Maggie Miller, Communication Intern

Silver Linings in Remote Teaching and Learning

Dear Faculty,

This article was written by Maggie Miller, a communication intern for The Wheel. Maggie Miller is a senior at UC Davis studying Human Development and Psychology. She is interested in emotions and is committed to supporting children and adolescents as they heal from trauma. She will graduate in June and plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Child Psychology.

The transition to remote teaching and learning has come with challenges: technical difficulties, financial instability, and social and emotional turmoil that many have experienced in response to the pandemic have created obstacles around which we must navigate to effectively learn and teach. Although we may look forward to saying a firm goodbye to full-time Zoom University, we have learned lessons about what should be maintained in the future. 

  • Compassion
  • Accessibility
  • Communication and Unity 

Compassion 

Students, like faculty, have complicated lives. Even when there isn’t a global pandemic happening, students must deal with many stressful factors. Trying to manage club memberships, jobs, finances, food, family matters, friendship drama, bus schedules and the goal of sleeping “eight hours a night” can take its toll on anyone. On top of that, we’ve got a full college course load! 

During this remote quarter, my professors are incredibly compassionate and understanding. Plenty of time is allotted for the completion of work, and professors have been checking in consistently and earnestly to make sure we’re doing all right. As second year Community and Regional Development (CRD) student Colleen Cruz shares, “Classes with accommodating and considerate professors help me stay the most motivated because I feel like they want to see their students learn.” 

This does not mean that the margins are undefined: boundaries are essential to success in college. Deadlines, due dates, exams, and essays are all part of the learning process, and are necessary to ensure studying takes place. 

In her Creative Writing: Nonfiction class, Professor Tess Taylor simply says “come try, communicate. If you can’t come, try and also communicate. If you can’t come and you (for some reason) also are having a very tough time, please communicate…I cannot help you if you do not come, do not try, and do not communicate. Grading is based on that.” Professor Taylor prioritizes the best interests of students while outlining the essential components they must adhere to in order to learn and pass the class. Clearly Professor Taylor wants to work with her students, not against them. Kindness and boundaries beget success.

Accessibility

Synchronous lectures are always helpful. Always. In speaking with some fellow students, I discovered that synchronous livestream lectures, as well as Zoom office hours, offer the best opportunities for remote learning.  In making their content available online after live classes, instructors make their content accessible to far more students. With the ability to pause, slow down, and rewatch tricky parts of a lecture, students can better feel like agents of their own learning. Having access to captioned lecture recordings removes the unnecessary angst at having to miss a class because of a missed bus, a family emergency, or an exhausting all-nighter. 

Much of the time, coming to class is essential to accumulate participation points, take notes, and experience the collective engagement with the group of students they are learning among. Posting lectures online will not detract from, but instead enhance, students’ ability to learn.  

Communication and Unity

Luckily, everyone has been nudged (albeit rather forcefully) into figuring out how to use instructional technologies more broadly and effectively. Students and faculty alike have become more familiar with how to communicate effectively and adequately online. Working together with determination, we are doing the best we can with what we have.

In sum

  • Offering flexibility in grading and assignments helps students feel more cared for 
  • A student-centered teaching approach works best. Accessibility should be held in the highest regard.
  • Listen to your students. They know what they need! 
  • We are all here to keep growing and supporting one another. 

Neither students nor faculty are immune to the stresses of life. When UC Davis inevitably opens its classroom doors to all students once more, may these silver linings inform all faculty and student interactions at UC Davis.

 

Post Author: Alexandria Rockey

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