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How I Write and Learn

A Day in the Life: A New Routine

By Karah

6:20 AM:

My alarm goes off, which cues Cappuccino, one of my cats, to commence her morning ritual of meowing very, very loudly until I get out of bed. She has officially made it to where the “snooze” button is no longer an option for me. It’s the same sort of wake-up call I’ve had each morning of this school year, so not much feels different at first on this Tuesday morning.

I go to the kitchen, feed Cappuccino and her brother, Alpuccino, their kibbles, and immediately make coffee for myself and pour my cereal while stretching my arms and legs. This is the same routine as always, too. I read The New York Times on my phone while munching my breakfast, as usual, and reflect on how many COVID-19-related articles there are to read. I scroll through some of them.

A photo of a desk with a laptop, coffee mug, calendar, and various images and office supplies to illustrate a work-from-home space.
My classroom for the day

7:45 AM:

Still waiting for the caffeine to kick in, I head over to the room designated as my office, which is right by our kitchen, and get things set up for my English 105 class. I’m teaching English 105 right now as I work on my doctorate in English, and, let me say, teaching online has certainly been quite a challenge. I very much miss being in the classroom with my students! Normally at this time I would be walking to Greenlaw, reflecting on key points for our class discussion, waking up to the sounds of traffic and other students heading to their early morning classes. But today at this time I’m still in my pajamas trying to make sure the online activities are up before 8 a.m. and that I’m ready to talk about some Elizabeth Bishop poems.

Before I start the Zoom session, I change my clothes and reflect on how weird it is to change to prepare for a Zoom class session.

8:00-9:15 AM:

I have a great discussion about some poems with my students who are able to join the Zoom discussion. As a teacher, I silently worry whether the students find the discussion interesting or confusing, especially in the Zoom format, where awkward silence sometimes prevails as people wait for others to chime in. Some of my students don’t have the video turned on, which is, if I’m being honest, a bit distracting for me, but I feel like if they want to keep it off and just listen or sometimes speak, that’s okay too. I realize that maybe not everyone’s home environment is one they feel comfortable sharing on the screen!

As an instructor who is still fairly early on in my teaching career, it’s always a challenge to strike a balance between making sure the students really get something out of the class while simultaneously making sure that the class is as manageable as possible, all while being as supportive as I can possibly be. Moving to the online format has certainly made striking this balance even more challenging, but with each day that passes I am becoming more comfortable with this new world of online teaching. It’s certainly a comfort to know other teachers who are adapting to this, too!

9:15-11:30 AM:

Tuesdays and Thursdays are always a challenge for me as a teacher, Writing Coach, and graduate student. I don’t usually have any time to do my own research on these days because I try to grade and lesson plan as much as possible when not working at the Writing Center. I have a hard time switching between teaching, my own work, and writing coaching while being at home, I think because I’m in the same general space. It’s easier for me to switch mental gears when I’m moving between physical spaces on campus. So, I use this time to grade some student work (I currently have lots of grading to do!). Alpuccino sleeps in the cat tree behind me, and Cappuccino roams about the house, talking up a storm to herself, sometimes coming in to check on me, sometimes vice versa.

A photo of another work-from-home space with a desk, laptop, computer chair, and sleeping cat in a cat tower in front of a sliding glass window.
Home office again!
A photo of a calico cat looking out of a sliding glass window into a porch and backyard.
Having a brief chat with Cappuccino

11:30 AM:

I have lunch with my partner in the kitchen next to my office. He’s been upstairs doing his own work, too, likely researching, prepping for an online seminar this afternoon, and probably also lesson planning and grading (like me, he’s a grad student!).

A photo of the same work from home space from a slightly different angle, complete with laptop, computer chair, desk, calendar, and wall hangings.
Still here… except now it’s Writing Center mode!

12:00-4:00 PM:

I have my Writing Center shift, except for this time it’s not in SASB. I miss being able to chat with my coworkers between sessions as I stretch my legs by going to get a drink of water, a cup of coffee, and/or a snack. Instead of walking to the coffee machine to grab a cup and chat with people, to stretch my legs and get a caffeine fix I make my own single cup of coffee and walk out into my yard to check on my flower sprouts. I also check on Cappuccino and Alpuccino and ask them how things are going.

A photo of a single-cup pour over coffee brewer sitting on top of a floral print coffee cup on a counter with a red kettle in the background.
A photo of a garden with some green plants growing in it with some rocks cordoning off different patches.
Flower babies
A closeup photo of a black and white cat lying down in a cat tower in front of a sliding glass window featuring a deck, porch, and greenery.

4:00-5:00 PM:

Ah yes… more grading! Grading has certainly not become any less time-consuming with the whole quarantine situation. In fact, there’s more student work to be read (but not graded) for the online activities as I assess participation. It often comes in waves, though. I don’t always have to grade so much, but right now I’m working through a list of feeders; I find that once I get started on grading, it’s best for me to just finish it as soon as I can. I take my time with grading because I want the feedback to be as helpful as possible for them as they work on their unit projects, especially since we can’t meet in person as a class.

A photo of two feet with pale blue nail polish on a blue yoga mat on a wooden floor.
Yoga: a necessity

5:00 PM:

It’s officially yoga time! I could use this hour to do my comps reading, but I’ve made yoga an essential practice for my life—as essential as eating or doing laundry. In the end, it’s had huge benefits, especially during these quarantine times. I miss going to the studio in person since it’s been closed; I have, however, been trying out instructional videos on my iPad. Today I’m trying out a new 60-minute vinyasa flow I have never tried through Alo Moves. Instead of doing yoga in a heated room, I’m adjusting to doing it outside on the porch when I can (this afternoon it’s not so nice outside!). It’s nice doing yoga at home, but I’m realizing how much the heated room helps to prevent soreness, and how I do prefer not having to look at a screen for certain cues!

6:30 PM:

As with breakfast, the evening routine remains virtually unchanged. My partner and I make vegetarian spaghetti together, and we chat about our days.

7:30 PM:

After dinner, we wash the dishes together, as we always do, and then we watch some Netflix (currently we are watching The Office…). We typically don’t do work past 8 p.m. or so because our brains are too tired for it, so we watch either artsy films or, on especially draining days, something more light-hearted or silly. As I get ready for bed, I reflect on the work I’ll do tomorrow and how, hopefully, I’ll have more time for my own research!

This blog showcases the perspectives of UNC Chapel Hill community members learning and writing online. If you want to talk to a Writing and Learning Center coach about implementing strategies described in the blog, make an appointment with a writing coach or an academic coach today. Have an idea for a blog post about how you are learning and writing remotely? Contact us here.

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