Zooming into Faculty Day 2020: Putting Community Needs First
By Priscilla Angela T. Cruz, Department of English
Photo courtesy of Devi Paez, Kristina Garcia, Galvin Ngo, and Eboy Paez
The Loyola Schools (LS) Faculty Day for the first semester of SY 20-21 was a day of firsts. The pandemic forced us all into working from our homes, so Faculty Day was a Zoom affair with all of us logging on to the festivities and virtually reconnecting with each other.
As the weather was on the gray side, there was talk of connections getting cut, and at certain points of the day, we heard the sounds of thunder and rain coming in through Zoom as our homes got wetter and wetter. However, rough skies did not put a damper on excited and joyful spirits. Despite the physical distance between us, we gathered together for a day of listening to each other talk about service through these trying times.
Of all the Faculty Day gatherings I have attended since I joined the university in 1998, I have to say that this Faculty Day was one of the most moving. On this day, I saw the faculty, my colleagues and friends, make crucial and difficult changes in their teaching in order to put the needs of our LS community first.
In the morning, we listened to representatives from all four schools talk about the various community-building activities they had engaged in throughout the months of quarantine. Some departments had virtual parties, complete with food and games, while others had regular meetings just to keep connections between faculty alive and strong. My own department, the Department of English, had a kamustahan [catch-up session] that involved a virtual “bring me” game. In it, we were asked to bring items such as “what helps you sleep” and “what you are reading right now.” Of course, whatever item was brought warranted an explanation, which was a source of banter and kwentuhan [exchange of stories].
In the afternoon, some faculty members were asked to share what they were doing to prioritize well-being in their virtual classrooms. All the talks were about how to lessen student anxiety and to give them a chance to talk about the difficulties they were facing. My own talk was about assessment practices, which involved clear, timely feedback and a flexible revision process and schedule. This allowed the students to keep working on the assessments until they received the grades they were happy with.
All the teaching changes I heard my colleagues talk about could not have been easy, but they do show how our faculty members are willing to make difficult changes for the sake of our students. This makes me proud to belong to the LS community. ■