I was on spring break when my college’s president informed professors we’d be teaching online for the rest of the semester. I went to campus one day over break to start to move my classes online and to grab the ungraded student work I had collected before break. I figured I’d be able to get back onto campus in a few weeks.
After about 3 weeks, I started worrying about my plants. I watered them before break, but I wasn’t sure how many weeks they’d last near the heat vent in my dry-aired office. I thought about asking my dean if I could stop by to pick them up, but admin was being strict about staying out of the building, so I decided to skip it. The plans would last another week or so, wouldn’t they?
It had been 5 full weeks since I had been on campus when the president said employees would be allowed to pick up materials from our offices. We were asked to wear masks, remain 6 feet apart from others, sign into security, stay 30 minutes or less, and pull off blue tape that marked which offices had been cleaned. Removing the blue tape showed which offices would need to be cleaned again.
I got to school around 9:30 that morning, and all was eerily quiet. I walked upstairs, past the counseling center, the food pantry for students in need, and a study area, to my office. It was kind of sad not seeing any students around.
When I opened my office door, my eyes went immediately to the shelf above the heat vents. My plants were still alive! They are hearty little things. I watered them immediately.
I also picked up some binders and my “Self-Empathy Dance” cards that I usually use with the students taking my developmental education class. One reason I’m having a hard time teaching that group online is that I try to do a lot of kinesthetic (physical) learning. The Self-Empathy Dance cards are one such activity; students take steps from one card to the next as they talk through the self-empathy process. I grabbed them because I figured I may want to refer to the cards when I plan for next semester.
I picked up the snacks I had for myself and students, the lipstick I wear to class (I want to look put together), and some alcohol wipes I use to periodically clean my office phone and keyboard. Then I came to the books.
Most of the books at my office are for reference. I use online materials to teach, so I don’t have textbooks for classes. Since I was at school, I grabbed the books that most inform my teaching–just in case I had to look something up–or really more for the comfort of knowing that I have solid theory to back up my practice.
I packed everything into my rolley-cart, tried to touch as little as possible as I moved through the halls and signed out through security. I didn’t have any blue tape on my office door, so I guess my office hadn’t been cleaned yet.
I’m glad I went to pick up the materials I did. I wondered a little bit about when we’ll be let into the building again, and what will have changed. What will it be like to teach face-to-face again? How will students feel to come back? Will we have to work through a layer of fear before getting into the content? Time will tell.
For now, though, my plants are happy at home.
Peace Out (and In),
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