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The new academic year – Virtually the same as any other

By now the academic term is in effect at schools across the country. And it’s business as usual – well virtually, at least. There’s no doubt that amid the strange circumstances of this pandemic year, a lot has changed in the way academia is operating. Socially distanced classrooms, masked faces throughout the hallways, limited gatherings on campus, and new methods of course delivery to support faculty and learners who remain off campus are just a few of the changes seen as we start the new academic year. Despite all this change, the new academic year is still an academic year and we still have the business of teaching, learning, and scholarly writing to attend to along the way. So, here are five suggestions to maintain a virtually successful academic practice. 1) Show up Whether it’s on campus or online, the first step to success is showing up. Attend your classes and meetings. Communicate regularly with colleagues, students, and faculty. Be present in your work – even if you can’t be physically present in the classroom. 2) Establish a routine Be consistent in your daily efforts. Schedule writing time, class time, grading time, etc. and stick to it. It’s easy to get distracted when our environment changes, but it’s necessary to establish a sustainable daily or weekly practice that can be maintained throughout the semester and year ahead. 3) Be flexible Everyone is dealing with something. And most are dealing with more than normal – whether that’s school-aged children in their new work-from-home environment, additional responsibilities at home or work, sick family or friends, or just an increase in environmental stress due to COVID. Afford students (and yourself) a little more grace and leniency as everyone establishes new routines. 4) Accept limitations Know what you can’t handle. There may be things that you were able to do last year that you simply don’t have the time, mental energy, or resources to accomplish this year. That’s okay! Recognize where your limitations exist – personally and professionally – and be willing to accept them for what they are, without guilt. 5) Embrace opportunities A large number of new technologies are being introduced daily for alleviating the distance between faculty and students. Processes are being routinely altered to support variations to tradition in every part of the academic environment. Instead of fearing the next change or mourning the loss of the traditional advising appointment or classroom delivery method, look for the opportunity to deliver a higher quality education to the students of tomorrow due to the necessary adjustments of today. What have you found to be different as you start the new academic year? What’s stayed the same? How are you dealing with the changes? We want to know. Comment below and share your experience.

Eric Schmieder

Eric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.