Stirred, Not Shaken

Dragonfruit Martinis。在平静的时期制作。

拧柠檬水。如果生活给你柠檬,找一个有伏特加的人并制作马提尼。

I have been teaching college classes online since March 21.

我喜欢它吗?不是特别。这是一个更多的工作吗?上帝,是的。我觉得自己有3天是足够的时间准备,或者在明智地使用这三天的回顾性吗?不,我觉得我会变得更好吗?确实。我认为学生们从一个人的体验中得到了尽可能多的事吗?当然不。我担心如何影响我的课程评估,或我的研究计划? Research, yes, oddly no for evals.

然而,在整个过去几周之后,我的整体占主导地位是一种感激之情。And I’m not just talking about the “obvious” breaths of fresh air like being able to work from home without having to be furloughed, or having a job that—ironic, since I’m pre-tenure—is stable in this crazy market. I’m not just talking about having a clean, quiet apartment where I can record videos or turn my camera on without feeling embarrassed about what’s in the background. I’m not just talking about having enough money to pay rent, and the internet bill (arguably at this point more important than rent).

I feel absolutely terrible for my students right now. They did not sign up for this. They thought they were coming back from spring break, so who would bring their calc ii materials home? A lot of them do not have calculators, their notes, etc., and there is 0 plan to return those items to them in anything resembling the near future. They are now having to share space with family, including very noisy younger siblings; they’re having to share computers possibly with others who need the computer for their classes or their jobs. Many of their family members, quite frankly, are taking advantage of the extra hands and asking students to spend what would otherwise be their time for class helping out around the house—watching younger siblings, acting as a chauffeur to other relatives.

尽管如此,仍有一个非凡的number who are trying to learn. I made my regular class time office hours. I did not expect that many to come. But easily 20/36 students are appearing EVERY DAY. Granted, that’s terrible compared to our in-person realities (but students at Navy are required daily to be on time and not leave early, not just in attendance); but given the circumstances and time zone issues alone, I’m rather impressed. I’m making Khan-academy esque videos for them to watch with printed transcripts in case bandwidth is an issue. They’re actually asking questions in office hours about the videos. They are ALL doing on time and with zero complaint the “easter egg” problems I’ve hidden in the videos for them to work by hand and upload. They are giving me honest, and constructive, feedback as I ask them how new methods of assessment are working.

所以,第一次......真的,永远......如果学生通过电子邮件发送给我要求更多的帮助或私人会议 - 我要做everythingin my power to comply. I’ve been notorious for having packed office hours, and for putting a lot of time in for students who put in a lot of time, but we’re at the next level here because our current situation is next level. If I have to, I’m now meeting with students outside regular business hours. Since this started and even tomorrow I have met and will meet with students on Saturdays. Each of those Saturdays they’ve had a list of questions, haven’t wasted my time, have seemed very grateful for my time, and that wasthe only timethey有。所以,如果他们仍然对抗这种艰苦的战斗,试图妨碍理解自己的能力挑战,我将成为他们柠檬的伏特加。

I also feel sad for some of my colleagues (and I’m using that term broadly to include those not just at my current institution). A lot of them have children, which seem draining of resources and borderline counterproductive even without a pandemic and a “work from home” order. Many who are more…established, so to speak…also are not very savvy with or embracing of technology; they also aren’t used to being forced to do anything, let alone something they weren’t at least consulted on beforehand. Many who are less established don’t have the money to afford the technology one ideally would use to make quality online classroom experiences; throw in a kid or two, and their lives do not sound like fun right now.

So I’m sharing my materials with my colleagues. And more have started sharing their materials too—including materials from before Spring break to help students who again don’t have their notes. Many have assigned their students my videos to watch; I have given my students their handouts for earlier sections where I didn’t already have a handout. We are making cocktails left and right.

Despite being completely by myself, it’s hard to complain too much with my new office view.

Those colleagues who know me well I think feel somewhat sad for me. Because in these times of social distancing and isolating, I truly am alone. I have no roommate, no children, not even a cat or a dog. No one working for the greater D.o.D can travel outside an x-mile radius for the foreseeable future, so it’s not like I’m able to pack up and drive to a relative’s for company. But quite a few neighbors in my apartment have left. The apartment complex itself is nestled between a golf course and a (shut-down now) elementary school. You can hear a pin drop. But again I am grateful. Four of five working days next week I have online coffee breaks with colleagues. Another working night I have a faculty online happy hour. Just to hear a voice or see a face that isn’t one of a student. Maybe that’s making Irish coffees as well as martinis, but also maybe by now you get my point.

None of us asked for this. Many of us have hardships in transitioning online or working from home, and that’s assuming we don’t have additional hardships because of actual medical or serious financial problems. But there’s really no point even in focusing on how bad it is, because it’s not going to change the reality that这是我们的现实。Reflect at the end of the term, reflect when this is over. There’s no time to reflect now.

Right now, the only thing you can do is make martinis.

Go above and beyond for those students who are trying their all to beat the odds. Help your colleagues by sharing materials, by offering to help them figure out technology, by having online coffee breaks. People know things are bad; try not to add to the depression of others, including yourself. It is hard, but if we couldn’t do hard things, we wouldn’t have Ph.D.’s; if we couldn’t do hard things, we wouldn’t be the ones teaching others how to doanything。找一些感激的东西 - 无论是没有孩子的和平,还是缺乏孤独的和孤独。

干杯。

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