Professor Peña-Guzmán Shares Lessons from Teaching in Pandemic

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

ED SURGE -- Over at San Francisco State University, David Peña-Guzmán has had a similar revelation this semester about ditching old habits. But it’s not just about testing.

He says most professors have been forced to jump through all kinds of hoops to get to where they are: spending years on a dissertation, taking “unyielding” comprehensive exams, navigating the academic job market. As a result, professors often replicate strict deadlines and formalities for their students.

“My faith has been broken—my faith in that model has been productively broken,” he says. Since he has been forced to teach online during COVID, to students who are struggling with job losses and disruptions, he has realized that most students want to learn, even if they may not meet the strict requirements on the syllabus. “I decided to be hyper flexible, hyper accessible in terms of deadlines, extensions, assignments, formats—anything that a student would reach out to me and ask for, I made it a rule to give it to them… Now that I’ve seen the effects of this hyper flexibility, I don’t see why I would ever go back.”