“They wore microphones and tried face shields. They cut holes into surgical masks for instruments. They leaned more heavily than normal on videos and other visuals. And they spent a lot of their days telling students over and over to pull their masks up.”

– Colleen Connolly


Teaching Behind A Mask: A Year And Counting…

As another unpredictable teaching year unfolds, educators continue to find innovative and creative ways to foster connection while teaching behind masks.

Red Deer Polytechnic Teaching with a Mask Infographic



How Can I Humanize The Classroom, While Wearing A Mask?

Embrace Technology and Humanize the Classroom:


  • Masks Can Muffle Your Voice:Take a break from live lecturing! Make a mini video lecture to share while in class. It will give students a break from straining to hear you while allowing for the opportunity to see your face and personality.



  • Masks May Delay Comprehension: Muffled voices and the inability to lipread may delay or diminish comprehension. Speak slowly, clearly, and project your voice even if it feels unnatural. Consider leveraging captioning technologies to enhance the accessibility of your lectures. For example, Google Slides presenter mode features live captioning.



  • Masks Can Dehumanize and Medicalize the Classroom: Share pictures of yourself on the projector without a mask. Ask your students (if comfortable) to show pictures of themselves not wearing masks, too.



  • Masks Can Hide Emotions: Conduct a “temperature” check (can be anonymous) with students at the start of the class using visual presentation software such as Mentimeter, Sli.do, or a poll in Collaborate Ultra. This is an excellent way to “read the room” when you cannot see their faces and adjust teaching to the range of emotions shared.



  • Masks Can Make Social Interaction Difficult: Create opportunities using Blackboard where students can continue class discussions online, ask follow-up assignment questions, share ideas and work collectively, or consider hosting virtual office hours.




Connolly, C. (2021, June 9). A year behind the mask: As this school year draws to a close, educators reflect on teaching without face time.


Hamman, N. (2021, March 3). Why We Should Humanize the Online Classroom – Now More Than Ever.


Landau, J. (2020, August 26). How to teach F2F in a mask and create caring classrooms.


McAllister, R. (2021, February 23). The Challenges of Teaching Behind a Mask (and Some Possible Solutions).


Roy, D. and Duncan, J. (2021, July 21). 7 tips for making masks work in a classroom.


Teaching With A Mask. Montclair State University. Retrieved September 1, 2021, from https://www.montclair.edu/information-technology/teaching-with-a-mask/#captioning



ctl@rdpolytech.ca | 403.356.4989 | Teaching Common – 913C | Find us on theLoop | Find us on Twitter and Facebook @rdpolyctl

Updated September 23, 2021

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