Shared with permission of the BioInspired Syracuse Institute.

As we move beyond the one-year mark of this unprecedented, stressful pandemic, BioInspired wants to spark some hope and joy while providing concrete ideas to combat the fatigue that many of us are feeling. The continued, combined stresses of hybrid teaching, managing groups virtually, lack of childcare support for many, and the uncertainty surrounding our return to “normal” make this one a particularly difficult semester.

Therefore, we have collaborated with the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) to highlight some time management strategies to preserve your limited energy. Also, we have included a self-reflection exercise to help you re-spark the joy of research and teaching that motivates all of us to be here. There is light at the end of this tunnel!

1. Some ideas for rest and rejuvenation

  • Campus mental health experts indicate that having two wellness days will likely be insufficient to maintain everyone’s mental health. Faculty can consider additional ways to augment mental health status. For example:  
    • plan additional wellness day(s) for your class. Consider connecting that day to a weekend.
    • plan a “no homework” (without grading!) week where work to learn the material is completed in class.
    • plan one or more of these activities to add a teaching breather in your courses.
  • Curate your “yes” and “no.” If you say “yes” to something, then think about and decide upon those things to which you will say “no.”
  • Intentionally create tech-free time, and set expectations with your students. “I will answer emails at 9 am M-F; I will not answer emails on weekends.” Level-set expectations together.

2. Reconnect to the energy and joy that you get from pursuing your work. To do so, take a few minutes to reconnect with who you are as a researcher and/or instructor. Get away from screens. You might go for a walk or have your favorite drink while you reflect on one of these questions.

  • When did you recognize that you wanted to be a researcher or instructor? Where were you? What was happening?
  • Think of a break-through moment you have had as a researcher and/or teacher? How did that feel?  Describe that moment. What aspect of that moments stays with you?
  • How does it feel to forge connections with colleagues and students? What connections mean a lot to you today? What connections give you energy?
  • What are you curious about – in your research and/or teaching? If you had the time, what would you want to know more about? Make a list and save it for later.

Many thanks to Martha Diede and Laurel Willingham-McLain, Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, for assistance in collecting these materials. We look forward to seeing you all in upcoming events, hopefully in person!

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