Sustainable Teaching: An Update

After realizing the exhaustion of teaching virtually, I’ve learned some things. I’m too tired, and I don’t know why. As my wise friend stated yesterday, online instruction involves all the work and intensity of teaching without the joys of in-person relating. It’s not rewarding in the same way for some reason. It’s a shadow of the real joy of being together. I don’t know how to explain it well.

And it’s not sustainable. As I managed the stress of a poor internet connection and students with accessibility issues on Monday, I realized that this just isn’t going to be my best work ever. I’m going to have to move more discussions online and learn how to teach from written feedback and guided discussion forums. I’m going to have to serve students differently without the joyful rapport of the classroom and the real-time flow of discussions where nobody worries about unmuting their microphones. The lag time bothers everyone. I’m going to have to work in more sustainable ways.

My friend told me that the exhaustion we all feel is because we all now how another full-time job: protecting our families and communities from COVID-19. Our real jobs are keeping people healthy, managing our homes, and preparing for an unseen future.

I wish I had better news to report. I wish I wasn’t dreading Zoom calls or sad that class doesn’t feel the same. But the good news here–the flair moment–is that it’s wonderful to learn what’s not working. It’s wonderful to think about sustainability, not just as an educator, but as a wife, mother, and friend. What can we change? What can we do less of or more of? With one month left to teach my course content, I’m looking for ways to breathe life into my course, to bless students with rich material, and to enjoy teaching online more. And living with flair means it’s sustainable.

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