Hello, all:

I hope this finds you well, and that: a) you feel like you’re making progress on getting your courses up to speed, and b) you’ve found some time to exercise, bake, tinker around on the piano, practice a little yoga–in short, take care of yourself, take a deep breath, and get some time to clear your head.

First, a request:

As you get things up and running, creating (re)introductory outreach videos or e-mails to students, can you please share them with me so that I can share them with others? As a colleague pointed out to me earlier today, often in situations like this where we have to experiment in new ways, seeing examples of what others have done provides us with a sense of permission to move forward in ways that match our sense of who we are and want to be in the virtual classroom.

Second, a link, and a few thoughts on that link:

Last week, I came across a posting on academic social media called “Nobody Signed Up for This.” In it, Brandon Bayne, an instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill, basically reset his entire syllabus with an upfront list of five points about how he and his students would and wouldn’t approach the course for the rest of the semester. When I first saw it, I hesitated about sharing it with my W&L colleagues: I’m relatively new to the institution, after all, and I wasn’t sure how faculty might respond. Might you all feel Bayne wasn’t approaching his students seriously enough, intellectually enough? Might Bayne’s reset be perceived as “touchy-feely”? As someone who, as an instructor, was known for giving very few if any A’s, I was wary of being perceived as soft. As someone in the humanities who’s familiar with Plato’s decision to ban poets from his Republic, I was wary of revealing too much passion when it came to our intellectual work.

That said, I’ve chosen to share this with all of you now because:

  1. Several of you have already shared it with me, saying that it’s helped you consider how to rethink you courses;
  2. The Chronicle did a nice article on the piece, providing some useful context. Among other things, Bayne talks about how the current situation provides all of us the opportunity to step back and think about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it that way, and how we’re constructing ourselves in the context of our courses. This kind of reflection is crucial to our continued development as scholars and thinkers, and, yes, as instructors.

That in mind, here’s “Nobody Signed Up for This ,” by Brandon Bayne. Please let me know what you think.

Finally, an announcement:

In light of current circumstances, MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style have all announced that, for the foreseeable future, sentences should now be separated after the period by at least two and as many as six spaces.*

My most sincere apologies. I will see myself out . . .

All the best,

*I really am sorry about this joke. I found it on Twitter, and couldn’t stop myself!