Why was teaching today harder than two weeks ago?

Does it feel like you should have this figured out by now? That because you’ve made the decisions about how to teach remotely and had a few weeks of it behind you, it should be getting easier?

But, somehow, it’s not?

That’s okay. It’s not easier for a lot of reasons. Here are a few:

  • You didn’t get any rest or rejuvenation over spring break, nor did you get any long-term projects completed.
  • You miss parts of your job that aren’t COVID-related. Like research or reading or being in the lab or in the field.
  • You might be sleeping terribly.
  • We had some major holidays. Even if you don’t celebrate Easter or Passover, the reminder that time is somehow moving on is disorienting because it feels like we are living the same day over and over. We are starting to see that sadness that comes as events that otherwise mark our lives in positive ways–planting our gardens, cheering on our teenagers as they go to prom, going to commencement, and more–are done differently this year if they are done at all.
  • If you have children in your home, you may not be getting to be the parent you want to be, even as your children have unique needs right now.
  • Even if you are currently employed, you know many people who are running out of money, and we have no reason to believe that government aid is coming.
  • You anticipate cuts to higher ed budgets, which means job losses. Even if yours is secure, you worry that your friends’ and colleagues’ jobs might not be.
  • You might be watching our friends and neighbors endanger themselves by refusing to adhere to stay-at-home orders or practice safe physical distancing when they must go in public. You might be angry at them.
  • What has always been true about America–the inequality that is foundational to our nation–is being revealed in ever clearer ways. For some of us, this challenges our very notions of who we are as a nation.

I’m not saying this to worry you and, obviously, this list doesn’t contain any of the worries unique to you (unique but never really just yours because there are always people to help you carry them).

I am saying this to remind you that, even if you have your remote teaching figured out for the remaining weeks of the semester, it’s okay if implementing your plan feels harder than it did a few weeks ago. If that prompts you to lighten the rest of your semester, that’s okay, too.

melancholy paintings gentileschi-w636-h600

Above, Artesmisia Gentileschi’s Mary Magdalene as Melancholy (1625-1626) shows Mary Magdelene wearing a beautiful dress that has fallen off her shoulder. She sits in an ornate wooden chair, her head propped on her elbow, which rests on the chair’s arm, either asleep or nearly so.

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