When the pandemic swept through San Antonio, closing colleges in the middle of March 2020, faculty and students had no choice but to adjust academically in all levels. Many of the students drifted away, not answering to faculty, not logging onto virtual classes. This meant teaching practices had to significantly change and maybe, conclusively because of the pandemic. As a result of the pandemic, colleges were unlikely to return to normal anytime soon.
Similarly, small business owners and entrepreneurs also faced adjustment in a time filled with many uncertainties. The pandemic affected virtually every aspect of business and as a result entrepreneurs everywhere have had to change and modify entire business models.
My biggest challenge was separating work and balance in my life. The shift from working on campus to working at home. I realized the difficulty in separating work life versus home life was harder than I expected. I found myself working harder because students were contacting me by email at all hours. It was really hard to turn it off, so my stress level increased substantially causing burnout and higher stress levels. I decided to reflect on the importance in setting a daily schedule resulting in a positive balance.
Practically, most students were missing the face-to-face instruction due to the pandemic. Many students and faculty shared the same concerns. The hope that the pandemic will be under controlled, both students and faculty will return to campus but with the possibility of lower achievement from students due to the pandemic. Some concerns that the gap between high and low achieving students will become larger. In the meantime, faculty are scrambling to adjust academic content from a face-to-face environment to an online platform and students are rearranging work responsibilities (if not unemployed). Then there are college students/parents are taking on a role on educating their own children on a full-time basis. Students themselves are faced with isolation, depression, concerns of dealing with a deadly virus, and doubt about the future. As an educator, it is imperative to make sure that there are makeup opportunities.
This difficulty in finding a balance is also very prevalent in the lives of business owners. Now that many students have transitioned to virtual school, entrepreneurs are having to juggle the stress of running a business with taking on the role of educator. This balance is often times hard to achieve and can have detrimental effects on mental health among other things.
As the pandemic continued through the summer and now into the fall the risk of losing students has increased. The reason behind is not that students did not want to engage but they did not have the resources to know how to or couldn’t log on to Wi-Fi, or whatever the subject matter may have been. For most students, having access to their courses meant access to a range of services, such as, Wi-Fi, laptops, desktops, and other equipment in order to be successful in their education endeavors. As an educator, we have witnessed changes in our students’ attitudes and confidence levels which means educators are required to incorporate compassion, understanding, trust, positive role modeling in zoom classes because of the situation we are in today.
Like students and educators, entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic have had to adapt tremendously as the times continue to be ever-changing. During these difficult times, it is vital for business owners to continue to be resilient and perseverant.
Leading students in an unsettling time means being able to navigate a different way of teaching. Educators are well-defined by willpower, courage, and trust; however, maintaining connectivity is now driven by virtually evermore. Whatever the challenge might be, educators will continue to do everything in their power to maintain learning for all students no matter the situation.
By Elsa O’Campo, Ph.d.
Maestro Board Member, Assistant professor, Teacher Specialist/Lead of the Education Dept. Alamo Colleges-Northwest Vista College