As we face another month of social distancing, online learning, and the realities imposed upon us by Covid-19, I am wondering how we might document our days—and capture what we are learning so that we will remember insights, perspective shifts, and innovations when we are once again teaching in our “normal” classroom settings.
There are some national efforts to document the impact of Coronavirus, including the WAC Clearinghouse’s Coronavirus Story Archive. The Conference on College Composition and Communication asked designated “documentarians” to keep daily diaries of their work during the scheduled convention in March, even though the event in Milwaukee was canceled. They will be sharing these reflections in various ways in the coming months. At an institutional and state level, I’ve seen several initiatives to share resources and solve problems—and to recognize the unexpected benefits found in novel platforms, media, and cross-disciplinary collaborations.
I hope that each of us as IRW, ALP, developmental, or FYC instructors will find a way to preserve our virtual classroom experiences as well—how we connect with students, how we manage peer review, what seems to be most challenging, and where we are discovering unanticipated success. I know the dedication and determination of my colleagues, and I suspect we will unearth some teaching treasures as we walk through this process; we will want to remember those riches when we are back together with students in shared physical spaces.
I have often told my students that writing involves discovering, making, shaping, and organizing meaning. Composing and arranging, particularly through language, allow us to make sense of the realities we have to confront at any given moment. When unfamiliar realities break over us in successive waves, we may lose footing. Sense-making activities can help us—as teachers and as students—find grounding again.
Whatever your platform for documentation and reflection might be—from paper journals to video logs—I urge you to keep a record of teaching in the time of Coronavirus. We can share our evolving virtual pedagogy along the way, of course, but when all is said and done, I hope we will turn our memories into collaborations, into new research, into innovative ways of teaching ourselves and our students.
How are you recording and reflecting on pedagogy during these days of social distancing? I’d love to hear from you.