on campus, and spent many hours in the wonderful TC library!  As I recently completed my (last and final) spring semester, I took some time to reflect on my experience at TC as well as my graduation ceremony. I hope you enjoy reading about my TC experience and what was like learning virtually! Roar Lion Roar!

The Digital File

This article is part of the TC Digital File, an ongoing series spotlighting the efforts of TC faculty members to adapt and enhance their teaching in a new era of remote learning.

Recently, I finished my Master of Arts in Math Education. This is something that I worked tirelessly and courageously for over the last two years. I never thought my last two and a half months at TC  would be conducted virtually, distant and away from my friends and professors. However, despite the changes that occured, I  will always feel connected to the TC community that I have come to love and admire. 

I started at TC in August of 2018. I am from Kansas City, and moved to New York City to pursue a Masters of Arts in Math Education with an Elementary Specialization. I lived in one of the TC residence halls, worked in the Admission Office, assisted on an NSF research project focused on STEM engagement, served as the TA for an elementary math methods course, and somehow managed to take a full load of coursework. This past semester, I had reduced to taking only 6 credits as I am now teaching 4th grade math at a school on the Upper East Side.

[Read a story about how TC moved at warp speed to take its courses online. Now the College is redefining virtual instruction.]

Similar to many others, I did not anticipate the severity to which COVID-19 would affect the US.  When Columbia switched to an online format for the rest of the year, I was shocked and a bit discouraged. However, reflecting, I appreciate and respect how quickly and proactively Columbia treated the entire situation. I felt blessed that I was able to maintain my residence and not have to collect and move out all of my possessions. I decided, with my family, to leave New York and visit Kansas City for my spring break. 

During my last semester at TC, I took a Middle School Math Methods course and an Independent Study focusing on fractions. I was hesitant and unsure how these courses would be translated online. TC has provided so many resources; learning how to use Zoom and other online interfaces was made seamless and easy. My professor articulated different ways to adapt and enhance the learning experience for everyone.  I enjoyed the Zoom class and appreciated all of the professors’ constant compassion. I was worried my classmates and I would be less connected, but our group chat  helped to keep everyone close. In addition, my classmates were phenomenal in helping to ensure everyone had the class resources required. Of course, I left my textbook in New York, but was sent PDFs of the chapters. Outside of class, my friends and I connected via phone calls, Zoom hangouts/happy hours, and social media. I didn’t feel nearly as lonely as I expected. 

Although the anticipation of the graduation ceremony and all of the convocation events leading up to the big day have subsided, I am still grateful for the experience. I continuously reflect on my years at TC, my relationships with students and professors, my experiences, and above all, the development and growth into the academic that I am today. The period of virtual learning was different and strange, but it still felt like TC.  I am sad  that  my experience has come to an end, but TC will always feel like home.