There is no wellness in Brandeis’ Wellness Days
I suffered from Zoom fatigue last fall. Now, I am in the midst of Zoom burnout. After an extended winter break over December and January, classes commenced in early February and they have not stopped. Sure, they give us “Wellness Days,” but so far those days have been consumed by extra homework assigned by professors. There is absolutely no wellness going on.
I recently started two modules for the second half of the spring semester. I know this is the home stretch of remote learning, and I’ve certainly appreciated some aspects of it, but there are other facets that have been problematic.
In both of these modules, my professors have emphasized in their syllabi that we are a community, and therefore we should all have our cameras on during class. I disagree. I do not believe a community should be formed on the basis of forcing a person to look at someone else. It’s a slap in the face of accessibility and accommodation. Looking at myself in the camera could help me correct my resting bitch face, but I should not have to pull out my accommodation letter to make the teachers stop asking all of us to keep our cameras on. These are small classes, so I do try to have my camera on as much as possible — out of guilt, if nothing else. But for the professor to call it out and attempt to make it a requirement is unacceptable.
Another professor bemoaned the loss of a class session to a Wellness Day, adding further insult to the injury. Instead of consolidating the reading material or not giving us a graded assignment we have been gifted with “asynchronous learning.” This means that we end class an hour early but get an additional hour of PowerPoint slides read to us. This is not to say that I don’t like the material, but the recordings are long. An email with a few paragraphs would have sufficed. Then, because our instructors believe us to be such dedicated students, we are given a detailed writing assignment about the reading for every week leading up to finals. This is while I already have four other classes. We will have a class session during the week of finals as a makeup for the class that we will miss due to the Wellness Day. Not only does this defeat the purpose of a Wellness Day, but it also adds an additional burden to our already fatigued brains. Lest you think that would be enough to drive me to write this op-ed, this instructor is also providing us with the delights of a comprehensive take-home final in addition to another day of instruction during finals week. The final will include material from the asynchronous learning we will have received to make up for our missed Wellness Day.
So, not only do I not get my Wellness Day to rest, but it will now be consumed by an assignment and thoughts of a final. At this point I'd rather just have classes on Wellness Days, if professors are not considering the well-being of students.
What I don't need are exciting ways to have class. Assign one to two readings, then tell me which breakout group I will be in so I know what I must read or do. There is no need for an annotated board, a Jamboard, breakout report-backs or colorful post-it notes — it's all a bit much.
Having students give “casual” presentations that then turn into master classes also increases target stress, which has a negative impact on my learning.
Additionally, some professors will only let us participate by speaking. So I can't even participate in the chat. I appreciate the efforts. I really do. But I have less than 30 days left, and I'm so over this!