March 16 Day 8: Personal Mantra and the Second Wave

Day 8 in the Year of the Plague: Today marks “the second wave” of transitioning away from face-to-face classes to some form of remote instruction.  There will be a third wave next Monday and I am sure a fourth, five, and sixth as more institutions get on-board with social distancing after Spring break,  extended spring break, or a Governor’s mandate.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—my personal mantra:

Don’t panic. You don’t have to be an expert. Just use what you know and adapt. Ask for help. Offer help. Breathe.

Everyone has been helpful sharing resources and ideas. There is so much information out there–whether a Facebook group, a twitter hashtag, or a Project NExT listserve–it is overwhelming and hard to keep up with. In an attempt to organize and curate discussions, MAA’s “Online teaching and distance learning” community was created. Please join (if you have not already done so, and continue discussions there.  Don’t worry about reading and digesting it all. Focus on what you need.

Ask for help. Offer help…

The COVID-19 viral disruption affects us all–particularly our most vulnerable citizens.  Find ways to connect your students and humanize this unprecedented and isolating experience.

Offer help…

Worry less about the integrity of online examinations and quality of online content. Worry more about the people.  Assume best intentions. Think about your learning goals: to enable students to be critical thinkers? problem solvers? to have flexible minds and be able to adapt? They will get all that through the experience you provide and more.  Will it really matter if your Calculus I class doesn’t get to L’Hopital’s rule or your Calculus II class doesn’t get to partial fraction decomposition? I doubt it. For those that need it, there will be time later. For now, congratulate yourself on getting through the first day (or the first week or planning for a future week) and just


Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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