December 13 Day 645: Interview Marathon Part 1

I spent 7 hours (plus a few breaks) administering interviews for individual final oral assessments today. I’m halfway done and will complete the rest in another marathon session tomorrow.

Every term has one or two students that just give up. The stress and pressure from school, family, and work take their toll. Today, I felt like things are worse this quarter than ever before. Worse even than the previous (fully remote) academic year.

How can this be? Shouldn’t things be getting better?

Maybe that is the problem. People have been living through an extended trauma. No amount of magical thinking can repair the damage just because we are meeting in-person for classes. The stress, pressures, and anxieties are still there.

What really hit home today was that the well-prepared students were generally the ones that attended class, worked well on group assignments, and became part of a supportive class community. The less prepared students were struggling with more than content. In particular, they were more isolated with fewer support systems. They were dealing with overcoming their trauma alone.

Because of COVID classroom practices, I limited mixing people into different working groups for health and safety reasons. For emotional and community support, I think that is a mistake. I need more mixing though random groups.

How can I facilitate building community in-person in a responsible and safe manner? I need to rethink group work for next term.

Photo: In the Teaching & Learning Center where I conduct all the in-person interviews.

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.

3 thoughts on “December 13 Day 645: Interview Marathon Part 1

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