Faculty: Watch Out for Work Creep!!

October 04, 2021 / PSU-AAUP

When you walked into your classroom for the first time this past week, you likely encountered some new technology that allows instructors to create a Zoom meeting and/or record a class session while also teaching a course in person. Some of you may have already voluntarily agreed to teach in the “attend anywhere” mode of delivery where you would use this function. 

However, if your course is not listed as AA but you face pressure from your students, colleagues, or your supervisor to record your classes “just in case” a student is unable to come to campus --- please do consider declining this request as it will add to your workload and potentially change the classroom environment. Not all of us teach in the lecture-format that is supported by this technology, and adapting a planned lesson to better suit the installed technology undermines our ability to fully serve the students showing up in person. In a more interactive classroom, the knowledge that all questions and discussion are being recorded can also stifle student participation. Attempting to simultaneously lead a course in person while managing remotely attending learners -- or redesign a course on-the-fly to better support new modalities -- is a workload issue.

Faculty received an email on Thursday September 29, “Supporting Students with Children” in which PSU leadership acknowledged that:  

Those of us who have children have been tremendously impacted in short- and long-term ways by COVID-19 as we struggle to balance childcare, school, work, finances, and the basic needs of our families.  ...  Many children are attending in-person school for the first time in 18 months and many schools have already quarantined large groups of children due to Covid outbreaks.  

The email then goes on to ask for more work from faculty to “provide flexibility and accommodations for students with children” with no acknowledgement that many of our faculty are also facing the same challenges! 

We all value our students and want to support their learning as much as possible, however, we are also workers! We urge you to create boundaries for yourself to avoid “work creep.” This issue will become even more urgent with the coming of cold and flu season or, knock on wood, if some of our students need to quarantine due to COVID19 exposure. Keep this in mind.

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