LFH: Days 11 & 12
I missed writing up Day 11 yesterday because I was busy making PowerPoints for my classes. I should have done that on Tuesday, which is what I’d promised the students, but Tuesday I was busy putting out administrative fires and holding Zoom meetings. So here’s a recap of both days, what I can remember.
The administrative stuff is winding down a little, but we still have upcoming faculty meetings that we have to prepare materials for. As part of the department’s governance this semester I’m included in a bunch of stuff that in ordinary times would have been mostly routine but is now more work. On top of that we’re still trying to find solutions for students whose study abroad programs ended abruptly. Luckily it’s a subset of the overall population of study-abroad students, but each one takes work. Then there’s the book chapter I completely forgot I had to finish revising this past week, so that was another round of emails with my extremely understanding editor who was mostly worried when he hadn’t heard from me. And so on.
I know I did some other stuff on Tuesday but I can’t remember what it was. On to Wednesday: up early to finish the slides for my classes, which turned out better than I was afraid they would. I had technical glitches in the first class (the whole screen-share while seeing the chat window thing, plus my microphone and earbuds not working well together on the Surface Go). But we eventually got those problem straightened out and had a decent class, with less than usual interaction but more than none. We went the whole class time and then I had 35 minutes to catch my breath before a committee meeting which I had to leave after an hour because I had to teach my afternoon class.
That class went really well, with plenty of interaction and some very good discussions. I noticed that on both teaching days the classes that started with technical difficulties didn’t rebound as well as the classes that went smoothly from the beginning. Which is not surprising, I guess. Also, the material in yesterday afternoon’s Privacy class was more engaging, so that probably affected it.
The differences in the various Zoom platforms have surprised me, although I suppose they shouldn’t. I do them via university accounts so that limits some of my options (e.g., if someone sends me a password-locked meeting invitation, I can’t use the Chrome extension app because it doesn’t have a place to enter the password). If I’m talking to one or two people, then it doesn’t really matter which one I’m on, but in a meeting it can make a difference. In the browser version I didn’t have the raised-hand option, for example.
[ETA: I was finally able to download the Linux app for Zoom, and in that app I’m able to pop out the chat window, screen-share, and have the Brady-Bunch gallery all at the same time. I haven’t tried it with a class, but it worked on a test run with TheH. This will be great if it works the way I think it should.]
I finally had lunch after my second class ended at 2:20pm and used it as a chance to have a half-hour break. Then I caught up on email and set up my 4pm meeting with my teaching assistants for the morning class. I finally finished everything about 4:30pm, 11 hours after I started my workday. But I got through the teaching part of the week, and it wasn’t awful! It was better than not awful, even.
The weather has finally turned, with the high temperature reaching the mid-60s and the sun coming out, which of course meant everyone went to the park. Good for them. I haven’t been out except to walk the dogs since Saturday. Thank goodness for dogs. But I plan to get out in the next day or two. I’m sure the lack of exercise exacerbates my stress levels. TheH and I were commenting on how draining it was to teach two classes when you’re just sitting. I never realized that walking around while lecturing and leading discussions was partly a way of burning off nervous energy. My watch reminds me that when I teach my heartrate goes up into the aerobic exercise range, and now I know why. Without the physical release our bodies have to find another way to cope, and we wound up being even more physically exhausted at the end of the two sessions than we are when we’re in physical classrooms.
Since we could grill outside without fear of being rain on we splurged and had steaks for dinner. And wine! It was all delicious. I switched on the classical station on SiriusXM and they were playing Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, which we were lucky enough to hear from beginning to end. It was a good end to a long day.
I’m back in Canada and beginning day 3 of my required 14 days of self-isolation. Unlike Michigan, which was definitely into spring with no snow and early spring flowers in full bloom, New Brunswick is only now starting to thaw out with lots of slush, sad piles of snow still covering the ground.
My trip back consisted of 3 legs and in the day before I left two legs ended up being cancelled and rescheduled, so I was nervous the morning of my trip that something else would happen. But the trip although long, was uneventful. No plane I was on had more than 10 passengers and all the airports (South Bend, Detroit, and Toronto) were quiet and empty — no lines anywhere. The most striking was Toronto — which I think had more employees in it than passengers. At Toronto I was greeted twice by groups of people wearing masks and handing out info on corvid-19. They reminded all passengers that they needed to self-isolate for 14 days once they reached their home destination.
Most of my university friends are busily teaching and working from home and doing many video conferencing meetings — you definitely not alone in that. The university has asked everyone here to use MS teams (which the university has a full support package for) rather than Zoom because there have just been too many problems around supporting Zoom.
One of my friends is planning a social isolation party for the weekend — we all get on MS teams at a set time and check in. It ought to be interesting.
Thanks for updating us, Kathryn, and thank goodness you made it home uneventfully. I can imagine the flights and airports must have felt eerie.
I set up Teams for my department, but there are only a couple of us using it, which is too bad because it does seem easier and less glitchy than Zoom.
I have friends doing cocktail hours and virtual parties, but I haven’t gotten on board with that yet, mostly because by the time cocktail hour rolls around I’m either still working or flaked out, exhausted. But there are still weeks to go, so I may check in to one at some point.