Teaching on the Block Plan for the first time can be challenging. But teaching on the Block Plan for the first time and doing it online is “a double learning curve.” Assistant Professor of History John Marquez started his career at Colorado College from home.

During Block 1, Marquez co-taught an online junior history seminar with Assistant Professor of History Purvi Mehta. They used a combination of synchronous and asynchronous elements during the course to prepare students for their senior papers or thesis research. In addition to assigned readings, Marquez and Mehta also asked their 11 students to listen to a podcast about some of the course topics.

“I’m really impressed that students have done such quality work, even under these circumstances,” Marquez told The CC COVID-19 Reporting Project.

Unlike some of the professors who ironed out some of the kinks of remote teaching during Blocks 7 and 8, Marquez said he’s still learning how to use Zoom. He calls the Office of Information Technology three or four times per week for support.

Other history faculty gave Marquez suggestions and shared teaching ideas with him, and Mehta guided and mentored him through their Block 1 course. Marquez said it was helpful to co-teach his first class because he wasn’t going through it alone. He also enjoyed meeting his Block 1 students, many of whom are either history majors or minors.

“Although it has been stressful as a first-year faculty member, I’ve just been so pleased to meet students,” Marquez said. “I think everyone is doing such amazing work and that really, totally cancels out all the stress and all of the other external things that happen.”

He’s teaching Blocks 3, 5, and 8, and he elected to teach them in the “flex” format. Initially, Marquez hoped to offer some small group or individual in-person meetings out on one of the quads. However, because in-person or hybrid lab classes are among the only types of classes CC invited students to campus for this semester, his students may not happen to be on campus or in Colorado Springs during Block 3.

Marquez was looking forward to moving into his office in Palmer and informally meeting students in the department around the ever-present animal cracker jar. Instead, the History Department started a Slack channel and is offering blockly conversations over Zoom.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be here,” Marquez said. “The students have been wonderful and I feel very welcomed here. It’s not ideal to start a new job in a pandemic, but I do feel quite supported.”

Original publication date: Sept. 30