February 7 Day 336: Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends, Once More

For many warriors of the classroom coronavirus battlefield, Spring semester is about to commence. Whether you are in person, hybrid, or remote, whether you started 5 weeks ago or will do so this week, you might be facing the coming work with a little trepidation.

Remember, you are not alone. Despite the isolation, despite the distance, we are experiencing this pandemic together—as mathematicians, as teachers, as learners, as humans. Even though there are several vaccines that will eventually bring this adventure to a conclusion, it is still impossible to say when life will return to anything resembling normal. I try to focus on what I can do in the present to improve my situation.

I’ve been participating in resiliency training. It has given me permission to take moments during the day to focus on breathing, reflection, and mindfulness. I am building a toolkit to deal with stress and anxiety. And it helps me to forgive myself for the things that I “should have done” (like exercise, laundry, grading, or cooking.)

It’s OK to not be OK. We each have different challenges. Maybe you are struggling…

…to focus
…with technology
…to build community
…to wear your mask
…with emotions
…with relationships
…with responsibilities
…to meet deadlines
…with health
…with finances
…with isolation
or any combination of the above.

I consider myself an eternal optimist and have an atypically cheery demeanor, but sometimes that is a lie—a facade I use to convince myself that everything is fine. But everything is not fine, and we shouldn’t have to pretend that it is. Instead let’s try to be our authentic selves while taking time to appreciate something positive everyday—-whether a beautiful sunrise, a human interaction, or a well-solved problem.

We are still making it up as we go along. Anybody that tries to convince you they have the pandemic classroom all figured out is selling you something. If what you tried previously worked for you and your students, keep doing that regardless of what the experts say. If you want to incorporate new active strategies or new technology tools, go ahead. Just be kind to yourself and your students. New methods should be selected purposefully to address concerns or improve learning outcomes.

Your efforts are appreciated. It’s hard to tell when facing a zoom screen full of featureless squares, but your hard work is noticed and appreciated. You provide predictability in an unpredictable world. You are a source of logic and reason and common sense. In a society that is quick to criticize and slow to praise, you probably don’t hear enough thanks for the work you do. So thank you.

Sometimes it feels like this ordeal is an endless conflict and we are the foot soldiers being directed through the gap in the wall. Let us hold the line together and return triumphant.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

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.

2 thoughts on “February 7 Day 336: Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends, Once More

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