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When was the last time you were pissed off? Was it because a situation or person didn’t follow your expected script? The famous psychologist Albert Ellis colorfully labeled the anger response to unfilled expectations as “shoulding on yourself.”

Professors “should” all over themselves when it comes to remote learning. “I should teach in-person, not online.” “I shouldn’t have to learn about Panopto, Proctortrack, or whatever.” “I should be reading Science rather mindless educational humor crap like this blog.”

I understand. I didn’t get a fancy degree to sit in front of a webcam. Students should experience first-hand my fascinating wealth of knowledge. I should be doing research instead of figuring out why Blackboard hates me and randomly changes my course setup.

During a hardy pity party, I realized that Covid-19 doesn’t care about my sense of entitlement. Neither do my students. Or my family.

I ditched the “woe is me” mentality when I began viewing teaching during a pandemic as a pedagogical challenge. I might be stuck in front of a screen wearing Land Ends pajama bottoms, yet there are ample opportunities to test my skills as an educational psychologist.

Remote learning affords educators numerous instructional opportunities. How to virtually grab and maintain students’ attention? What strategies can increase student engagement? Are there ways to make online education more memorable and enjoyable?

Conceptualizing online instruction as a challenge rather than a hassle prompted me to systematically add humor to my teaching. As I was integrating pedagogical humor into my instruction, an unintended side-effect occurred – designing, building, and teaching an online course became gratifying. Almost.

Still, I’m not fond of virtual learning, and I constantly fantasize about teaching without a mask. Yet, my students and loved ones no longer watch me shoulding on myself. That’s a small pandemic win.



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