January 2022: From Beth Fisher-Yoshida

Dear SPS Faculty,

Welcome back to a new year. What has changed and what remains the same? Our decision making is still controlled by COVID considerations. We are fully remote in January with February and later leaning toward in person, but still undecided. We are still required to wear masks, with new guidelines of the type of mask to wear. So basically, it is still a challenge to plan for the future because at any minute our plans can change.

This puts us in a state of continued uncertainty and needing to not only make one plan with one contingency plan, rather we need to make multiple contingency plans. Well, one positive take away is we should be better at planning. It is also a good time to check in with ourselves to see where we are on the continuum of certainty/uncertainty or ambiguity/non-ambiguity.

We all have a sweet spot of just how much uncertainty we can manage before the stress and strain become overwhelming. This uncertainty may also have an effect on our teaching, curriculum, and how we engage in our classes. We can think we do not want to start something new because we are waiting for things to go back to normal. What if this is the new normal?

Another way to reframe the temporary nature of these times is to think of it as multiple opportunities to experiment. During the faculty orientation for spring 2022 I spoke about “keeping it fresh.” We have the unique situation to keep innovating because none of this needs to be permanent. We can try something out, reflect on it, refine it and go again, or dump it.

This is a great opportunity to reflect on what we can do each semester to keep ourselves engaged, create a secure environment for our students, and continue to grow and refine what we are doing. These can be mini research projects in which we try something out that we haven’t done before and see how it works. We can build on past knowledge and experience so our innovations are grounded. It is also important to identify in advance the markers or milestones along the way that will let us know the success level of these innovations and what we can tweak for continuous improvement. 

There is no time like the present to put into action what you might have been delaying. May 2022 be the year you take back your life.

Thank you,