By Oren Hertz
It happened rather quickly, where we had to adapt to a new reality and a modified way of life. Facial covering, social distancing, contact surface—all new to us. In the world of teaching and learning, we had to adapt to the online environment whether we liked it or not.
Some see it as an advantage, while others cannot wait to come back to the classroom.
Whichever point of view one might choose, this pandemic caused anxiety and unrest among many. This includes our students. We are now meeting with them virtually until further notice, with no end in sight. However, the good news is that everything in life is temporary, including this virus, including this situation.
In my research I have created a teaching model named the Hertz Quality Teaching Attributes (QTA). This model could be considered a necessity in times like these where we try to find comfort and peace, and when we try to compose ourselves and be kind to one another, especially toward our students who may have less life experience than us.
Let us focus on some attributes from the model that may be helpful during this time of angst:
Emotional state. How we feel is arguably the most important teaching attribute right now. We must take care of ourselves physically and emotionally. This means that we should adopt a daily habit that sets us in a good mood. This could be walking, exercising, meditating, praying, sitting still, playing with pets, reading or whatever helps us reduce anxiety and elevate happiness. This is particularly important to achieve prior to teaching a class. Vibrations are also felt virtually, and our students can detect, even over the internet waves, when we are happy, sad, anxious or experiencing other human emotions.
Self-awareness. We should be self-aware of our environment at home, where most of us work from nowadays, as well as the awareness of the way we feel prior to teaching a class. If we can early-detect attitude, angst, anger or other undesired emotions we might feel prior to teaching, then perhaps we can ‘fix’ the way we feel before we face our students virtually. Self-awareness is the detection mechanism for our emotional state, which can be adjusted or corrected once detected. However, if we do not think about this conscientiously, who knows what our students are going to get.
Relationship skills. We've all heard it many times during the past few months: “We are all in it together.” This is our opportunity to enhance our working relationships with our students by offering advice, listening to them, reassuring them that we have seen challenging times such as 9/11 or the economic downturn of 2008, and we will get through this together. This is our opportunity to become one of their guiding lights out of these dark times, and in return, we are cultivating strong and long-lasting working relationships with our students. There is a great payoff to this attribute, short-term as well as long-term.
The other two remaining teaching attributes are important, but not as relevant to the current situation. If you would like to read more about all the teaching attributes or learn more about my research, please visit: http://orenhertz.academia.edu