COVID-19 Oral Histories – Alice Lurain
For the past few weeks, Packer’s Upper School History Club has been working on an oral history project that documents the Packer community’s experience with COVID-19. Through 30 minute interviews with various people in the community, we have been recording people’s feelings, thoughts, and stories about this global pandemic. In addition to posting select parts of the interviews to the Prism website in both transcript and video form, we are also archiving these interviews at the Brooklyn Historical Society so that we can keep a visual and written record of these testimonies for the future generations. As for now, we hope this project is a way for people to stay connected and share their unique personal stories. Each week, new interviews will be posted, so keep coming back to learn more about your classmates’, teachers’, and colleagues’ experiences during this difficult and unusual time. We hope you enjoy!
-The Leaders of History Club: Sadie Sadler, Amelia Killackey, and Nick Yohn
Alice Lurain: Upper School Chemistry Teacher
Interviewed by: Nathalie Pridgen
Q: How have you been feeling during this time?
A: Um, I think mostly I feel overwhelmed. Uhhh, my [pause] I have been teaching for over 20 years, but um teaching online is a really different experience and it feels like going back to being a first-year teacher when I really didn’t know anything. Ummm, and I was starting from ground zero, and creating all my lessons from the start umm and thinking through, you know, how to go about scaffolding student learning all the time. Umm [pause], and I still do that, you know, in my classroom normally, but certainly not to the extent that I have to do it now. And uhh, soo so that has felt very overwhelming. Um and, you know I think because I am not actually a first-year teacher I know when like a lesson is not great [Chuckle, laughter]. Right when you are in the beginning and it’s your first-year teacher you don’t even really know when things are not that great. Um, so I find that really hard ahhh, it’s kind of frustrating to um, as a professional. So my work as a teacher has felt sort of overwhelming in that way. Umm, and I guess you know uhh everything else is kind of overwhelming too. It’s like I don’t even know where to put my focus. [Laugh] Umm so that would be the um my biggest um descriptor for how I feel right now.
Q: What’s a moment that you felt really happy in quarantine?
A: Ummm [pause], last weekend my parents, and my sister and her husband, and my wife and I had a zoom meeting which I was dreading because I do all these zoom meetings all day long and I was like do we really do I really want to do that on my weekend. Uhh, but we played charades which is something we did all the time when we were growing up. My father is notoriously terrible at charades, so it’s hilarious. Like we play mostly just to see him make a fool of himself in the most hilarious way. Uhh and sooo, I’d been having a tough week so my sister was like the thing to do is to play charades with the family. And I was like okay let’s do this, and it was absolutely hilarious. I haven’t laughed that hard in, I don’t know how long. Uhh, so it was totally worth it. And, I mean just the hilarity of everyone getting on to the zoom meeting was already, you know, worth it. And uhh, it was just really nice to see them. Because I hadn’t seen them you know like visually seen them, in I don’t months. Um, and so my parents were initially skeptical of this idea, and then afterward they kept sending us emails and text messages saying how fun it was. Uh so, I think we will be doing that again. So, that was nice.
Q: Another faculty member said that all teachers feel like they themselves are the worst teacher they have ever seen, would you agree?
A: [Laughter] Um, yeah. Uh I think that teachers are very critical, we’re very critical of ourselves. Um, I and I uh I mean the literally seeing [air quotes] myself is terrible. Like ah uh I mean, you know I [pause]. We don’t walk around all the time looking at ourselves. Like I don’t know what I look like when I’m well, now I do know what I look like when I’m teaching, it’s horrifying. [Laughter] No wonder everyone is laughing. I mean [Chuckle], I thought I was funny, I’m just funny looking. Uhhh you know it’s uh [pause] but yeah. I mean there is this sort of, I think, umm the teacher mindset is very much a growth mindset so there is this like continuous effort to improve. And so, in order to want to uh improve all the time you also have to think you suck all the time kind of. [Chuckle]. So yeah.
See more of Dr. Lurain’s interview in the video below: