B is for Backgrounds #AtoZChallenge
Disclaimers: I am an independent blogger. Reviews and recommendations are done based on my own opinions. I am not getting compensation from the link posted here.
This challenge will force me to write about how I am walking through these strange times #COVID19 as an engineering professor. I am glad that I have found some motivation to write about it.
Day 21-Staying at Home
After one week of working from home, I started to have anxiety attacks, I think it was because it was becoming harder to manage my time while transitioning my courses online. While entering the new Zoom alternate reality, every day we would receive new instructions about what to do and what not to do during this process. I was overwhelmed. How I was going to manage to transfer my classes that are traditionally taught face-to-face, learn new software, change my syllabus, learn how to do assessments online, support my students emotionally while at the same time keeping the integrity of the program? I was anxious and stressed.
What if I missed something and put my job in jeopardy because someone thinks I am not keeping the integrity of the program? You see, I am a non-tenure track faculty, and I always feel threatened that I can lose my job at any moment. No matter how good people tell me I am… this is my reality. I am not tenured nor have a long-term contract. My mind was spinning out of this reality into our new reality.
Above all of that, I am a human with a family that was also adjusting to this new rhythm. I was concerned for a friend that enter trauma care after a road accident. We were making sure that our parents were safe and had everything they needed. We were hunting for soap and, weird as it sounds, we were looking for toilet paper. I was worried that because I am bringing my students to my space, my space should be spotless. I became obsessed with keeping my house and office space clean enough so I can teach and record my lessons from home. I found myself going down into the rabbit hole.
I am fond of looking for words in the dictionary and from a quick google search:
I had the choice to do something about my feeling or my uncontrollable reality. I have to admit that my next steps were inspired by my students. On Thursday, one of my design teams came to our weekly Zoom meeting with really cool backgrounds and prompts! They made me so happy, and we had a laugh about it. My next step was obvious: procrastinating by looking for unnecessary zoom backgrounds to connect with my students and make them laugh too.
Procrastination as a form of coping
On a Friday, after the bulk of my week was completed, I procrastinated by looking into Twitter for the hashtag #ZoomBackground. If you are teaching online using Zoom and you haven’t seen what I am talking about, please go an open a Twitter account and search for #ZoomBackground and ZoomBackgrounds. Please, check it out and come back!
Oh boy! All of my anxiety faded away when I saw many other academics having fun in the middle of all of this. I had a new purpose during my #StayAtHome time, and, on that Friday night, I was determined to see it through.
After following the instruction to install my Zoom Customized Background, I noticed that my computer didn’t had the requirements. The next option was to get a green screen. As many of us do, I went directly to Amazon and ended up with a costly screen that was not in stock, translating into a late delivery. I couldn’t wait.
Instead, I decided to order from a local store a green mate fabric online and pick it up on the curbside. I used materials that I had in my house such as ribbons, binder clips, and 3M sticky hangers to create a green curtain. Voilá!
I know that with everything that is happening around us, this seems to be the silliest thing ever, but it is helping me cope. I spend more than 8 hours every day in front of my computer teaching and helping my students in their projects. Changing backgrounds and seeing their reactions brightens my day a little bit.
My favorite backgrounds are mostly related to my favorite shows or movies. If you want to get ideas, check the links below. Disclaimer: I am just sharing these links, and I do not own or control its content.
That is all for now. I will try my best to stick to the #AtoZChallange, but I am not sure if I will stick to the exact schedule.
You can follow me on twitter at @SindiaSrj.