Recently, I was taken aback by a text from my son: “Super super super stressed out agh.” He is in his sophomore year, with a heavy schedule, but this was out of the ordinary for the “iceman” (a nickname I gave him for always being cool under pressure, and a Bjorn Borg reference). Clearly my son is not alone. Many students are struggling as they try to complete an impossible year. But like many “good” students, my son did not want to share his concerns with instructors for fear of being considered whiney or weak.
In this IHE article, student Joseph Maronski shares his experiences with this year and puts a call to administration to help support students during these stressful times. While I support his call, this important work needs to be shared. As instructors, we are on the frontline with students. Check in with your students to see how things are going. For example, use a polling system to create an anonymous word cloud for the question: Three words that describe my week.
Also, consider how much content and grading is needed in these last few weeks of the semester. As instructors, many of us are covering less content this academic year. David Goodblar argues in this Chronicle piece that maybe that’s a good thing for students. As we create a list of what to carry forward from what we learned this year, maybe the old adage “less is more” should be on that list.
BTW, my son is doing better. Backstory, he texted right before a high stakes test where students were told “you’ll have 25 questions. Most of you will get 60% or less. That’s okay.” %#!$& No, it’s not okay, but we’ll save that for another post.