Resisting the Urge to Go Back To Normal

Today, for the first time since March of 2020, I teach in-person to a class not subject to pandemic precautions. It isn’t a hybrid course, or one where different cohorts meet on different days. Last semester I taught fully online.

I’m prepared but I’m trepidatious.

The university lifted mask and social distancing requirements. (Though if you haven’t been vaccinated, you’re encouraged to wear a mask and stay away from others).

The class has less than a dozen students, and I wonder if attendance will be an issue. Let’s face it, I believe a lot of us enjoyed not commuting to campus. Online instruction is up, way up.

As much as I anticipate (and have anticipated) getting back in the classroom, the last thing I want is to go back to normal. Or whatever “normal” was before the pandemic began. Will I see, once again, classrooms where half the students can’t resist peeking at their smartphones? Classrooms packed to the limit of fire codes with students who are bored, uncommunicative? Students who just won’t do the readings?

Or will I see a new appreciation for learning after a year and half of upheaval?

I hope so.

The pandemic laid bare so many of the endemic fallacies and problems within our institutions.

I’d like to believe some progress can be made.