The first Monday of the Spring quarter at DePaul was yesterday, and with that my research leave came to an end. It was a productive leave, and given the pandemic facing the world right now, incredibly well-timed. I managed to visit New Zealand and gather enough research data that it will take us the rest of 2020, if not beyond, to analyze and write about it. And I did all of this just weeks before the world shut down, making me feel that I expended all of my luck for 2020.

Before the extent of the pandemic became clear I was excited about getting back to the classroom and my students. I love teaching, and I get an energy from it unlike anything else in my life. So I was disappointed when it became clear that the Spring quarter would be done remotely. I’ve done online classes before and been very happy about the experience, but those classes were always constructed thoughtfully and with loads of planning and resources behind them. I could also include some in-person elements when I deemed them to be important for the learning goals of the class. Teaching under the current circumstances is instead a forced emergency, and unlike any online class I’ve created before, something that others have written about more eloquently than I could. That said, I would rather teach under these circumstances than not teach at all, so I approached the start of the quarter as positively as I could. I tried to use as many best practices from previous online courses as I could in my emergency adaptations and moved forward.

I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised after the first day to discover the following things:

  • Those first-day jitters? They’re still there even (especially?) when you’re teaching synchronously online.
  • Students are still fun to interact with, even when you can only hear their voices.
  • It’s likely going to be harder to get to know my students, but not impossible. Zoom conveys more information than you might expect. And, yes, I could have probably done without seeing that unmade bed behind one of my students, but it’s no worse than pjs/bed-head/unshaven faces/etc. that I sometimes see in my physical classes.
  • I love teaching, a lot. Even remotely under terrible circumstances.