April 17, 2020
By Shelley Howell, Ed.D.
This semester is different. This year is different. We are all anxious and under stress – students, faculty, staff, and literally most people in our world, so let’s take a collective moment to recognize that we cannot conduct our classes as usual and give ourselves a break from perfection.
Remember, it takes months of collaboration between faculty and instructional designers to create a quality online course. It is important for us to recognize that this type of quality cannot be created and implemented in a matter of days. We can do our best, but we can’t be perfect. Let’s focus on what we can do right now:
- Recognize that emergency remote teaching is not the same as facilitating an online course. As with any emergency situation, we make do with what we have and what we know. Don’t be afraid to talk to your students about the situation and how you will move forward, imperfectly.
- It’s okay for your students to see you fail. It’s okay that you are learning new things and not always being perfect while doing so. We are all learning new tools and new ways of doing things. This is an opportunity to show your students that failure is part of growing and learning, for everyone.
- Take a break. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions swirling around us. Don’t fall prey to compassion fatigue. Take a break from your computer and go for a walk. Take that nap. Turn off the news. Breaks are good for you.
- Minimize distractions. With kids and family members all home together, distractions are inevitable. Do what you can to find a quiet place to work. Consider spending time on your porch, or in the car. Take a deep breath when you are interrupted and try to not be too frustrated. Kids, pets and family members might not realize how much work you have to do or how much stress you are under.
- Set realistic goals. Focus on providing clear instructions to students, ensuring all students can participate by providing asynchronous options, reviewing and revising your learning outcomes, and finding ways to meet those outcomes in the online environment. Don’t just try to mimic your face-to-face instructional strategies and current assignment requirements. Showing compassion and empathy for your students should be your first priority.
- Celebrate the wins. Whether it’s having high levels of student participation or just having a successful live session without a technology glitch, celebrating small successes can be an emotional boost for you and for your students. All things considered, you are all doing a great job!
We have an unprecedented opportunity with our own behavior to show our students how to deal with stress, uncertainty and change. Our behavior can help shape how our students view and handle difficult situations in the future. Let’s make that a positive shift by taking care of ourselves and sharing our humanity with our students.
For inspiration, watch this Town Hall on Wellbeing in the Midst of a Pandemic to get some great insight from your faculty colleagues.