Adapt Remote

Students and Professors Adapt to Multiple Roles During Remote Learning

Normal is not a term that can be used to describe the year 2020, nor the lives of the people living in it. Any other year, parents would be working in offices, students would be learning in classrooms, and socializing with others in person would be simple.

Today, one is encouraged to stay in their homes and avoid staying within six feet of others. Rather than coming to campus every day and hosting or attending classes, the majority of students are learning remotely. And, while professors are at home, so are their children.

These trying times have professors fulfilling multiple roles. While trying to teach, class might be interrupted because a professor’s child may need help with schoolwork or they may be hungry. If your professor’s child is in a Zoom class at home, and they get hurt or their nose starts bleeding, their teacher will send them to the parent because there is no nurse’s office in virtual school. This means that class might be interrupted or ended early. For now, this is the new normal and professors are still learning to adjust to it.

Liz O’Brien, Director of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program, said, “The hard part of remote work is not separating work from home, having babies cry in the other room while on a phone/Zoom call, and trying to have babies understand that mommy can’t play right now. The hardest role isn’t a role… it is finding a balance…getting my job done while being a more present mom.”

Professors, counselors, and faculty are all wearing multiple hats during this pandemic—educator, parent, spouse, caretaker, nurse, and lunch person. While these may be normal roles for one to fulfill, they are not usually being done at the same time.

“When working in the office you can keep these roles separate, but when in the same space you have to find ways to create new boundaries and expectations for everyone,” O’Brien said.

Maintaining various roles is difficult, but finding a balance is the key to helping individuals keep their sanity when they have much on their plate.

Much like professors, students are familiar with the struggles of taking on many roles at once. Students often use excuses as to why their work is late or are constantly asking for an extension on deadlines. In today’s world, there is no telling if their “excuses” are the truth or a way of getting out of the work.

Kathryn Lubniewski Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Special Education, said, “With everything that’s currently going on, I try to be there and listen to students and their variety of needs. It’s so important to take the time to understand each person’s situation and I adjust my teaching accordingly.”

More so now than ever, students need to feel that their professors are there for them. If professors don’t communicate with their students and vice versa, it will be hard for everyone’s needs to be met. With many classes operating remotely this semester, it may be difficult to obtain that one-on-one connection with professors.

Elizabeth Muller, a senior psychology student, said, “Working with a new professor online is a lot different than working with a new professor in person because it is harder to get a sense of who they are.”

There are many discrepancies when it comes to in-person and online classes. In person, you may be able to tell that a professor is just trying to keep the class enjoyable with sarcasm, but when class is being conducted online, it may come off as rude.

Students should also note that it might take professors additional time to grade assignments due to the multiple responsibilities that come with remote teaching.

Tabitha Rahman, a senior English student, said, “I believe we need to be more understanding now than ever of our professors. Personally, I feel this way because I understand how crazy things are right now and just as it is an adjustment for us it is an adjustment for them.”


Anthony DePrimo