News & Updates
Spring 2021 Academic Support Center NEWS
The ASC Newsletter is published once a semester by the Academic Support Center. Managing Editor: Beth Holden Layout/ Designer: Linda Araya
Surviving another Semester of Remote Learning By: Beth Holden I was thinking about writing an article about how to thrive in the spring semester, but I had to ask myself, are students, faculty and staff really thriving in this environment? With COVID-19 fatigue, Zoom fatigue, just plain any-oldday fatigue, kids being home, food insecurity, joblessness, illness and everything else going on, are we really thriving? So, I consulted Professor Kristy Robinson, acting Director of the Personal Counseling Department and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, to ask for suggestions on how students and faculty can make it easier on ourselves to get through another semester of COVIDinduced remote learning. Prof. Robinson reassured me that it was enough just to survive, and offered tips below.
Feel your Feelings!
On a good day, feelings and emotions can be difficult to manage, but when all of the factors present now—stress from classes, prolonged working and studying from home, financial & health strains—are added, Prof. Robinson says it’s important to give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling even if those feelings aren’t feeling so good. “These are not typical times. A lot of humans are struggling emotionally, so it’s okay not to be okay. Give yourself permission to feel those feelings.” She continues, “Saying, ‘Don’t be sad’ is like saying don’t be tired or don’t be hungry. Loneliness and sadness are human experiences. It’s important to validate them.”
To the Dickens with Great Expectations!
Prof. Robinson says it’s important for us to manage our expectations and set realistic goals, reminding ourselves that how we’re going to function in today’s world will look different from what it may have looked like a year ago. For example, she says, “If you are a taskmaster, you might need to change your expectations of yourself and set realistic goals, making sure that those goals are manageable.” In other words, don’t put too much pressure on yourself right now. Sometimes, just getting through the day is enough. And for students, this scenario may equate to grades, “You might have gotten straight A’s when you were on campus and things were functioning in a different way. You might find your grades look different, and it’s hard to get an A. You have to show compassion to yourself.” And remember, compassionate tutors are just one email or Zoom away at the Academic Support Center tutorials. Whether you’re doing well or struggling with classes, email us at email@example.com to be directed to the tutorial that corresponds with your subject.
Tick Your Tock – Throw Yourself a Dance Party!
Another thing to remember is to keep physically fit. “We can’t forget that even the walk from a bus stop to a classroom is a form of movement that a lot of us aren’t getting now. Any movement or activity can make a difference,” says Prof. Robinson. Something as simple as standing or stretching in between Zoom sessions can be impactful. Prof. Robinsons’ personal favorite way of getting exercise in is to put on your favorite song, and throw yourself an impromptu dance party. She explains, “Dancing it out increases your endorphins, which can give a boost to your mood.” If dance isn’t your thing, Prof. Robinson says, “There are so many home workouts that you can do in the safety and comfort of your home. Move your body, and stay as active as possible. All of these things are accessible, and they’re free.” So, put a song on your phone or laptop, stand, stretch or dance the night away.
Commune with Community
Although there’s no replacement for that in-person feeling of being on campus, in a classroom, or hanging out with friends & family, there are things you can do to connect. Prof. Robinson tells us that getting and staying connected is critical to mental well-being, and personal counseling can help. “Some of the things we’re doing in Personal Counseling is to increase the amount and frequency of virtual support groups, creating spaces for students to talk and connect with their peers around similar struggles. We’ve been intentionally emphasizing peer support in our area.” Students can find out about Personal Counseling Department events, support groups, and programs on their website www.sunywcc.edu/personalcounseling, on their Instagram @personalCounselingWCC or by e-mailing PersonalCounseling@sunywcc.edu. “While it may be hard to take that first step, connecting in whichever way we are able is super important for mental health,” Professor Robinson says. So, get involved with Personal Counseling or Student Involvement. “Student Involvement has done an amazing job making student events accessible online. Even though it’s not the same as being in person, they have a robust array of programs for students to connect about interests and subject matters. Their website is always up to date at https://www.sunywcc.edu/student-services/getinvolved. Email GetInvolved@sunywcc.edu to find out about clubs and activities.” So, from tutoring at the ASC tutorials to Personal Counseling and Student Involvement, you don’t have to go it alone. We are here for you!
Spring 2021 Spring 2021 Common Read: Across That Bridge by John Lewis—By Joanna Peters
With all the news that happened this last year – the election, the climate change controversy, the economy, and the demonstrations, the Common Read Committee decided to focus on the issue of racial equality when it reviewed and considered books for the campus wide Common Read book selection. Across that Bridge, by the late Senator John Lewis, is the spring Common Read book. This book was selected because it: a) promotes a vision of change for the future of America, b) is very accessible and c) won the most votes in a college wide vote of faculty members. If you are already reading it in your class, wonderful, if not, please consider adding the book to your syllabus, and your reading list. There were several lead up online events in the fall. One was Howard Bryant’s talk hosted by Dr. Erik Fortune, about the book, Full Dissidence on November 12 and Professor Don Simmons Jr. hosted a discussion with Ibram X. Kendi author of How to Be an Antiracist which was held on October 28th through the White Plains Library. This talk and other discussions helped set the stage for the Common Read choice this year. These discussions and the multiple and interesting events designed for the spring semester will help us focus on finding and achieving racial equality in the United States. Look for related topics to be covered through monthly symposiums, discussions, and films. The e-link for the book is currently available. Contact Margaret Eiden or Helen O’Brien for more information. ZOOM IN | Study Skills for Success Wednesdays @ 11 AM Online (or anytime with a tutor), Spring 2021
Avoiding Zoom Gloom – By Beth Holden
It’s fifteen minutes before class. You’re searching through your email box — a tangle of messages for all of the classes or meetings you have that day. Where is it? You thought you had it. Your heart pounds. Your palms sweat. Finally, you find it. You click. It’s not connecting. Wait! It’s working now. You’re plopped unceremoniously into a class or meeting. Your face stares out into a sea of other faces. You see yourself and notice that your hair’s a mess. Your child darts across the room behind you and shrieks, “Where is my bunny?” The faces are chuckling. Should you turn the camera off? Would that be rude? And all of this is happening before the class or meeting. It’s exhausting. So exhausting in fact, that neuroscientists have been studying it since the pandemic began and have coined a term for it “Zoom fatigue.” It’s just one of the many new words that have been added to our collective lexicon since COVID crashed our planet. So, how do you refresh yourself? Again, we turned to Professor Kristy Robinson, Acting Director of the Personal Counseling Department, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker for some answers.
“The fatigue is real. The brain is working harder when we are on camera calls than when we are in person. It’s more work for your brain to process. There are tech issues and mishaps. It’s more exhausting on our brains, and the exposure to the screen light is also tiring on the eyes. It can give you headaches.”
Class after class, meeting after meeting and then socializing with friends and family at night after being on a screen all day is enough to give anyone a headache, so what’s a Zoomer to do? Professor Robinson says be strategic about your schedule and recommends scheduling breaks between Zoom sessions if you can. She says that, “Even if it’s just two minutes in between your class and your meetings, it can make a big difference,” and adds, “We forget how important transition times from class one to class two are during our days. Those little transitions are mental breaks that we need to go from one place to another. Having those breaks can give the feeling of those transitions.” Some of her students have even scheduled “mock commutes” as part of their morning routines. “I thought it was amazing — having that time where they would make their coffee and sit on the couch like they would sit on the bus. That time is an important part of our daily lives that we forget about and maybe don’t give enough credit.”
She also encourages students to advocate for themselves. “Check in with your professors and club advisors. See what the expectation is about having the camera on. If you are in a class or a club meeting or some type of call where the expectation is that you don’t have to have the camera on, turn it off, and have that time to not be “ON.” She recommends checking in with yourself too. “Students taking that moment to check in with themselves to see what they need and what the appropriate response is such a powerful mental health tool.” Also, remember that although we are in a Zoom Boom where everyone is Zooming from here to there, we do have other methods of communication that can serve us just fine. “Limit unnecessary video calls. If something can be completed in an email, phone call or a text make sure that you are exploring alternative options so you don’t feel like you are tied to one technology all the time.”
Designated Tutor Program Spring 21—By Joanna Peters
By now, you may have heard of the Designated Tutor program in the ASC. The program was designed to provide greater access to students for academic support and to assist in helping motivate students to use ASC services. This last fall, forty-four sections including Math, English, Reading, and ESL had a tutor assigned to a specific class one hour a week. Faculty members participated in various ways: some were interactive with the tutor, speaking weekly and organizing topics to be covered in the session; others offered the extra hour for students to get additional support. In the end, ASC surveys showed that students were hesitant to come to these sessions, but when they did, it worked for them, and they had positive experiences. Faculty, tutors and students agreed that overall, the program was positive for students. Judy Marano tells us, “Having Phyllis as my DT has been a wonderful experience. Many of my students stayed on each week, as Phyllis reiterated the points discussed in class and the next steps for them. Having this supported teaching has helped many of the students find success.” This spring we are suggesting a first come, first served approach for faculty to be part of the program, and the deadline is the second week of the semester. For further information, please contact Joanna.Peters@sunywcc.edu, or your ASC coordinator for more information.