Dr. Angela Thomas (right) holds office hours outside her RV.  

Dr. Angela Thomas (right) holds office hours outside her RV.  

BGSU faculty member goes the extra mile for students

"Edugating" in a COVID-19 world

van office hours 

angela thomas 

By Andrew Addessi

While enhanced technology has allowed BGSU classrooms to reach students around the world, Dr. Angela Thomas, associate professor of education with the College of Education and Human Development, wanted to keep an in-person connection with students this fall.

She was struck with the idea of “Edugating” – a portmanteau of ‘educating’ and ‘tailgating’ – to safely interact with students outside of the classroom.

“I was sharing with my husband, Shayne, how concerned I was for my students and wondered what I could do to welcome my students to campus without our traditional program meetings,” Thomas said. “He said, ‘This may be kind of hokey, but how about if I drive you up in the RV? I’ll roll out the awning to give the students some shade and they can spread out and meet with you from a distance. I’ll fly the BG flag so they can find you in a parking lot.’”

With the BGSU flag flying high, Thomas and her husband’s plan to “edugate” attracted many of her students, both former and current students. The academic-tinted tailgate allowed Thomas to get to know her students better and address questions and concerns they had about the upcoming semester. The connections and interactions were well worth the 50-mile trek to bring the RV from Thomas’s home.

Across BGSU, faculty have been inventing new ways to interact with students. Whether it is finding new and enriching ways to teach online or visiting outside of classroom hours under safe methods.

“I believe that good teaching requires a solid investment of time spent in planning and preparation – regardless if one is teaching face-to-face or in a remote fashion,” Thomas said. “It has been incredibly time-consuming, but when I read the anonymous survey comments back from the students about how they think the class went, it warms my heart and it’s exceedingly rewarding to know that investing hours and hours of my time in planning was worth it.”

The adaptability of educators during COVID-19 has been astounding, and Thomas hopes that this creative teaching continues into the next generation of teachers. As an associate professor of education, Thomas is teaching her students how to face both old and new challenges.

“I hope my students learn from my role-modeling, how I handle the various situations that come up while teaching, and how I act as a teacher doing things I’ve not done before,” Thomas said. “I hope they aren’t afraid to tackle new challenges that arise, and to think outside of the box too.”

As seasoned teachers adapt to the new climate, future teachers learn new tactics to address obstacles both in and out of the classroom. Thomas plans to continue preparing her students for a career with endlessly winding roads, helping them to see that there are many ways to get creative and think outside the box.

“Edugating” may be new, but its effectiveness can’t be denied.