Dr. Robert Wells is an associate professor of Spanish at William Jewell College. Wells is entering his sixth year at Jewell and has demonstrated an outstanding ability to invoke engagement in the classroom. As a Jewell student who has taken a couple of Wells’ Spanish courses, I can attest to his unique ability to make Spanish a fun and enjoyable language to learn, speak and write. Although these times are strange due to the global pandemic, Wells still intends on teaching his courses at the same level of excellence as previous semesters.
Here is how he is doing that:
Wells knew that the pandemic would change the dialogue-heavy style of his courses. Spanish is a language that requires face-to-face interaction so that people can speak to one another. Without this component of learning in the regular classroom, Spanish can prove even more challenging to learn. However, Wells remains committed to ensuring his students learn Spanish, despite the added challenge
Currently, Wells is teaching three Spanish courses this semester through a hybrid model. The hybrid model consists of a blend of both in-person and virtual meetings. For instance, a student enrolled in Spanish 211 will have a weekly hybrid schedule that looks similar to this:
Monday: Meet face-to-face
Wednesday: Meet on Zoom
Friday: Complete activities on Moodle
Wells uses a collaborative, multimedia slide-show that holds images, videos and voice recordings called VoiceThread. VoiceThread grants Wells and his students the ability to converse in Spanish by using the audio recording feature. Wells has integrated VoiceThread as a defining part of his courses during the COVID-19 times. By using this engaging tech-tool, Wells can effectively administer a dialogue-enriched learning environment.
When away from Jewell, Wells continues to put his creative mind to fair use. Wells loves to watch movies, which is helpful as a Spanish professor. Wells also purchased an at-home projector during quarantine, which has enhanced the movie-watching experience. Wells is also a part of a movie club with some of his friends, where Wells and his friends will watch a movie and then discuss their opinions and observations about it over FaceTime. Wells appreciates the artistic and intellectual stimulation he gets from the movie club. In addition to his movie club, Wells keeps up on his reading of various types of literature.
As of late, Wells uses his time to reconnect and catch-up with old friends he has not talked to in a while. Although Zoom and Facetime are the primary ways Wells communicates with his old friends, he stated that “in some ways, I am in better contact with them than before the pandemic.”
Wells enjoys going outside for long dog walks with his border collie mix named Pilar. Wells regards being outdoors as an essential part of his life, especially now. He appreciates the time spent with Pilar and is thankful for their time together.
Something Wells misses are the daily interactions he has with his students and fellow faculty members – he truly values the moments he shares with other people. During the isolation and loneliness, Wells remains hopeful we will all interact like once before.
As of Aug. 1, Wells has been appointed as the Faculty Advisor for The Hilltop Monitor. This is a new position for Wells, and he has been preparing for the role during the 2020 summer while simultaneously teaching his summer online CTI course, The U.S.-Latinx Experience. Wells is excited about his new role and is committed to the importance of journalism.
Wells is a great model for how a person should think and act during COVID-19. In the classroom, Wells is still able to deliver his courses with an engaging atmosphere and provide a healthy and safe learning environment. At home, he finds ways to maximize his time and connect with other people from earlier and more recent times in his life.
Wells is a reminder that even though COVID-19 has changed all of our lives, the one thing that will remain constant is his love and care for his students at William Jewell College.