This past semester I taught two courses: an advanced (causal inference) methods course, and an outbreak investigation course.

I’d like to share some thoughts on teaching during a pandemic.

🪡🧵
1. The pandemic is the major thing happening in everyone’s lives, in one way or another. Acknowledge that it exists and state clearly how your course expectations are changing because of it.
1b. Change your course expectations because of the pandemic! Relax late work policies, provide alternative grading options for people that need more flexibility, use projects or homeworks rather than exams, find ways to allow for asynchronous course participation.
2. The pandemic is traumatic! Do not add to your students’ trauma by using “fun” COVID examples in homeworks, exams, lectures. Using these examples will make learning HARDER for the students who are suffering the most right now.
2b. If the pandemic is not DIRECTLY relevant to your course material, limit your references to it.

OTOH, if your course material IS directly relevant to the pandemic, acknowledge and incorporate it as much as possible into your pedagogy.
2b cont: For example, every topic in my Outbreak Response course included both COVID and non-COVID material, because every aspect of outbreak response is directly COVID-relevant.

OTOH, my causal methods class had only minimal references to COVID b/c it was indirectly relevant.
3. The pandemic is the major thing happening in YOUR life too. Be gentle with yourself & lower your expectations on prep time, grading, etc. Acknowledge this. It’s okay to tell students “grades will take 2 weeks b/c of the pandemic”. You will teach them to be kind to themselves.
3b. The same goes for your teaching assistants. Do not dump your extra work on them!
4. Online, in person, and hybrid classes ALL SUCK right now because WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC!

Yes, zoom lectures are hard to follow. Yes hybrid classes are hard to manage. Yes, lecturing through a face mask is horrible. ALL THE OPTIONS ARE BAD! We are in a pandemic!!!
4b. Do not compare your teaching or your students’ learning to prior years.

The counterfactual comparison for online learning in a pandemic is in-person learning IN A PANDEMIC, *not* in person learning in a *non-pandemic*.

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More from @EpiEllie

29 Dec 20
Despite the pandemic, 2020 was a wildly productive year for me academically. A big reason is I took the advice of my mentor, @_MiguelHernan, and as a postdoc & junior faculty said "yes" to every opportunity I could, in order to learn what did and didn't work for me.
Some things I've learned: A🧵
* In person talks & workshops are so energizing to me and can lead to great collaboration opportunities.
* Online talks are draining & make it much harder to network.
* Guest lectures can be fun, but recorded guest lectures are more bang for my buck.
* Doing peer review was a good use of time when I was learning to write & publish papers, but less now I am so busy.
* Pre-prints are a valuable way to get rapid feedback + reduce the pain of publication timelines.
* @UpcycledScience is a great tool for desk drawer papers.
Read 6 tweets
28 Dec 20
On the first day of Christmas, my quarantine activity:
A puzzle of a pear tree
On the second day of Christmas, my quarantine activity:
Two knitted gloves
And a puzzle of a pear tree
On the third day of Christmas, my quarantine activity:
Three French crime shows
Two knitted gloves
And a puzzle of a pear tree
Read 5 tweets
26 Dec 20
There’s a lot of talk about how anti-expertise sentiment is problematic, but I’d like to offer a slightly different take.

The issue isn’t that people don’t want to listen to experts, it’s that experts aren’t being honest with ourselves about the limits of our own knowledge.

🧵
Although many people take the concept for granted, KNOWLEDGE is a hard thing to define.

Philosophically, to *know* something you generally need three things: (1) for it actually to be true; (2) for you to believe it is true; and (3) for you to have learnt it in a reliable way.
The first requirement—that the think you think you know is actually true—is something we can’t ever really be sure of because The Truth is largely an unknowable philosophical mystery, in the same way that a perfect circle is an idea that doesn’t exist in the world.
Read 25 tweets
22 Dec 20
The past 12 months, I’ve heard a disturbingly large number of people, even respected senior scientists, ask the question: “how do I design a study to prove this fact I already believe is true?”

Um, you shouldn’t?!

Ask instead: “how do I design a study to learn *if* it’s true?”
Read 4 tweets
6 Dec 20
People often ask me if they should do some optional activity.

I work from home & only leave to exercise outside or run errands (eg groceries, take-out). This is all I’ve been doing since March.

So, no I don’t think you should do that thing. But if you must, please do it safer.
I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss casual water cooler chats and awkward small talk, I miss getting lost in a crowd, I miss browsing craft & art markets, I miss IT NOT BEING A PANDEMIC.
I’m not wading in to the comments to argue about my choices, but let me just say, risk to *myself* is not my primary driver here.

I stay home because of risk to us *all*. I stay home because I can, and, by staying home, I make myself a firebreak for my contact network.
Read 5 tweets
6 Dec 20
If you’ve followed me since the spring of summer, you may remember that I injured my knee just before the pandemic really kicked off. After several rounds of physical therapy & multiple diagnostic procedures, it’s mostly (tho not completely) ok.

My health insurance OTOH... a🧵
I have pretty decent health insurance through work that generally meets my needs. They paid for all my knee-related issues just fine, at first. But then everything changed...
... I started getting like weekly letters asking me to call the insurance company to let them know if my knee was injured in some way that meant they weren’t the ones responsible for paying (car accident, work injury, etc).

But it wasn’t & they were.
Read 6 tweets

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