What’s Bringing You Joy? An ACRLogger Collaborative Post

For this month’s ACRLoggers collaborative blog post, we’re talking about things that are bringing us joy these days. We hope this post also brings you joy and or allows you to reflect on things bringing you joy this month.  

Ramón – I do my best to not think about work in my free time, so currently I’m reading Robert Crumb’s Book of Genesis – The illustrations are amazing, of course. The last book I really enjoyed was Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammed Ali and Malcom X.

Alex – I’m trying to become more of a “podcast person.” I haven’t found any library podcasts to add to my list of regular listening, but I’m trying an episode here and there of any library podcasts that sound interesting! (And I’ve finally listened to the “Room of Requirement” episode of This American Life. It only took 3 years of recommendations from others!)

Emily “lofi hip hop radio – beats to relax/study to” on Youtube. This isn’t technically library-related, but makes me feel like an undergrad again! Instrumental music always helped me focus on homework, and these Lofi Girl videos fill my office with fuzzy, beat-forward good vibes.

Maura – I’m almost finished reading The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson and it’s such an amazing novel that I’ve found myself recommending it to people practically nonstop in the past couple of weeks. (I may also be dragging my feet a bit on finishing it, it’s that good.)

Jen – While I’m definitely finding joy in the various things I’m reading, watching, and listening to right now, those things aren’t explicitly library-related either. But I do enjoy when I can follow the thread of an idea I’ve been working on or thinking about in my professional space into whatever recreational book or movie I’m immersed in. For example, I just finished Writers and Lovers by Lily King (highly recommend, by the way) and was struck by the insights into the writing process (among other things) that it offered. I love to see those moments of connection across divides or contexts. 

What’s something bringing you joy in the workplace? 

Alex – I’m working on a lot of things with different committees and groups, and they’re all actually moving forward. None of the groups are stuck in that space of “what do we do next” or “let’s table that indefinitely,” and it feels great.

Ramón – The 10 plants I keep in my office! Whenever my eyes are tired from looking at screens or I feel stressed, I turn around in my chair & admire my green friends. 

Emily – Little flashes of community amongst students has brought me joy lately. After being virtual, then hybrid for so long, it felt like students stopped seeing the library as a lively, social place. It was getting lonely and sad! It’s great to see students study in small groups again, or meet with friends between classes in the library.

Maura – Like Emily I’m also enjoying seeing more students in the library again. While we were open last semester it was still fairly quiet on campus as most of the college’s courses were still mostly (or solely) online. Welcoming students back to the library to study, use our resources, or catch a nap between classes has been a bright spot for sure.

Jen – It’s been a hectic few weeks and I feel like I’m working just about five minutes ahead of every deadline — which is not my favorite context to work in nor the one in which I feel I’m able to produce my most thoughtful work. But at the end of the workshop I facilitated today (after having finalized it only this morning), a colleague who participated commented how helpful it was, that it was “just what I was looking for.” The point I want to make here isn’t that this particular comment from this particular colleague brought me joy, although it did. Reflecting on this brief exchange today in light of this prompt reminds me how much it matters to recognize each others’ effort and impact. I used to hesitate to share acknowledgements like this because I thought my small comments were expendable, disposable. But I feel exactly the opposite now: that such comments, however small, acknowledging that we see the work that our colleagues and our students are doing, that we appreciate their efforts, that we recognize their significance can go a long way. With them, I think we can create a bit of joy for each other and ourselves.

What’s a win (big or small) that has brought you joy in 2022? 

Ramón – Feeling more comfortable teaching my library research course & looking back on my previous work plan to see that I accomplished almost everything I set out to do!

Alex – A colleague and I got a chapter proposal accepted! The actual writing is not currently bringing me a lot of joy, but once I’m on the other side of the first draft, it will bring me joy again.

Emily – In Fall 2020, we started using LibGuides CMS to embed LibGuide pages into Canvas. This semester I’ve noticed more and more instructors requesting our “Ask a Librarian” feature (our embedded chat and contact page), and even embedding resources all on their own! It’s been good to see it catching on.

Maura – We’re hiring (again)! Near the end of last semester one of our IT staff moved on to another opportunity, and I’m grateful that we’ve been able to recruit for their replacement so quickly. I’m also grateful for my colleagues in the library who are taking the time to run the search so thoughtfully. I’m looking forward to welcoming our new colleague in the (fingers crossed, not too distant) future.

Hailley – During the fall semester, I spent a lot of time facilitating conversations around our reference services. These conversations led us to make some big changes this spring, including launching a new form to help track our interactions on and off the desk, across multiple departments. Watching this form come to life (and knowing all the hard work and conversations that went into creating it) is definitely bringing me joy.


Featured image by Bekka Mongeau from Pexels

Adulting 101

One of the biggest shifts I’ve had to make since changing jobs has been reframing my thinking around the audience for any resources. I spent a good chunk of my professional “growing years” as a children’s librarian, and therefor have internalized a lot of stuff that mostly applies to kids. Simple language, simple topics, bright colors, bold images. I’ve started dipping my toe into the world of creation for college students and have had to fight back the urge to simplify too much. Yes, I can use cursive fonts if I want and our patrons will be able to read them. (And no, lessons on the art of cursive writing are not going away! Not yet, anyway.)

Another change in my thought process has come from brainstorming what younger adults need versus what the ten-and-under population need from the library. I spent a lot of time at my previous job making booklists that categorized books by AR reading level—a system I don’t necessarily support in a professional capacity but completely understand why parents were so thankful I had a list of 15+ 3.0-3.9 books ready to go and organized by author name. Booklists aren’t so much in demand on a college campus, partially because students get their research help from reference and searching our databases and who really has time to read a whole book when pursuing a college degree? I know I didn’t.

So instead, I decided to create something that might present some value to our students, provided I can get it into their hands: a guide to adulting.

For those of you who don’t speak Millennial, Time has a nice article on what “adulting” means, and why its use has grown exponentially in the past few years. Basically, it’s a blanket term for all those things you find yourself doing when you are an independent person living on your own, from the mundane (laundry), to the unforeseen (fixing a broken washing machine), to the ridiculous (cleaning your washing machine on a weekly basis so hopefully it never breaks again and coming to enjoy the process at some point for reasons you cannot explain).

If you want a more thorough look at the etymology of the word, Merriam-Webster has you covered. And if you want more pithy, quotable examples, I recommend Twitter.

Tweet by @rashida_farhath: Adulting is being tired even after getting 8 hours of sleep
https://twitter.com/rashida_farhath

I’m utilizing LibGuides for this Adulting 101 resource list, and while I’m not ready to unleash it onto the world just yet, I can give you a small preview of what lies within the unpublished drafts. Before I started my guide, I did some Googling, and found that I’m certainly not the first academic librarian to see this kind of a guide as useful. I’ve actually referred back to quite a few LibGuides, including:

And there are many more out there, no doubt. In fact, if you know of one with some great resources, feel free to comment here or send it my way.

So far, I’ve divided the guide into 5 sections: Housekeeping, Digital Citizenship, Food & Nutrition, Finances, and Jobs & Career. I’m about 75% of the way through filling in all the information, then I’ll be able to put the polish on the final result and get it published to our Research Guides.

Adulting 101: Harder than we all thought, right?
Header for the Adulting 101 Libguide, as made in Canva.

While I really hope students can use and benefit from the information I’m giving them in this guide, what I really hope to accomplish is a little subtler. One of my goals as a Programming Librarian is to foster a sense of belonging at out libraries, and I’m hoping that providing this kind of information to students who may be living on their own for the first time in their lives, they feel supported and seen. There seems to be an expectation that you understand how to do everything on your own the moment you start attending college (especially for women, but that’s too big to unpack here). How often do you hear about college students not knowing how to use a laundromat, though? Or filling their dishwasher with dish soap and flooding their apartment? Or having their utilities shut off because they didn’t realize power wasn’t included in their rent?

I’ve been spending more time on TikTok lately. I hear these stories there.

So if I can provide information to a student on renter’s insurance, how to clean an oven, what future employers look for on their social media, and how to avoid bouncing a check, it’s so worth the time and effort to do so.

Maybe eventually someone will be as thankful for my adulting guide as those parents were for those AR level booklists. And this feels far less like a compromise of my principles.

The Back of the iPad Cart And Other Things I Didn’t Anticipate as a New Department Head

What felt like the longest month (January) is finally over. I don’t know about you, but the combination of cold temperatures, snow, the surge in COVID cases, and the push to “de-densify” the campus really put me in a pandemic funk. Each week felt out of my control and full of back-to-back virtual meetings. After spending a full semester working entirely in-person and only having a few virtual meetings each week, my body definitely needed time to readjust to working from my dining room table.The days went by fast, I was full of hectic energy, but January as a whole felt like a slog. 

As I emerge and jump headfirst into February (my favorite month for many reasons, including the arrival of my birthday), I tried to identify the reason for a hectic January. I think part of it was encountering some things I hadn’t anticipated. As I’ve talked about on the blog before, I’m new to being a department head. I’m finding it challenging and rewarding in all the right ways and an opportunity for me to grow. But like any new position, things pop up that you don’t think would happen. As I stood in front of our iPad cart, trying to determine what cords went where, I figured it would be fun to discuss a few of the things I’m navigating! 

Balancing team vs. me time

One of the things I enjoy about my new role is the ability to take a bird’s eye view at what the team is doing. It’s great to see how each individual is moving a project forward and I love to connect teammates when their interests and skill sets match up. I love thinking through the vision of the department and how our individual goals work towards collective goals. But sometimes I get to the end of the work day and realize that I’ve been spending so much time thinking about the team, I haven’t thought about me. 

By me, I mean the individual projects and work I do that is connected, yet separate in some ways, from my department head role. For example, the awesome work I get to do with LibParlor and the IMLS grant we received. Or writing this blog post for ACRLog or planning a one-shot instruction session. I’m still trying to find the balance between how I assist and support the success of the team I’m leading, but also find time to work on the things that are part of my portfolio. Recently, I’ve gotten around to blocking off chunks of time for certain projects, closing out my mail when I’m not actively sending email, and using my virtual to-do list to label when work will be done (morning vs. afternoon) and if it will require ample brain space. I know a perfect balance will never be achieved, but I’m working on being more cognisant when one side is overtaking the other. 

Defining workflows and processes 

The name of this blog post comes from a recent experience where the department got new iPads (yay). As the department head, I got thrown into how we might manage them and how we work with our central IT to maintain them. I’m a process-oriented person, who is also aware that we should capture the success of using this technology (so future funding can be secured when we need it). As I watched our IT department deliver our iPads to the library, I realized that managing 24 iPads is not the same as managing my own personal iPad that I watch Hulu on. In the process of figuring out these new devices, I inevitably spent more time on them than I anticipated. And time I didn’t even consider – like rearranging the cords in the back of the iPad cart to be neat and orderly! Was that necessary? (Probably not). Did it make me feel more organized and together? (Sure did). I know this preparation work will pay off – I’ve gotten to know folks outside of the library and think about how these iPads are part of our bigger instruction work. However, the long game doesn’t mean the short game doesn’t feel hectic!  

The pandemic (enough said, right?)

I feel like my pandemic journey at my current institution is backwards – I interviewed for the role in June 2021, during the sweet period of no masks. I started the job as the mask mandate was put back into place, and now my 2022 started off with my institution deciding to push the start of the semester back a week and encourage work from home as much as possible. I’m thankful that I had a full semester with the team before jumping into an almost entirely remote work situation. It has been weird not to see my colleagues on a daily basis and at times, I feel a bit disconnected from some of their day-to-day work. This was also really my first chance as a manager to manage in an evolving pandemic situation. It means I’m sending a lot of emails and trying to model the ways I remember feeling supported in my previous role when the pandemic was shifting and changing. We are just all trying to survive.

What’s next? 

I wish I knew what was next! Ideally, I’ll go back to a “pandemic fall normal” on Monday. I’ll keep doing my thing and figuring out strategies along the way. I’ll keep celebrating the small wins, like functioning classroom iPads that have wifi! I’m curious – did anyone else have a particularly dreary January? What happened that you didn’t anticipate? 

Recognizing and Citing Indigenous Oral Knowledge: An Interview with Lorisia MacLeod

In June of 2021, Lorisia MacLeod, a librarian from the James Smith Cree Nation, published an article called “More Than Personal Communication: Templates for Citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers,” presenting citation templates to recognize Indigenous knowledge in academia. Because both APA and MLA style guides encourage writers to cite any oral communication that does not have a written or audio recording as “personal communication,” Indigenous oral teaching gets put “on the same footing as a quick phone call, […] while even tweets are given a reference citation.” 

By using MacLeod’s templates to include a full citation in a References or Works Cited list, Indigenous oral knowledge can be “presented as an equal and valid information format alongside familiar formats like books and journals.” Lorisia has generously agreed to be interviewed for ACRLog about her work; I invite you to click the link above and read her original article as well! 

Q: In news coverage about this project, you’ve shared that you first realized the need for better citation of oral communication when you were an undergraduate studying anthropology, and that you worked with the Indigenous Student Centre at NorQuest College in Edmonton to develop templates for APA and MLA style. Tell me more about the process of creating custom citation templates. Was your institution supportive from the beginning? How did you select which elements to include? 

A: That’s right, I was very lucky to have two amazing anthropology professors during my undergraduate—Dr. Jack Ives and Dr. Kisha Supernaut (Métis)—who really recognized the importance of including Indigenous voices especially in a field that traditionally studied Indigenous people but in a very extractive way. I felt they both really highlighted the importance of community-engaged archaeology and taught about valuing Indigenous voices despite the historical academic records lack of Indigenous representation. Of course one of the tricky things about valuing something in academia is that often our value is shown by whose voices are highlighted, so if citation styles don’t recognize Indigenous ways of knowing it can be really hard to fully achieve that level of respect it deserves. At the time, I just remember thinking someone should change that limitation—make ways of citing our oral teachings more equal. Fast forward a few years and I’m talking about things academic institutions could do as actions to support reconciliation, indigenization, decolonization etc and I realize as an Indigenous librarian that maybe it was something I could be involved in doing. Since I had developed good relationships with the staff in the Indigenous Student Centre at NorQuest it really was about drafting up some examples of alternate citation templates and just asking if I could show it to them and talk.

I think I was really lucky because there was a lot of support—folks seemed to understand that it was important to take action, to make a change, in order to make the big buzzwords mean anything. I’ll admit, the fact that it was developed by an Indigenous librarian and the input from the folks in the Indigenous Student Centre helped (big shout out to Delores, Elliott, Conor, and Karie)— I had some great friends there cheering us on every step of the way and really trying to uplift our voices. When I started out drafting up something to talk about, I actually relied heavily on Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples by Gregory Younging (an amazing resource for anyone and everyone to read in my opinion). It does a great job of talking about how nations differ so it’s important to try to be precise, and other key ideas that lead me to look at what relationships mattered in a citation. From there it really seemed to flow together, trying to mimic the way that other citations for books are done, I tried to interweave that with elements like who is their nation, what is the teaching about. I tried to keep it general so it could be flexible—not every nation, person, or teaching would be the same, so some elements became if applicable. This was a part where having the amazing folks in the Indigenous Student Centre was irreplaceable, just talking about how we’d use this piece of the template or maybe this part would be better phrased like this. They also helped to figure out which parts should be included so it really was a group effort that organically formed in some ways. I guess it’s really fitting that citation templates about citing and valuing our words were mostly made through chats!

Q: Undergraduate research assignments often direct students toward published, written information, and students might not consider consulting other sources, like Indigenous oral knowledge. What ways could professors incorporate Indigenous knowledge in research assignments? How can we design assignments that get students to branch out from “traditional” information formats like books and articles?

A: So I’m a strong believer that there are connections to Indigenous knowledge in pretty much every subject BUT the key when it comes to incorporating Indigenous knowledge is really relationships. If instructors want to incorporate Indigenous knowledges, especially oral teachings, I really hope they are looking to invest in long-term mutually respectful relationships with Indigenous knowledge keepers. It’s technically incorporation to get the Elder-in-resident to come to speak in class once or send students to them but it isn’t really a good relationship to me. We only have so many Knowledge Keepers and they only have so much time so using them for one-offs for a class to check some box—well, it doesn’t feel any different from the extractive knowledge processes of many early settlers. Long-term engagement is more work but it’s honestly the kind of investment that has the potential to create real change.

So that’s a long-term thing but that isn’t to say there isn’t something folks could do right now. I think for instructors you’ll want to start by looking at your own syllabus—look at the readings you have and whose voices they are. If you don’t have Indigenous voices, then maybe you should change whose voices you are raising up (this can also apply to other minority voices that may not be represented in your syllabus). 

In both your syllabus and in your assignments, consider why you are putting in requirements about works cited having to be academic articles? There are tons of amazing Indigenous scientists, Knowledge Keepers, language keepers, activists etc that are really active on social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok. Now I’m not saying only use Twitter feeds for your readings, but infusing these into your assignments and syllabus is actually also going to teach learners information literacy skills. It’ll teach them how to engage with social media with a critical eye and combine various information formats to get a better picture of something. But a lot of that does depend on instructors and institution policies, just remember—just because something has always been done one way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way or that it’s still the best way now.

Q: What other ways can academic libraries demonstrate respect for Indigenous ways of knowing? 

A: This can be a bit of a tricky question to answer generally because it really depends on where each institution is at—some have great ties with local Indigenous groups, others have only just started trying out land acknowledgements. But here are some broad ideas:

  • Be honest with yourself, your institution, and your staff about where you really are: if you are still mostly doing virtue-signalling actions but aren’t able to acknowledge that’s what they are, it’s going to be really hard for anyone to be able to plan a realistic path forward. That can also impact the ability and interest of Indigenous communities to partner with you.
  • Who is in your collection and how? Take a look at Indigenous authors in all fields and look at how they are catalogued, what is their metadata. And when do you promote them? Please don’t only bring out the Indigenous authors for Indigenous History Month- they deserve to be highlighted in your STEM displays, your general literature displays, and the same goes for however you promote resources to your faculty.
  • Invest in staff learning: This has to be an ongoing area of learning and commitment with institutional support. Academic institutions have their roots in systems that kept out Indigenous peoples and our knowledges (or appropriated them) so for many professionals, the voices we have today probably weren’t something they learned about in their classes. So if there is a webinar panel of Indigenous scientists coming up then yes—the science liaison librarian should probably be attending.
  • Look at the Calls to Action and the CFLA TRC report: I know, these documents are getting older and are Canadian-centric but that doesn’t mean that all the calls have been met or that they aren’t useful for others. Find actions you need to take and then hold yourself/your institutions accountable to working on them. An important thing to note with this is that process is often viewed as a linear path—in my experience, true respectful actions might take a less direct path. A library might realize that they didn’t have the relationships they thought they had and need to change the plan to develop those—I don’t think that’s a failure. To me, that kind of openness to adapt and change is a reflection of respect, it acknowledges that true respect requires ongoing engagement and the needs of the parties involved naturally will change over time.
  • Have Indigenous knowledges in your library: Yes this, of course, means buying Indigenous books but consider how our knowledges aren’t limited to that format. What about art? What about having storytellers and Knowledge Keepers? What about partnering with your institutions’ Indigenous student centre or local Indigenous groups?

Q: Who are some librarians (or experts in other fields/identities) that inspire and influence you in your work?

A: Aside from those I talked about above, I have to start off with the obvious (and slightly sappy) answer which is that my Dad (Kirk MacLeod) and sister (Kaia MacLeod) are huge inspirations to me. My Dad was in the library field for over a decade before me, so he was one of those Indigenous librarians who helped make space for future generations like me and my sister. The field he entered was very different from when I entered shortly after the release of the TRC report; he has always cheered me on and been a role model on leading change but remaining humble. Kaia just entered librarianship and in addition to being a really awesome librarian in her own right, she motivates me to keep trying to improve the field for all future Indigenous librarians, just like our Dad did for us. Now that we are all in the same field, they give me feedback and their perspectives from other areas in the field too! Plus it’s a constant reminder that the field is full of amazing people to work with, like Jessie Loyer a fantastic Cree-Métis librarian, cousin, and friend who always seemed to know just the right thing to say to empower early-career Indigenous librarians to create change.

Gregory Younging (Opsakwayak Cree Nation): His book Elements of Indigenous Style was a huge inspiration. I’m pretty sure I recommended that read to everyone I knew—it was an amazing guide that somehow managed to walk a fine line between instructional and allowing for space for community engagement. That was a stance that I’ve really tried to emulate in my own work because I think it is a perfect way of tackling Indigenous matters without falling into the pan-Indigenous identity trap.

Eve Tuck (Unangax? ), K. Wayne Yang, Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández: If you haven’t taken a look at The Citation Challenge, I would highly recommend it. This was part of what drove home for me the important role that citation has in respect and power systems.

Dr Jessica Hernandez (Zapotec and Ch’orti’): An amazing Indigenous scientist who I’ve followed for years. Now I’m not a scientist but her work is a great example of the amazing work current Indigenous scholars make that deserves to be considered for syllabus readings. Supporting scholars like her is part of what inspires me! She recently just published a new book too: Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science.

At the risk of creating a ridiculously long list I think I’ll cut myself off there.

Thank you to Lorisia MacLeod for her contributions to scholarly communication, and for sharing her thoughts with us here at ACRLog.

Reflecting on Library Instruction

Palms are sweaty, knees weak but I’m not talking about spaghetti (sorry, Eminem); I’m talking about teaching a credit-bearing library course! This last Fall semester, I not only started my first official librarian position, but I also taught my own credit-bearing library course for the very first time. It’s something I’ve briefly mentioned in previous posts, but it’s actually been a huge part of my experience as a first-year academic librarian.  

Within my library, my position falls under the Teaching and Outreach Department. In addition to outreach services, my department’s responsible for teaching several one-shot library instruction sessions per semester as well as teaching credit-bearing library courses. Most of our one-shots are delivered to first-year undergraduate courses, but we also offer the usual library orientation session and course specific instruction as well. Our credit-bearing classes are often co-requisites of corresponding courses. For example, we teach library research classes that support the following programs: Speech and Audiology, Honors, CHE (a TRiO Program for first-gen students), History, and Criminal Justice. The course I teach, LIB 160: Library Research, supports the Criminal Justice program.  

There are several components that come with teaching a co-requisite course. Myself and my colleague, who has been teaching 160 for some time now, regularly collaborate with the faculty member in charge of the course we’re a co-requisite of, CRJ 380: Research Methods in Criminal Justice. This means we do our best to ensure the work that’s done in 160 is closely aligned with what students are expected to do in 380. The major project students complete in 380 is a research proposal. The final assignment in 160 is a literature review which becomes a part of students’ research proposal for 380. Though we work hard to ensure that 160 provides students with the information literacy skills necessary to be successful in their field, planning for and teaching the course is not without its share of struggles.  

Some of the struggles that came with teaching 160 were fairly standard for teaching a new course. In spite of finishing my MS-LS with a solid understanding of information literacy, learning an entirely new curriculum designed for a subject matter outside of my expertise was my first big challenge. Though my colleague who taught the course before me was open to questions and more than willing to share her materials, I still had several lessons and assignments to familiarize myself with in a relatively short period of time – My position started in July and classes began in August. Thus, a great deal of my orientation process was dedicated to learning the ins and outs of 160. After starting to learn the curriculum, actually being in the classroom itself and teaching the lessons became my next challenge.  

Thanks to my colleagues who introduced me to the idea, reflection has become a part of my teaching process. Last semester, I got into the habit of journaling after every class. I’ll be the first to admit that not every day was my best last semester. To give you an idea, the words and phrases I used to describe my first week of class were: nervous, felt weird, stress, sweaty, talking too fast, and I think they liked my personality. Imposter syndrome loomed large for me. Though I have years of experience teaching high school, the thought of teaching in a university was intimidating for me. I was always a little nervous whenever I taught high school, but this was different. In hindsight, it may have been a combination of different things: new job, new responsibilities, first time teaching a new course. Yet, all of that isn’t to say that there weren’t any successes last semester.  

Seeing my students learn and grow has always been among my greatest successes as an educator. This past semester was no different. At the beginning of 160, my first assignment asked students to illustrate their current research process. At the end of the course, I asked my students to carry out the same assignment but to add any new steps they may have developed in 160. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of my students added several steps to their old processes. Course evaluations were another new but pleasant surprise. 

Needless to say, teaching an in-person course during a pandemic is a challenge. Though my institution has a vaccine and mask requirement, the semester was not without its fair share of quarantines, sicknesses, or students dealing with labor shortages at their jobs. I’ve always felt that, before anything, students are people with lives outside of the classroom – Lives which are often subject to circumstances outside of their control. Because of this, I’ve always strived to be an open and understanding instructor. Even so, it was my surprise to see that several students noted my approach in their course evaluations with comments like, “Professor García truly cares about his students and them succeeding” and “He was very understanding with assignments and helped me when I needed an extension.” Though I often felt like maybe I didn’t know what I was doing, I’m happy to report that I never lost sight of my students’ humanity and my responsibility to them as an instructor.  

Flash forward to the present, my class is entering its third week and I’m happy to report that it’s been great! In spite of the current Omicron surge, students in quarantine, and snow days, I feel so much more comfortable as an instructor this time around. Looking at my reflection journal, the first week was described as comfy, easier, nice balance, and connecting with students well. Though I know improving one’s pedagogy is a continuous process, knowing the semester has gotten off to a great start fills me with great optimism. 

My view of my classroom.