As we’re socially distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, many students (including ours at Shenandoah) are at home and taking classes online while their parents (many of whom may also be working from home) look on. It’s an unexpected and unusual dynamic that requires flexibility from everyone involved.
Director of Shenandoah’s McCormick Civil War Institute Jonathan Noyalas ’01, M.A. offers these thoughts to help out students and parents:
As a historian, I know that the challenges we confront as a nation and as a community at Shenandoah University during this health crisis, while unprecedented in our time, are not new. While history teaches us that we should be vigilant and make smart decisions, it also instructs us not to fear, but to hope, and perhaps most significantly of all to adapt. If we maintain optimism and confront the challenges ahead with confidence and conviction there is no doubt that we will overcome.
This is a transition to a different mode of learning.
For parents, it’s one that requires your support, not in terms of reminding your child to go to class via Zoom, to work on a paper, or submit assignments, but to allow them the space and time required to complete their coursework. While there will be educational challenges ahead and bumps along this educational road, I have no doubt that giving your child the space and time required to complete their coursework and participate in classes online will be in their best, long-term interests.
Remember, the time after spring break is traditionally the most tumultuous for students.
Entering the back-half of the semester, a time when students ramp up their efforts on various projects and prepare for various assessments, is one that traditionally stresses students out considerably. In my 17 years of teaching in higher education, I’ve always instructed students to come back from spring break refreshed, focused, and prepared to work harder than they ever have before, because the stakes are ever so high. Although we are transitioning to online instruction for a period of time, those stakes remain high.
Let your child vent to you.
Learning from home comes with its own set of challenges, but perhaps one of the greatest challenges our students will confront is not having their normal support system of friends around them. While they can certainly interact with friends via texts, FaceTime, social media, etc., that in-person human interaction is now gone. Being someone who can just sit and listen to your child vent about difficulties, life, and frustrations will go a long way to helping them through this sudden, and quite frankly, somewhat shocking, transformation.
Encourage your home-based students to be patient with their professors, too.
While I have no doubt that my colleagues at Shenandoah University will approach this with their customary compassion, kindness, and understanding, faculty confront added pressures, too. Aside from quickly migrating from face-to-face to online learning, Shenandoah University’s professors have to contend with significant disruptions too, not the least of which might be caring for someone who is ill.
At the end of the day, aside from getting through this pandemic safely, it is my belief that with the support our Hornets receive from family at home, we will conquer this crisis and the educational challenges it poses.