This is hard. I’ve got decades of experience teaching face to face, and I’ve got a battery of notes and files to work from, and they’re all more or less useless right now — I have to invest so much time rewriting everything to make it work better in an online format, and further, I’ve got little interactive feedback from the students, so I don’t know if I’m making everything even more incomprehensible. I’m up late, I get up early, all focused on producing useful content, and I fall further and further behind on grading. And I’m alone at home.

I’m miserable. I need a good day of hanging out with spiders and even that is getting neglected for all this class development work that has suddenly been thrown in my lap.

Now we have to think about Fall classes — we’re having a meeting tomorrow to discuss what we’ll do if this situation continues for another six months. I fear it will. Our university has announced that it will announce a decision about Fall classes in June. Our idiot US president wants to pressure everyone to be fully open for business by early May. We’re coping with a disease with a long slow incubation period, so if we rush into business as usual we’re going to get an even bigger second wave, possibly in August, and we’re just going to have to reinvoke the stay-at-home orders again, and I’ll be doing cell biology online.

Unless the ‘rona gets me first. I don’t know which alternative to favor at this point. I suppose at least next semester I’d have a summer to prepare for it, unlike the current nightmare.


  1. says

    My daughter is a high school teacher in a rural area. Some of the kids do not have computer access or decent Internet. The attendance at AP classes is moderately good but the participation in regular chemistry is abysmal.

  2. says

    Yeah, my attendance is at about 70% right now. Not great. But I’m trying to be sympathetic, ’cause I know many of these young people are as frustrated as I am.

  3. says

    Nightmare indeed. With 15 seconds of “training” for the abrupt transition, I have devolved from skilled in-person instructor to thoroughly mediocre online teacher. And my students, who originally signed up for classroom instruction and did not opt for online classes, aren’t too happy about it either. Participation is especially poor in my algebra class, although my calculus and statistics students are doing a better job of hanging in there. Misery. I know what you’re going through, PZ!

  4. says

    My upper-level genetics students are doing better than previous years, too — but I think that’s largely because I’m being extremely gentle on the exams, because I don’t know well they’re absorbing the material. It’s hard to know when you can’t routinely have students solve problems on the whiteboard right in front of you.

  5. raven says

    Our university has announced that it will announce a decision about Fall classes in June.

    This is spooky.
    Like everyone, I’m wondering how long this lockdown/slowdown is going to go on.

    Everyone is hurting one way or another.
    We are entering the Second Great Recession in a decade
    Ironically even health care workers are getting laid off by the tens of thousands.
    They stopped all nonessential services to clear the hospitals for Covid-19 patients.
    Plus everyone is locked down at home and afraid to go any where except absolutely necessary.

    They canceled Burning Man which was scheduled for September 7, 2020.
    It looks like the summer concert and festival season is gone for 2020.
    Those were a huge part of why I like summer so much.

    To answer my own question, I don’t have any idea and neither does anyone else at this point.

  6. Sean Boyd says

    It makes tutoring centers more crucial. Students are able get some interaction with a guide to go along with the online resources a professor can provide. In the case of the tutoring center I work at, though, there are a few extra challenges. We have fewer tutors this quarter (several did not want to try and work online). We’ve spread our hours out (for now) because we’re still uncertain what times of day will be most active. And tutoring online takes longer than in person, especially if a student does not have the latest in technology (like a Surface Pro) that makes it easier for them to have a more active role in the discussion. One student I worked with had a very old computer that couldn’t handle both Zoom and the online HW software…they ended up Zooming in on their cellphone, then aiming the phone’s camera at the computer monitor. I feel so bad for them. And for the professors as well…when you have to prep three classes in a completely foreign fashion, and you have only two or three weeks to do so (as ours did), it’s impossible to put a quality product out there.

  7. hillaryrettig says

    3 colleges here in town and a lot of faculty are going through what you’re going through, PZ. Isolation, online teaching, etc., are all taking a toll.

  8. says

    Well, Germany is doing moderately fine, getting R <1, and now we have some fuckers from the “Academy of Sciences Leopoldina” advising the government to reopen schools quickly.
    They have an average age of 60+, more people called “Thomas” than women, more theologists that virologists and their proposals are ludicrous.
    We’re actually supposed to start with the younger kids, but, of course, under strict hygiene. Class size of max 15 kids, all on separate tables, no touching, hand washing before and after breaks. How many sinks do they think we have? Or rooms. Or teachers? Oh, and everybody should wear masks. All in all it reminds me of Cinderella’s stepmum: set out tasks that are impossible to do and then blame people for not completing them.
    What i find the worst is that now usually sensible people take the completely wrong turn in discussing how this still burdens parents, overwhelmingly mothers, of younger kids because daycares should stay closed. This is technically true and normally I’d absolutely agree, but this whole discussion is fucking madness.
    I guess their appreciation for teachers ended quickly and now they’re all keen on getting us killed.

    Apart from that: yeah, i worry about “my” kids, about their wellbeing. We can’t do online classes, because not all kids have internet access and devices. In some cases we sent out worksheets by mail.

  9. says

    But apparently we still have some sane politicians, so most schools will stay closed for at least another 3 weeks. Because I really don’t want to go shopping for black, or be the person in the urn.

  10. says

    I look forward to the coming constitutional crisis that Trump is probably going to trigger when he tries to order say Newsom to re-open CA around May 1st and Newsom tells Trump to go fuck himself.

  11. blf says

    Mike Smith@11, I’d suggest the “Constitutional crisis” would be when — perhaps more so than if — impeached quack hair furor shuts down (adjourns) Congress (Article 2, Section 3 — which is exceptionally vague (in my reading)), which has never been done before. Teh eejit is apparently now threatening to do just that.