Perks of Teaching during a Pandemic
1. Hundreds of thousands dead, a tanking economy—a person can get to feeling blue. But at the university where I’m a lecturer, our Faculty Senate Chair is ON IT. He totally overhauls my summer doldrums with an email in early August instructively titled: Attitude of Gratitude.
2. His next email, sent after the biggest university in our system moves online due to multiple COVID clusters, announces our own university’s still-refusal to do so with a subject line of cheeky optimism: Let’s See How This Goes.
3. By this time, I’ve spent 200+ hours on summer trainings, Zoom orientations, and Canvas prep without receiving a paycheck. To me, this shows my employer’s faith in my finances. They see me as someone with a hefty bank account, and you know what? That feels good.
4. On my first day of teaching, my son’s daycare suspends operations due to a COVID outbreak. Good thing I’m already teaching most of my classes online. I spend my lunch hour sprinting in circles around the house in a futile attempt to tire him out. Two hundred calories burned before lunchtime; nothing like exercise, y’all.
5. The English department head tells us via Zoom that the non-tenured, non-permanent faculty is the lifeblood of the university. You’re champs, he says, jaw wobbling. It’s nice to feel appreciated.
6. Teaching out of my coat closet—this perk I could never have predicted. The lack of vents presents a small HVAC problem, but I refer to the sweat rolling down my cheeks as my “glow.” You see, I remind my students, it’s all in the rhetoric. Besides, when I finish teaching and step outside, WOW! Has ordinary ninety-degree humidity ever felt this good?
7. In the same Zoom meeting, the director of the College Writing program asks us about our first week of teaching, then interrupts herself to wonder whether she’s allowed to drink on-screen. The chat fills with cocktail recommendations. Screw checking in. I love my bosses; they tell it like it is.
8. Back in the coat closet, I teach my students the time-honored skill of multi-tasking by asking them to wait, again and again, while I run to tell Netflix that yes, I’m still watching Dinotrux. Is this stressful? Here’s a better question: Does it give my students a glimpse into the multi-faceted life of a parent and professional? Hell, yes! #Supermom.
9. With all this inspiration, my POV example sentences are more authentic than ever. “I knew I’d get in trouble for throwing milk on the carpet while Mommy was teaching.” “You knew you’d get in trouble for throwing milk on the carpet while Mommy was teaching…”
10. And when the Faculty Senate Chair’s third and inevitable email comes—URGENT: Moving All Courses Online—all that POV practice comes in handy. Why school close? my son asks, and while I’m not sure if he’s talking about his school right now or mine, I’m pretty sure of my answer. Well, buddy, everybody knew we’d get in trouble if we opened up. But we did it anyway.