The Bright-er Side: Greater understanding from professors has been amplified by the pandemic

Let’s hear it for (some) profs

ILLUSTRATION: Siloam Yeung / The Peak

by Meera Eragoda, Arts & Culture Editor

Remote learning has been good at times, but the transition has also been stressful at times. Many of my online classes now have discussions on Canvas which require an extra effort to formulate ideas that wouldn’t be present in in-person classes. This, on top of extra smaller assignments, a pandemic that doesn’t show any sign of abating, tumultuous politics in North America, and dealing with personal issues, is less than ideal.

These past two semesters, however, I’ve been lucky enough to have professors who are understanding of all of the above. The transition to online learning hasn’t been easy on many of them either, but their willingness to accommodate students’ struggles shows that the pandemic hasn’t hardened all instructors. 

When I talked to one of my history professors last semester about missing a couple of discussions, he not only told me not to worry about them, but also that I didn’t need to do the upcoming one. This semester, I asked my labour studies professor for a 24-hour extension for an assignment and was granted an extra week. This professor also told our entire class that he wouldn’t be taking marks off for late assignments and that people don’t need to stress about handing them in on the same day.

Many instructors have also amended their curriculum to include less stressful assignments (or at least not stressful in the same way). A class that I was going to take last semester had changed an assignment from a very research intensive paper to an account of life under COVID-19. This flexibility allowed for students to only recount their own experiences and not have to worry about having to source information from libraries and navigate archives virtually.

Even though some of these allowances are pretty minor things, having instructors be so flexible is beyond important for students’ well-being and I’m incredibly appreciative. As the talking point goes, “we are in unprecedented times.” For instructors not to recognize that and be a little less understanding when setting deadlines and assigning work adds more stress on students. I know it’s not always possible to be flexible but more professors should be trying where they can.