Borrow these ideas

Borrow these ideas

There is a lot of brilliance to read right now about teaching for the coming year. So much, in fact, that it can be hard to wade through. We’re all working to figure out how to shift our modes of delivery to include far more asynchronous and online content than we normally have and, hopefully, far less panic than we had during the sudden pivot this spring. And we’re all talking about what we’re thinking. And it is a lot….

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Resilient Design for Remote Teaching and Learning

Resilient Design for Remote Teaching and Learning

Starting in March, my college, like many across the nation, had to require faculty, staff, and students to pivot to remote teaching and learning in response to the public health risks of Covid-19. We were lucky. We had two weeks of warning and some emergency training in online teaching tools and methods. As plenty of people have articulated, what we faculty across the globe were doing was not best practices for online course development, but triage. Some things we did…

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On the necessity of art

On the necessity of art

If the orders to isolate ourselves in our homes have shown us anything in the last few months, it is that human beings turn instinctively to the arts when we feel things deeply. Isolation, depression, and abiding worry cannot go undocumented; our psyches demand both that we express great pain and that we build for ourselves modes of coping that will help us feel less alone. Reading novels and watching dancers and looking at paintings produces pleasure in a world…

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Not just business as usual

Not just business as usual

I’m in week one of remote teaching and learning, after a two-week “break” during which faculty were frenetically retooling classes, and students were trying to figure out what to pack up and where to take it. My campus has been pretty spectacular about offering all kinds of support systems — from a food pantry and emergency grants for students to tenure clock pauses and revised (extremely humane) policies for faculty course evaluations to careful plans executed so as not to…

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Sidewalk poetry

Sidewalk poetry

The city of Saint Paul has stamped poetry into its sidewalks. Scattered throughout neighborhoods in a wide swathe between the capitol and the Mississippi River, the poems turn up sporadically enough that they always feel like surprise gifts underfoot. Each is brief enough to fit into a single sidewalk panel. I have seen dozens of them in the last five years. Some are little riddles, and some offer quiet introspection, and some are just flashes of an image. I cannot…

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Units of measure

Units of measure

Currently the wind is buffeting and whistling around my house, making sounds you would think were unrealistically produced by a special effects department if you heard them in a movie. Rushes and puffs, sustained thin sounds, drawn-out breaths that slowly crescendo, howls, stuttering shhhh-shhhh-shhhhs, weird gusts that can only be described as swirls. I am sitting in my teensy home office on the second floor. It has two windows, one of which looks out over the small roof peak that…

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Traffic Patterns

Traffic Patterns

Sunday, I am out for a walk with a friend and her dog (keeping appropriate social distance on the sidewalk). Nature here is all brown — bare tree branches, last year’s grass dull and matted in every yard, autumn’s leaves plastered wetly along curbs and in flowerbeds. The world sits in that monochrome state between winter and spring, when everything has melted but nothing is quickening. Limbo. As if seasons have been put on pause. And then, it starts to…

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On Sourdough

On Sourdough

Let’s talk about sourdough doughnuts for a minute. I don’t actually know the first thing about them. Or rather, I didn’t really think about them one way or the other, until yesterday–when a confluence of several delightful things suddenly made me realize that I should be thinking about them, had been remiss in not considering them, and in fact, ought to be doing more research about them post haste. Delightful thing 1 is that I have been given my very…

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Small Comforts

Small Comforts

Nearly fourteen years ago, in the middle of the night, my daughter was born in a rush. She is not a person who rushes to things, it turns out, but she has a mind full of curiosity and delight, and so although I know that the mechanics of childbirth would surely give other explanations for why she came so quickly, I prefer to think her rush of arrival is simply of a piece with her eagerness about the world around…

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the Dracula diaries experiment

the Dracula diaries experiment

As schools and universities all over the country are scrambling to try to figure out how to move to remote teaching and learning in a time of great uncertainty, I am trying to stay focused on how I will do this in the least complicated ways for my students. Pedagogically, that means figuring out the top priorities for what I hope they will get out of what remains of our semester and then working on a plan that allows for…

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