Online Teaching Update: The Easiest I Can Make It

It’s the last week of class at Penn State. What a journey it’s been to transition to online teaching! What a journey to grow alongside these students into a new way of living and learning! I will remember this time always.

I woke up thinking about how, normally, things should feel harder in a residential classroom when there’s not a pandemic happening. Semesters should normally rise to a crescendo towards difficulty. The peer workshops become more vital and directed and the expectations of complexity become higher. Hard. Hard. Hard.

But we’re in a COVID-19 world where students feel more drained, more confused, and more uncertain. Their job searches have fallen apart. Their secured internships have dissolved. Their study abroad plans have been canceled. And I feel as drained as ever. It’s not the time to add more work to their lives or mine. It’s a time to streamline, unburden, and focus on a few key writing skills. I’ve learned to ask what’s absolutely necessarily. I toss out the rest.

(For my own life, this: streamlined, unburdened, focused. I ask what’s necessary today. I can say no to everything else. I go back to my theme of Jesus teaching me the easy and light path.)

Easy doesn’t mean it’s not good. Easy doesn’t mean it’s not meaningful or rich. Easy doesn’t mean we’ve given up. Easy also doesn’t mean we aren’t still working hard. It means we are working better. Easy means we release some pressure. We let some air out of the balloon that’s our stressful lives.

So this week, we write. We don’t meet on Zoom and write that day instead. We come to online class to celebrate and cheer for our favorite writing we accomplished during the semester. It should feel easy. It should feel fun.

So I keep asking: How easy can I make this for you? Let me! Unburden yourself! And I feel like the Lord asks me the same thing each new day.

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