Chancellor’s Corner: The First Day of School

Dear students:  Today is your first day of school at UT Martin this semester.

Well… not really.

But it’s the first day of our transition to online classes for a little while.  COVID-19 has us doing things a little differently right now, so for the sake of safety, we are doing what’s best for the health of our UT Martin community.

This isn’t unprecedented territory for us; we’ve faced obstacles before.

We almost closed twice in our first quarter century of existence as a University of Tennessee campus: once during the Great Depression and then again when many students enlisted in World War II. But the campus survived these tough times through the ingenuity, grit and determination of our students, faculty and staff!

And while we aren’t closing, our campus is charting new waters this week..

I’ve got some advice to give you on your “first day” of class this week:

  • Communicate with your faculty.  When you have questions about your coursework or assignments, reach out to them immediately. If you have a question, odds are that other members of your class have the same question. Your faculty members want to help you!
  • Keep an academic schedule similar to your current schedule. Online platforms allow all sorts of flexibility, but you need to practice effective time management to be most successful in your classes.  Keeping a consistent schedule will help you stay on top of your classes and assignments.
  • Create a dedicated space for your coursework at home. Find a safe place to leave your notes, read your assignments and study for quizzes. Make your “classroom” the same space each day, if possible.
  • Interact with your classmates. Use technology to have group chats and video meetings with other students. Be creative in the ways you study!
  • Schedule time to meet with your faculty.  Each of our faculty members have established office hours. Set up a time for a quick phone call or video chat with them to clarify anything you don’t understand or to ask specific questions.
  • Make sure you have reliable, secure internet access.  If you are in an area with limited Wi-Fi or internet connectivity, let your faculty members know immediately. You can also contact the UT Martin Helpdesk (731-881-7900) for specific questions about your educational platforms and or issues with software.
  • Limit distractions. Treat your online classes like a job. Limit distractions like social media, technology, television and streaming information through your phone.
  • Give your faculty the benefit of the doubt. This is a new process for everyone. Let’s understand that there will be bumps, questions and new experiences along the way…but let’s go though this with a spirit of cooperation and adventure.

So while today’s transition from face-to-face instruction to an online presence is an inconvenience for all of us at UT Martin, we’ve managed obstacles before. And if history tells us anything, we’ll emerge a stronger, more resilient place.

Today, like everyday, is a great day to be a Skyhawk.

All the best,

Dr. C






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