Written By Dr. Phebe Lam, Acting Associate Vice-President, Student Experience, University of Windsor
As I began to plan for my courses online for Fall 2020, I faced this challenge with a lot of excitement as well as anxiety. Excitement for me was another opportunity to learn, reflect, and adjust my current learning styles. Anxiety was surrounded around feelings of not doing enough, not giving my students the most creative and engaging experience possible. For months, it was educating myself, reading articles, learning about new technology, joining every online seminar around online learning… it was overwhelming. Finally, I had to take myself away from this cloud of confusion and did a deep reflection. I went back to my teaching philosophy, and realized that all I needed to do, was do what I do best. Filling the learning environment with compassion, empathy, acceptance, authenticity, and genuineness. I had to act with intention, acknowledging the challenges and keeping my interactions with students fluid. I had to be brave, I had to act with courage.
After the semester, feedback from students wasn’t about how amazing it was to learn a new theory or ground-breaking research. It was all about the relief that they felt. Relief that it was okay to ‘be human’… to ‘feel human’ again. This was a quote from one of my students, “You created a place where for a moment in time, I forgot about the Covid, I felt I was someone, and I could just breathe and did not feel alone.”
I have brought those experiences to my current role as acting Associate Vice-President of Student Experience. Every day, I look for opportunities to be inspired and inspire. I look for opportunities to acknowledge how someone has impacted me, even in the ‘littlest’ ways. Finally, I surround myself with those whom I serve, to stay human. Cheers to many more days to unlearn, to relearn, and to be learned.