November 10 Day 612: Have You Asked? The Answer(s) Might Surprise You.

I am forever impressed by the grit and perseverance of my students. In a reflection following the oral assessment, I asked how they were doing—both numerically and free response.

The numerical range was -5 to 5 where

  • 5=absolutely fantastic
  • 0=meh
  • -5= truly terrible.

The average was 1.2–so more positive than the Autumn 2020 score of 0.9. But I haven’t checked for statistical significance.

From their free responses, it is clear, many are still struggling. Here are their own words:

  • Thank you for asking, Professor….For me, the quarter is getting tough because…
  • I’m blessed thanks to god.
  • I’ve had a ton of school work to do this quarter. Even though I’m not procrastinating on it, it feels really difficult to keep up sometimes.
  • Very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, tired.
  • Being in-person class help me go back into a school setting. But lockdown really put down my productivity and I’m still working to get back into my pre-pandemic mentality.
  • Going through a lot, but there’s reason to hope things will be better. Just moving forward through each day.
  • Tomorrow marks one year of my sister passing away and this is my first thanksgiving and Christmas without my grandfather, so there are going to be some tough days ahead of me.
  • My anxiety has spiked since being back to in-person classes. I find it hard to get up and go to classes sometimes but I force myself to and end up realizing it’s not so bad… It’s just a battle everyday to understand what I’m doing will pay off in the end. I have a lot on my plate with work as well and I’m just barely trying to keep afloat.
  • My Dad … is alright and will recover with time, but will be at a nursing facility for the foreseeable future.  I have a good support system of family and friends and am doing okay overall, but time management is always a sore spot.
  • This quarter has been crazy for me. I’m getting divorced, so I’ve just been trying to tread water.
  • Things have been super hard for a while now, and it’s hard keeping it all together, but I will continue to do my best whenever I can. 
  • This is my first year in university, and the pace is a lot faster than community college. …I’m starting to develop imposter syndrome. Often times after getting a less than par grade on an assignment (in all my classes) I begin to fill my head with doubt. “Maybe I’m not cut out for this”, ” I’ll never amount to anything great in my life”, “I’ll falling behind to far to pull myself up”. Unfortunately, these thought have increased significantly since arriving at university. I think I’ll be ok, I just need to “do more stuff”.
  • Things are hectic. …so just keep swimming.
  • I’m doing okay but I’m just struggling to balance…
  • Not too bad, not too great

We never really know what anyone is facing. Despite our best efforts, life is still not normal. Some are struggling more than others. Let us pledge to be gentle with one another. Let us not rush back to what we perceive as “normal.” Now is the time for continued empathy and grace.

Image of worry dolls available from Fair Trade Winds.

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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