I write just three days out from submitting grades for the Spring 2021 semester – the end to an incredible 15 months of teaching and learning. And for the first time since March 2020, I returned to campus. I am now fully engaged in this transition to my role as director of faculty development and contemplating this very moment – this very opportunity.
Since my last dispatch, I have been blogging on the center’s internal blog about end-of-semester engagement techniques, the promotion of the center’s summer activities, and tips on rethinking assessments. I have spent the last few months co-facilitating a virtual, but wildly rewarding, mentoring program for new faculty and instructors, as well working along-side the outgoing to director to absorb as much of their wisdom and experience.
I also chair the advisory body to our Center, and in closing the term I was entrusted to make some big moves – including re-envisioning and re-writing the only grant program offered through the Center to promote faculty partnerships in teaching and learning.
And there was teaching happening, too.
Yet throughout all of this – managed from my kitchen counter due to the pandemic displacements – there has been this laser-like focus on the future – both for me as director and the Center itself. This was by far my most challenging and difficult year in higher education – even more than in 2010, my first year on faculty teaching all new preps and living 7 hours away from my life partner.
But it was also an empowering semester. I learned so much about myself, about my teaching, about the resilience of students, and the contributions and areas of growth of myself and my peers. I am doing everything I can to remember those moments because, to me, they scream of grace. Grace for my students, grace for my peers, grace for my supervisors, and grace for myself.
Nothing was perfect about this pandemic in high education; no one ordered it up, and no one crushed it in their response – I know I did not! But the question is now how do we move on from here? How do we use these semesters and their layered teachable moments, and move forward (and move up) from here? Here is asking that I (we) newly develop with grace.