February 12 Day 341: Friday Melt

I was hoping for snow last night. Not because I was wishing for a snow day —our new found technical competence will make that unlikely unless the internet is down—but because there is something magical about a pristine sound-dulling blanket of snow. Unfortunately the flakes were small and the accumulation in Tacoma was minimal. It quickly melted during the morning hours.

In addition to snow melt, today also saw evidence of emotional melt. Discussions at the faculty meeting confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the work to remotely teach students with flexibility and compassion while trying to maintain standards and promote ethical conduct is exhausting. People are tired. Beyond tired. It is not just one or two people who are overtaxed—it is everyone.

Why are we working so hard? Is it ever going to be recognized or rewarded?

Probably not. Faculty have sacrificed their own scholarly productivity to rise to the challenge of the pandemic, to learn new skills, to adapt to a virtual setting, to educate the students without interruption. The reward? “You can delay your promotion clock no questions asked.” “We’ll put a letter in your file to explain the circumstances.” I don’t think that is enough. Perhaps I should just shut up and be grateful for the regular employment.

Based on the title of the blog post, UW Tacoma is 341 days into remote teaching. AY 2020-21 started 135 days ago and has 124 days until summer. There is still a long haul ahead. I loved my colleague Cheryl Greengrove’s recommendation to “find a COVID buddy.” By that she meant someone to check-in with and be mutually supportive throughout this adventure. It’s great advice and I am lucky to already have a few.

Finally, when my Friday commitments were completed, my energy melted away. All I wanted to do was snuggle under a warm blanket and close my eyes. It was 4:30 in the afternoon.

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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