October 30 Day 236. “Everything is Terrible But I Guess That’s Okay”

Friday evening. Hallelujah. It’s been… a week. Again.

Let’s talk about oral assessments. I finished interviews for the second group oral assessment of the quarter. There were 21 small group interviews over the week with the final interview concluding this evening at 6:30 pm. Today was a marathon; I completed thirteen 25-minutes interviews—for a total of 6.5 hours in a single day. Ten back-to-back interviews with only a five minute break in between from 8 am-1 pm. I loved interacting with the students in a way that is not possible in the larger class even if I won’t be able to recognize them IRL as one of my students.

The positives:

  • Assessments are essentially graded. I just have to record the justification in the Canvas grade book before I forget why I made particular assignments.
  • I still like the rubric. It seems fair and easy to apply.
  • For the most part, the group formation method was a success. People seemed to like the groups they formed and would like to continue with the same people for the next go-round.

The negatives:

  • I did not have a moment to breathe between 8 am and 6: 30 pm today. Not all of it was oral interviews but every moment of the day was spoken for. That. Is. Too. Much.
  • Six students did not show up at all. Health, care-taking responsibilities, and just giving up on themselves seem to top the rationalizations.
  • Even with trying to help groups self-form based on collaboration preferences, not every group worked as smoothly as others.

As with my previous assessment, there was a reflection. The questions were different and perhaps a bit more personal this time. Two were particularly important. The first:

Quick Check-In: How are you doing, really? There is a lot going on in the world and learning remotely is not what any of us really planned on.  Give me a number on a scale of -5 to 5 where
5 = Everything is absolutely fantastic.
0=Meh. Not too good. Not too bad.
-5= The polar opposite to everything being absolutely fantastic.

The class average was 0.9. I take that to mean they are surviving but not taking great pleasure from their lives. It pretty much sums up how I feel about my life too.

The second:

Quick Check-in: How are you doing, really? If you want, you can write a response —I don’t want to pry but I do care.

The responses almost brought me to tears. The struggles, the exhaustion, the frustration, the doubt, and the fear where evidenced in their words. I will share a few anonymized responses.

  • Thank you for caring…I learn so well in person and being in an online setting is causing me unexpected anxiety and I can’t explain why.
  • I am a bit overwhelmed because this is my first semester at a University while working full time. But that’s what I signed up for so I’m working through it. Personally I’m worse just because I don’t have any time to do anything other than work and do my class work. I’m stretched a little thin at the moment
  • As a person who learns the best seeing, hearing, and touching the materials, learning remotely is a bit harsh on me right now. …..doing it online just making me feel less inspired and motivated because even though my mind can be active my body isn’t.
  • Poorly. And while I’m willing to share this particular information in this instance, please don’t ask in the future.
  • I just started a new job and I’m trying to get into the swing of things online. I am good, but it is hard.
  • I am having a pretty rough time this quarter if i’m being honest. As a black female living in america I am struggling everyday to find hope and feel welcomed in a country where there is so much hate and i am told daily that my black life does not matter. As a caregiver for my grandparents I find myself often choosing to use the extra time in my day to care for them or myself and I feel guilty when I choose caring for myself. As a student who is fully online I am struggling to find the motivation to study everyday for long periods of time and struggling to be with my devices.
  • Life’s weird. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m gonna do with life, and the plague sucks, but at the same time I can still talk to people over the phone and play way to much video games with the old friends from high school.
  • honestly I’m feeling a little like I’m drowning in the amount of course work i have this quarter with varying due dates.
  • I just feel like everything that could go wrong is totally going wrong and it is very overwhelming. I just feel like I need to take 17 steps backward.
  • If I stick to it I will be fine.
  • Remote learning definitely takes a toll on the motivation to do anything in class. However, we have no choice but to live with it, so I might as well make most with what I have.
  • With all the new surrounding covid19, presidential election, online courses, and being a freshman in college  I will admit that all these thing are weighing me down a bit and stressing me out.
  • Everything is terrible but it’s okay I guess, Honestly, I feel like the workload for this quarter, in general, has been way heavier than usual despite everything being remote, and I feel like teachers aren’t accounting for their student’s having stuff to do outside of school. Personally, I’ve been stuck doing homework literally all day every day for the past few days so I am slowly losing brain cells.

I see resilience, growth mind-sets, and Tacoma grit. They have put into words, many of the same doubts and emotions with which I am struggling. Life shouldn’t have to feel this challenging for any of us. But it does. And we are all struggling.

It is my privlege to work with these amazing students. May we survive and thrive together.

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.

5 thoughts on “October 30 Day 236. “Everything is Terrible But I Guess That’s Okay”

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