Despite some drawbacks that are associated with remote work, I find that in terms of the freedom and time management, working from home provides a great deal of advantages. To demonstrate it, here is a snapshot on a day in my life as an instructor teaching online during this pandemic.
No morning rush
My schedule of classes has never really changed since I have started working at the college: my first class begins at 9:00 A.M.
Before the pandemic, my day would begin at 6:30 A.M. bright and early no fail. I would often find myself crawling out of bed even before the morning light came streaming in our bedroom windows. The hardest times for me were during cold days (I know I am a Florida wimp) when I needed to coax and prod and ultimately wrestle with my pleasure center telling me to avoid pain and drag myself for an early morning shower. Despite resistance from my inner child, there was no time for me to dilly dally. Every minute counted. My husband and I needed to head out the door for work before 8 A.M. to dodge the customary morning heavy traffic, which we often did thankfully.
Of course, that routine has temporarily changed after I have started conducting my classes online. With my workstation just next door to our bedroom, I can leisurely get out of bed at 8 in the morning, dress up for my classes, have an enjoyable breakfast, and sometimes even straightened up the house before Zooming in to my first class.
Always on time
With no traffic to contend with, I am usually online 15 minutes before my class starts. I go over my materials and get my Canvas and PowerPoint slides ready while my students slowly trickle in. I often keep my video and mic muted before our class time to give my students the space to chat and interact. This, in my observation, helps them to create a meaningful classroom community, albeit done virtually.
Meanwhile, I cannot say, however, that my nonchalant online experience resonates the same way for all my students. I still have learners who will show up to class late. This happens for various reasons. The most common explanations I receive are due to challenging technical issues and unavoidable personal concerns. For the latter, I have seen students creatively multitasking while attending our classes. The most frequent examples of these are students listening to our synchronous online class lectures and discussions while: 1. tending to their children, 2. driving to or from work, and or 3. traveling to another city. While they may not be the most ideal learning conditions, in my opinion, it has also served some net positives for students. For one, given the stringent requirements for the face-to-face learning mode, I am sure some of my students will now be able to survive the term due to these online flexibilities. Whereas, in a more rigid environment like face to face, their attendance or lack thereof will surely sink their grade to the bottom.
As an instructor who has been regularly assigned split schedules, distant learning has afforded me the chance to be more organized. It also gives me the ability to spend my down time more productively. While waiting for my next classes to zoom in, regardless if it is just a 15 minute break or five hour wait, I can always find something constructive to do. For instance, on days when I only teach a couple of hours in the morning, I can do a short stretch exercise to reinvigorate or take a long walk in the park while waiting for my next class to commence.
Likewise, I can also multitask while doing my remote work. For instance, doing my laundry while quietly doing my lesson plans or checking students’ written assignments. And, if household activities do not appeal to me, I can always choose something leisurely to do. I will usually sit on our patio with my husband, enjoy the nature around us, and get the most needed Vitamin D from the Mother sun as much as she will share.
Evidently, working from home has provided me the time and opportunity to undertake my work responsibilities in an unhurried fashion. Being calm and relaxed. In my view, this lack of stress has added a rippled effect. This placidity translates even more to the already positive demeanor in my classes. As the facilitator, I set the classroom tone, and, therefore, anything positive coming from my end will always resonate to my students. Thus, giving them an added learning advantage.
No late night drives
Before the pandemic, I would finish my evening classes around 8:45 P.M. Although driving home at night may not be the biggest challenge, it was arriving home late that I have considered not the most ideal situation. My husband, before picking me up at night, would often prepare a ready dinner for me – a bag of sandwich or a bowl of salad – that I could munch on our way home. I must admit, after being on my feet for hours, all I could think of was to get ready and hit the sack.
Remote instruction has changed all of that, of course. While I still get tired from straight hours of teaching – especially my posterior (from sitting) and voice box (from talking) in particular, at least now, when the clock strikes signifying end of class, I know that I am done. I have no driving to worry about, and I can start my chicken dance to de stress.
Undeniably, this pandemic has thrown me some lemons, but at least, there is some lemonade to drink. Like many instructors, in the beginning I struggled and buttressed myself to climb the learning curve posed by online instruction. But, in hindsight, given my personal experience, after a year of working remotely, I can say that it has also provided me some positive benefits that are numerous enough to counter anything it differs or lacks in comparison with the in-class instruction. So, with that I say, Zoom me in!
“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.” – Helen Keller