I don’t even know where to start. In addition to all of the work I am doing to move my courses to an online/distance-learning delivery and support my students (not to mention supporting my family and trying to take care of myself), I’m also worried what this whole situation means for my evaluation and promotion. I don’t really want to dive into the internet with my questions, though, because all of that information can be overwhelming. Any words of reassurance for me?
Pushing through the Pandemic
Dear Pushing through the Pandemic,
We hear you. Things feel pretty overwhelming right now, but the one thing that has provided me (Molly) comfort is just how communal and generous our professional community has been in pulling together to support each other. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so this month, we want to share with you just a few favorite resources and tips.
First, please adjust your expectations for the remainder of your term. This is an unusual and unprecedented experience for most of us, and the old rules just don’t apply. Pare back the moving parts of your course, and return to the basics of your learning outcomes – how can you help your students achieve these outcomes while minimizing stress and uncertainty? A decent plan communicated clearly and soon will likely be far more valuable to your students than a perfect but complex plan communicated next week. I know this sounds hard to the perfectionists amongst us, but consider the benefits of a satisficing mindset over a maximizing one.
Rebecca Barrett-Fox urges us to “Please do a bad job of putting your courses online,” a reminder that these are extraordinary times and we’re all dealing with a lot. Good enough is good enough. Finally, the mid-term adjustments we are making now are NOT the same as moving a course to a fully online version, so take any online teaching advice with a grain of salt. For those of our colleagues on the quarter system, this general advice still holds – you have only had a couple of weeks (at most) to shift your Spring quarter plans to an online format, whereas planning a fully-online course may take months. Do your best for your students, for sure, but be mindful of what you can reasonably expect to accomplish with so little lead time.
Second, limit your information gathering to colleagues in your department, your university, and your domain. Every field has different needs and norms, and getting sucked into an argument about the best way to teach public speaking online if you are not, in fact, teaching public speaking may not be the best use of your time and emotional energy. Further, your department or unit may have specific technologies they require, and if so, that is one fewer choice you have to make! If you can, find a colleague or two who you know have similar teaching styles and philosophies as you, and work together to make a game plan or create resources (e.g., a how-to document on how to use Bb Collaborate works for everyone using the same LMS at the same institution!). Here are just a few resources that have come together in the last couple of weeks to support you through this time.
Pinned post in STP Facebook group compiling numerous resources. This group is amazing but a little unwieldy sometimes - I strongly recommend using the search function to narrow down the posts you sift through!
Google Spreadsheet tracking psychology faculty willing to swap online lectures or guest lecture if the instructor is unavailable due to illness or caregiving. Includes undergrad/grad level, areas/topics of expertise, and contact info.
Google Spreadsheet tracking lecture videos made by psychology colleagues.
· http://www.amazingeducationalresources.com/A massive list of education companies providing FREE subscriptions due to school closures. Includes resources aimed at all levels of education. I don’t recommend reading the whole thing, but you can search the name of a specific app you are interested in. Useful for your own classes, but also for any kiddos in your family!
Third, as you note, this term will eventually be over, but those of us who are formally reviewed (i.e., annual progress, probationary/tenure/ continuing status, regular student evaluations of teaching, contract renewal, etc.) might be worried about how your choices now will affect your reviews. We cannot answer this for each of you, of course, but we urge you to contact your chair, dean, or union about specific policies for your school. Here are two spreadsheets tracking administrative responses and policy changes – if your employer is not on here, then there is lots of precedent to provide support for any motions submitted to your leadership!
Google Spreadsheet tracking university administrative responses, including switching to pass/fail grading, adjustments to faculty review criteria, extensions to tenure/review clock, and **removal or adjustment of student evaluations of teaching for Winter/Spring 2020.
Google Spreadsheet tracking policies specific to tenure/review clock extensions, including sources of statements.
Don’t forget: Work accepted for presentation at a conference still counts! Here are APA’s guidelines on references for cancelled conference presentations.
Finally, take care of yourselves. This is not a sprint, and we cannot continue to support our students, families, and each other if we are not supporting ourselves as well. There are tons of lists and resources out there for self-care in addition to hobbies and activities, but here are just a couple to start with (note: the ECP committee benefits in no way by sharing these resources, except by having happy and healthy colleagues)
Down Dog is offering free subscriptions for everyone until April 1, and for teachers AND students until July 1 (K-12 AND college). Access online practices in yoga, barre, HIIT, and general fitness.
Headspace is offering additional free meditation tracks for everyone, plus additional resources for businesses, educators, and healthcare professionals.
Meditations, Q&As with mental health experts, random internet things to occupy yourself, and more.
· When you’re having a hard time, try to remember all of the wonderful examples of the human spirit we have already seen displayed in these extraordinary times.
Sending you warm, healthy, and sanitized thoughts (and wash your hands!). This is hard, for sure, but you’re not in this alone.
Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee