All of us are navigating our way through the fog of a pandemic that defies description. In the midst of this, I have been encouraged, cheered, and uplifted by the words of my colleagues and friends, both here at ACC and elsewhere.
Department chairs deserve special recognition for their leadership in this time of uncertainty and constantly changing conditions. From the Biology Department Chair – where there are unique challenges in suddenly transitioning from hands-on, wet lab learning objectives to virtual labs for the remainder of the semester:
“I want to hear . . . ways we can satisfactorily meet all our objectives for every course we offer, totally online. It may not be ideal, but I do not want to hear why it can’t be done, no whining! We have outstanding, innovative faculty that will present methods to meet our objectives.”
From the Math Department Chair, who is trying to lead her faculty in the transition all levels of math to online learning, from developmental courses through Calculus III and Differential Equations, and where “show your work” is paramount:
“We are losing a week of classes at the same time we are asking students to learn a new format of instructional delivery. . . I know all of this is likely overwhelming to you. We’ll take it one step at a time (like a complicated math problem) and get through it. Our goal is to get through this semester teaching our students as much as we can.
Students will be struggling with this as much as you are, maybe more. It’s important to be empathetic during this time – let some of your policies, deadlines, etc. go and understand students are trying to make the best of this too. Many of them will now have their kids at home indefinitely and won’t have the time they’d typically have to work on coursework. Many have limited access to technology . . . Some will be sick or taking care of someone who is sick.”
From a History adjunct faculty member (and long-time friend and colleague) in an email to his students:
“We, all of us, did not sign up for this. We did not sign up for the coronavirus and this pandemic. We did not sign up for online courses, social distancing, staying home, going stir crazy, and the like. . . What can we do? We can support each other intellectually and as human beings. . . . We will work together to finish this course and make it meaningful to you.”
From an instructional dean to his department chairs:
“First, take a moment to breathe and think. . . . No one would have chosen this path. No one should have illusions; compromise will be necessary. . . This is a time to lay aside the perfectionism that often goes with our calling. . . I strongly encourage you to set realistically low expectations and prioritize mercilessly.”
From the Director of the Texas Success Center:
“Students in general are dealing with high levels of anxiety, isolation, and unpredictability – as are we. Remaining connected to ur students and providing them with stable, thoughtful support and connecting them to appropriate resources is essential.”
And from me:
We need to find reservoirs of grace and compassion. We need to be patient a and kind and forgiving – of missed due dates, of spotty connectivity during a Collaborate session, of having to record a lecture three times before you’re satisfied enough to upload it to Blackboard. And we need to maintain our sense of humor.
I’ll leave you with this. Watch it and laugh and remember that we’re all getting through this as best we can.