I survived my first day teaching in a masked, hybrid classroom.

A worker disinfects tables in between classes at Seton Hill University.

I survived the first day teaching in a masked classroom. As I expected, I had a very difficult time hearing my students.

I felt awkward taking up the first class talking about myself, but I told them I’ve recently been diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder. My ears can pick up the sounds of their voices, but for years (decades?) I’ve been relying on lip-reading to help my brain process those sounds. Masks suddenly took away all that information. While I can function fine in one-on-one conversations, it’s very hard to hear students when I’m at the podium.

A student who was sitting in the front row patiently kept telling me his name — Jonah? Jason? and even after I repeated it back to him correctly, I forgot it immediately because I was so rattled by how much effort it was taking to understand him. I see now on the seating chart he was *Joshua.*

I didn’t actually have any trouble hearing the students who were joining us by Zoom, even those who didn’t have their cameras on. (Am I picking up information from the little icon with the bar that fluctuates to show audio levels?)

It makes sense to ask all the in-person students to be on Zoom and unmute their mics when they ask a questions, so that their peers can hear it. If I wear earbuds during class and listen through my laptop, maybe that will help me process their words.

Several remote students used chat to ask me questions, which I then answered orally (if appropriate). Perhaps the in-person students will start using chat, too.

So I do have options. (I have my first appointment with an audiologist Friday.)

I’m very glad I was realistic about what I hoped to accomplish during class today.