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Reflecting on a Pandemic Year+

Reflecting on a Pandemic Year+

We’re coming to the end of an academic year spent wrestling with the pandemic, which followed a summer spent wrestling with the pandemic, which followed a spring semester spent wrestling with the pandemic.  Most of us are exhausted and burned out, and many of us feel demoralized. We have screwed up every ounce of energy we’ve had to make it to this end point, and now comes a dizzying array of emotions: relief, grief, the ability to breathe again, panic,…

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A Breath

A Breath

For many of us, this week marks the one-year anniversary of lockdown, and the shift to lifeboat learning for much (or all) of spring 2020.  In revisiting that moment in tweets, FB memories, and things that I wrote, I’m struck by how wholly unprepared I was for that challenge. I’m also struck by how late our places of work made the decision to go online, and how short an on-ramp many of us had to provide instruction in an entirely…

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A letter from the floor

A letter from the floor

My friends and I have a shorthand for being completely overwhelmed: we say we’re lying on the floor.  I’ve used this phrase dozens of times and have never actually being lying on the floor while sharing it, but it encapsulates something raw and essential about reaching my personal capacity for coping.  Sometimes it’s all I can do or imagine. All I want is to lie on the floor. Kate Braestrup, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Maine, once observed that when…

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Teaching Academic Integrity

Teaching Academic Integrity

When I last taught my college’s First-Year Preceptorial class (a class focused on intensive reading and writing, and lots of class discussion), I wanted to find a new way to teach about academic integrity. Teaching a citation method and drilling down to the placement of periods and commas didn’t feel productive—more, it felt like it focused on all the ways in which students might screw up. I had heard students confess to being scared of citation, of mucking things up…

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Ungrading in a Pandemic

Ungrading in a Pandemic

Back in the Before Times, I wrote a blog post about ungrading, and how it had made an enormous difference in the experience of grading for both my students and myself.  Grading went from being a chore to being a delight, and I thought I had found The Way (tip o’ the hat to The Mandalorian) from which I would only deviate if I could improve upon it. Ha! Enter the pandemic. Where once I had every student come into…

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Business As Usual

Business As Usual

I’ve been musing over the last few days about the way we’re (at least I’m!) trying to conduct business as usual. On Friday, I hit a wall. I woke to the news that the President had Covid-19, and there was no time to process or assimilate this information—to work out what it meant—before I needed to teach my first synchronous class session of the day.  This news chased on the heels of a hundred other pieces of news: Amy Coney…

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It Can All Be Changed

It Can All Be Changed

Summer is winding down, and fall classes are around the corner; some have already begun, depending on the institution. If you’re like me, you’re anticipating fall while still trying to wring those last drops of meaning out of August, and if you’re like me, you’re doing so while tired, fractious, overwhelmed, and feeling really done with the pandemic (as if the pandemic cares how we feel).  So many of us have been working all summer to be ready for fall—not…

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Five Things I’ve Learned This Summer

Five Things I’ve Learned This Summer

A friend asked me to write up the things I’ve learned this summer as I’ve been working on how to be a better online educator than I was in the spring.  Here are my top five recommendations, with gratitude to the people—including Karen Costa, Clea Mahoney, Judith Dutill, and Melissa Wehler—who’ve taught me how to think more clearly about what’s ahead, make solid plans, and act confidently! Design for Online, and Adapt for Other Modalities None of us want to…

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I am a Rank Beginner

I am a Rank Beginner

I am a rank beginner at teaching online. Let’s be clear – for those of us who teach mostly face-to-face classes, the situation this spring has not been “online teaching,” but lifeboat education, emergency instruction, or, as my friend Professor Courtney Joseph puts it, the business of salvage-a-semester. True online teaching, like any pedagogical practice, requires planning, patience, training, support, and the time and willingness to learn from mistakes. Those of us who scrambled this spring to put our courses…

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Beginning Again

Beginning Again

After teaching my first emergency distance-learning class, I burst into tears. My upper-level seminar class contained just eight students, so we met on Zoom as I thought it would do us all good to see one another. But the experience was nothing like I had come to know and love in a face-to-face environment. With mics muted, we couldn’t hear ambient noise, or laugh with one another, or quickly follow up with one another’s comments. Some students had tech issues…

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