Episode 7: Finding Balance with Dr. Anthony Estey

Dr. Anthony Estey completed his PhD in computer science at UVic in 2017. After spending three years as a lecturer at UBC, he returned to UVic as an Assistant Teaching Professor (Limited Term) in late 2019. Anthony is interested in improving the learning experience for introductory programming courses.

"A lot of the ways that I learned how to be a successful student were through a trial and error process."

Dr. Anthony Estey 

Waving, Not Drowning

Transcript

Rebecca Gagan: Hi everyone. I’m Rebecca Gagan, and this is Waving, Not Drowning, a UVic Bounce podcast. Today’s episode is being recorded on the unceded and unsurrendered territories of the Wsáneć and Lekwungen peoples. 

 

In today’s episode, I talk with Dr. Anthony Estey, an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, where he regularly teaches introductory programming courses. Dr. Estey completed his PhD in computer science at UVic in 2017. He then spent three years as a lecturer at UBC and happily returned to UVic as an assistant teaching professor in late 2019. In our conversation today, we talked a lot about Anthony’s experience as a student himself in computer science and how he really worked to sort out how to establish and then how to maintain a healthy balance in his life. This meant really trying to figure out that productivity isn’t something that one is able to really maintain after many, many hours of studying, and that it’s actually more productive and more useful to step away and take a break, despite that inclination to just keep labouring away to just keep studying. Anthony also talks a lot about the challenges, especially the challenges during the pandemic, of trying to figure out how to do university and that this is a process. And it’s a process very much of trial and error in which students, including himself, had to learn how to do university, often sometimes through going down paths that actually weren’t working and even sometimes from failures. I’m Rebecca Gagan here today with Dr. Anthony Estey, and this is Waving, Not Drowning.

 

Hi, Anthony. Thank you so much for being here today. How have you been doing?

 

Anthony Estey: Pretty good I guess it depends on what aspect of my life you’re asking about.

 

Rebecca Gagan: Let’s not make it an elephant in the room here. Why don’t we just — how have things been going in terms of just living through these really difficult times here with this pandemic?

 

Anthony Estey: On one side, I guess it’s really lonely. I think just in here. This is the same room I lecture in, and it’s — I’m basically in the closet in a second bedroom of a two-bedroom apartment. And this is basically where I spend all day, every day. So, I think just being boxed in is tough for anyone. I guess, especially when I think one of the great things about Victoria is how beautiful it is and how even just on campus, it’s so easy to go out and go for a walk and stuff like that. And kind of see all students and then chat with students and stuff like that, which is something I really liked doing in-between kind of classes and stuff. I guess on the flip side, I think a year ago if you’d asked me, “could you teach everything online next semester?” and I hadn’t known there was going to be a pandemic. Or if you said, “how do you think how well do you think would be going?” I don’t think it would be going as well as it actually is. It certainly has challenges. I think I would much prefer in person-classes, but I think in some ways, at least from a content perspective, students are more or less getting all the content that I hope that they’re able to get. So, I guess for me, part of it is when things transition back to normal, it’s not like when they want to move into the next course, they miss all these key components. So, I think from that perspective, I guess, it’s in some ways better than I would have expected it to be, but it’s certainly not. It still has its challenges and isn’t as great as I feel like in-person classes are.

 

Rebecca Gagan: Well, and I think too, that piece around expectations, right? Like you, I was very nervous about making the shift to online teaching. I had never even taken an online course myself like as a student, let alone taught one. I feel the same way that on the good days, I feel kind of pleased that it is going better than I had perhaps expected.

And also, as you say that, even if your standards have had to adjust, you can at least feel like you’ve prepared your students and done right by them in terms of giving them what they need. And I think that even in the midst of all of the challenges, that can bring a kind of feeling of, maybe not happiness, but at least comfort that you’ve achieved with what you needed to do in terms of teaching your students and preparing them for the next step. And I really hear what you’re saying about the way in which we can feel boxed in these days and the loneliness, and it’s actually something that I’m hearing a lot from students as well. You’re describing, Anthony, that the space that you’re in is the space that you’re living in, the space that you’re trying at times, I’m sure, to relax in. And also, that’s the space where you are working and where you’re teaching, but also then when you’re trying to socialize over Zoom or what have you, that it’s isolation. But I think the word lonely is also a really important word to use because I think that is how a lot of students are feeling, that all of those connections that we make, really informally and spontaneously on campus, moving from class to class. I can speak for myself and say I think I really took those connections for granted.

 

Anthony Estey: And that’s something that my TAs have brought up that they’re the most worried about, me as well, but they were in agreement that they’re the most worried about what the students are missing. The course I’m teaching typically have pretty large lectures, so maybe it’s hard to make a lot of really meaningful connections during lecture.

But I think just you sit beside someone a couple of times a week, and maybe you do for some connection that you can strengthen outside of the class. But I think the labs, where there’s like between 20 and 30 people, and you’re always sitting beside the same person, and it allows you can do activities where you’re having a discussion with the people around you. And that’s just so hard to replicate in an online setting. And so, my TAs were saying that these are people that I ended up bonding with and working together through multiple courses throughout my undergrad, and now it’s been multiple semesters where people don’t have these strong connections with other people in their program because they’ve had an opportunity to be able to create those connections. And it’s so much like you learn so much from having to explain your thought process to someone else, but also hear their perspective on something might help you solidify your understanding of it. And those are just key things that you- again as you said – in some ways take for granted, but also might not actually realize how impactful they can be.

 

Rebecca Gagan: Absolutely. And I think that what you’re saying, Anthony, is that it’s not just that those are friendships and bonds that are formed. That is also part of the learning. So, when you’re saying that like, students working together to solve a problem or trying to talk out a scenario or a problem. Just the act of doing that is the learning, and those are all pieces. All of the pieces that form the whole picture of your education. And so, with this moved online learning, there’s a way in which a lot of that stuff has been filtered out. And so, yes, absolutely. And I think maybe that’s when I say take for granted; it’s like we forget that so much learning is happening in those relationships, and they’re so sustaining and supportive and necessary for all of those reasons. Yeah, I think we’re all just feeling the same way that we’re keen to obviously get back. And has there been anything that’s you found personally helpful for you, in terms of maybe combating the loneliness or that feeling of just being in that same environment and feeling boxed in?

 

Anthony Estey: I guess it depends. I guess it’s been where we’re at right now, it being February and the current kind of state of lockdowns versus last summer. It’s a little bit different. Like last summer, partly because of the rules and probably because of the weather, was still able to go out and go for a hike or a bike ride, and again, do these outdoor activities which were safe and again could still physically distance, but not socially distance again. Still socially be with friends and family, and kind of do some activities.

Whereas, again right now, with there being it snowing this month, it’s maybe been even more boxed in than usual. So yeah, I guess the thing for me that I’ve found, and this spans across undergrad, grad, and now my work life, is I feel like in terms of productivity on one hand, but also just overall kind of mental health and happiness, I feel like I need to break up like hours of work with something. I think it’s usually some sort of exercise. Like when I was an undergrad, I played lots of like intermural soccer, just because it was something that you can go, you run around for an hour, and you can come back and do a little bit more studying afterwards, and it breaks it up really nicely.

 

But I guess it has a social thing where we can kind of go out and talk. And I guess on a more kind of personal thing, I often just go for a little jog. I feel like if I’m again stuck trying to solve a problem, if it was undergrad, or write a paragraph in some paper, and I just can’t get the words, I feel like often I can just go for a run. It can be 15 minutes, and all of a sudden those, “Oh, I can come back, and I’ve got it, and I can progress again.” I think it’s just spinning your tires and trying to do something for hours and hours on end. I think you can be productive for a while, but at least for me, I feel like that starts deteriorating, and I need to go out and do something and just to let my mind off it. And I think again, for me, with the sports, I think it’s also getting my heart rate going and sweating out a little bit helps again with my mental health and kind of just stress and stuff like that. And I think, again, I’m sure for other people, it might be like there’s a million other things. It could be playing an instrument, meditating, playing some other game or there’s so many things that people can do, but I think one of the issues for me–partly again because of where I am now– is throughout all aspects of my life, when I’m not super too busy or too stressed, I am good at plugging in these other activities again to keep things balanced. But I think again, when all of a sudden, I have five midterms in the same week in a class, it’s like I don’t have time to go for even a 20-minute run today. And I just need to study for this for an hour. And this for an hour, this for an hour one hour, and do this assignment. And it’s really easy to convince yourself that you don’t have time to do these other things that are like bonus things. When actually, I think taking a 20-minute break would actually make me way more productive in studying and probably help me sleep that night in the few hours I need to sleep, instead of tossing and turning still thinking about it.

 

So, I think that being stuck in a room makes that more difficult because it’s easily to schedule a run with someone after work. “Okay. I’m going to go. I’m going to be at school at this time. I’m teaching this time. I’ve got this break now, or then we can go and meet it this place.” And I think when you’re just inside the same room, and I’m kind of walking 10 feet to get breakfast and then coming back, and everything’s here it all kind of everything flows into one. And it’s hard to have these kind of barriers or blocks of your day. There is no transition between these different things, so it’s hard to sometimes schedule something like that.

 

Rebecca Gagan: Yeah. There’s no natural organization to your day because you’re saying those demarcations that you might get between class, like ending point from class, as you say, and then you make a plan to meet after class and go to this place. There isn’t that kind of schedule that gets produced, right? So, you have to make the schedule. And I think, as you’re saying, Anthony, is like being in — especially these days when you are sitting in front of the screen, and you only have to go like ten feet to go get something. And then it’s oh, well I might as well just come back. Like I was just talking to another faculty member today who was saying, “yes. I know I should get outside, but when I get a break in between Zoom meetings, then I kind of want to have something to eat or what have you. And I just don’t go, even though I know I should. And I think that you’ve created a really nice segue into– you’ve already been talking a bit about your own undergraduate experience, you know, trying to find balance, and I think what you’re starting to get at is how, now more than ever, there is a need to try to achieve that. As you know, this lockdown, this pandemic, has been so hard on students, and I think very tough on students in engineering and computer science, who have very heavy schedules. I’m wondering if you can share a bit more about your own experience, Anthony, as an undergrad and maybe some more about how you were really trying to cope with and figure out that balance.

 

Anthony Estey: I mean, first of all, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to do it as an undergrad, as a first-year, having everything online. Like I think for me again, having that structure of, okay, I need to wake up and go to UVic, and like physically be there to go to these classes. I feel like having to, again, just wake up and turn on my laptop and sign in to a Zoom. In the physical classrooms having to actually go up and do that, I think, was an important part of keeping me to that schedule. At that time of my life, kind of thinking back to myself as a 17, 18, 19-year-old, I think it would have been really difficult for me to do things online and keep to a schedule. So, in many ways, I don’t know how they do that, and I think it requires them to be so much more organized, so much more self-motivated than there was to be typically required by a first-year student. And I think part of being a first-year student is learning how to do all those things. I think coming out of high school, and when I think a lot of people are living at home, when there’s a little bit more guidance helping you to go to school on time and stuff like that.

 

I think part of the challenge of university in first year is having to control that yourself and do all the time management and scheduling and stuff yourself. And I think again high school is typically a very set schedule. There is already a little bit more flexibility in university schedules in terms of it’s not that you’re going from nine to three every day. It’s like Mondays you wake up early and Tuesdays possibly afternoon. So, I think now, with everything, just not having to go to physically go to school, it’s probably hard to keep to that schedule. And I guess there’s also courses that are synchronous and others that are asynchronous. And when things get really busy, the same thing that with me, that when I felt like I didn’t have time to go for a run, I feel like with an asynchronous class, it’s okay, I’ve got all these midterms today. I’ll watch that. I’ll watch that after I finished my midterms on the weekend. And I think something else I learned in my undergrad, maybe first year, sometimes the hard way, which is how important it is to go to every single lecture. Because I think at the start of the term, it just seems so easy to like [say], “okay, that’s my schedule.” It’s usually not that bad, but I think again, it’s always easier said than done as things are now.

I actually go to every single lecture, but I think holding myself to that was really important. And I think, and I don’t know if it’s necessarily because missing a lecture means that I was not going to be able to absorb that content as well. I think there’s just kind of other intangibles that are important to just maintain that schedule, going to that lecture and absorbing what I can, even if I’m super stressed because I’ve got other exams that day or crazy deadlines. And I think with the different ways that classes are being held, it’s so difficult to do that. If you’re supposed to, just schedule a time in the day to watch this. And so, that I think is again something else that when I try and put myself in the student’s shoes, I don’t even know how I’d manage. I mean, for me, a lot of the ways that I learned how to be a successful student were through trial and error, and it’s something that I’ve had the opportunity to try.

 

Rebecca Gagan: Yeah. I think what you’re saying, Anthony, here is that it’s just so important for students to hear this, in terms of being able to maybe give themselves a bit of a break, that what they’re being asked to do in terms of organizing their schedule and creating those routines is exactly, as you say, it’s something that you come to university to learn, to figure out. “Like, how I do this? Like, how do I become a university student? How do I become a student in the faculty of engineering and computer science,” right? That’s what you come to do. And so, what they’re being asked to do now, in this moment, is to somehow be able to do that so effectively. And you’re not the first faculty member who has said on this podcast, “I don’t think I could have done it if I were 18 and doing what they are doing now.” And so, with that in mind, I think what you’re saying, and certainly what I’m saying loud and clear, is that students need to know that what they are doing right now is so hard and that however, they can do it to get through this for now just to give themselves a break, that they’re doing the very best they can, under circumstances that are just so challenging.

 

Anthony Estey: Yeah, absolutely. I guess I should say is the way that I’m personally teaching my classes, I think, is certainly more time-consuming than a regular in-person lecture of students. So, I think not only is there these additional challenges in terms of like organizational challenges, the amount of time required for them to succeed in these courses might be higher. And so, in some ways, we’re demanding more for them on top of these other challenges because for my lectures, the way that I do it, is — I guess traditionally in an in-person lecture, I’d have some slides, and I’d introduce the concept, and then we’d work through some activities that kind of apply these skills solving some problems — but within this, I guess three hours of lecture per week, there would be the introduction. And then the problem solving within those three hours. And now, because I was worried about kind of internet connection issues and … I wanted students to be able to access the instructional content, and I was worried that again if my connection was poor and all of a sudden, they couldn’t hear something that I said that would be really detrimental to them.

 

So, I pre-recorded all the kinds of instructional content. And it’s usually, again, three-to-eight-minute videos, and there’s a couple of them like 20 to 30 minutes of video before each lecture. But what that’s now opened up is those three hours of lecture a week are now only working through exercises. So, kind of half of each lecture that was done going through slides and stuff is now something that’s done required for them to do before the lecture even starts. So, there’s homework that is not an assignment or a lab they have to do for grades, it’s just like its homework that they have to do just to participate in the lecture. And I think a little bit is if they don’t do this beforehand, then working through the exercises might not make a lot of sense because they’ve missed the instructions on what these things mean and do, so it means that they also need to make time in their day to do this pre-lecture to even get ready for the lecture, or all of the lectures might not even be very meaningful or useful for them. And that’s it, in addition to the already heavy workload that regular students would have had in a regular semester, students would have had with the weekly assignments and labs and whatnot. 

 

Rebecca Gagan: Yeah. And it’s the same in my classes as well, that there are certain things that I’ve had to offload to like asynchronous, like video, and then just so that they can be ready for the class and same thing. And I keep feeling, oh, well maybe, I reduced some assignments and things like that, but at the same time, it’s a different way of working, and it’s more work. And just speaking to your comment about your advice for students to, as much as possible, attend the face-to-face class when we can, and to also be trying to attend, any kind of live Zoom classes. You’re suggesting that there are intangibles. And I think part of that is that yes, it does help you to organize your time, but beyond that, as you’re saying, Anthony, it’s about those connections that you make and the learning that happens. In the classroom, with the person sitting beside you or what have you. And so, I always tell my students just come as you are, even if you’re like super tired and you haven’t read the book or what have you like just come because it will be valuable for you to just show up.

I think that it’s important for students to know that coming to lecture isn’t just for the content, it’s for the way in which it solidifies that experience of being in that class. So, was there anything, Anthony, when you were an undergrad, in times when you could be there face-to-face and experience class in that way, was there anything that you found was really helpful in trying to create balance?

 

Anthony Estey: I guess. I’m trying to think of the creating balance. I think probably more with the connections I made with other people, again, physically going to class. That’s where I’d probably form a subset of a schedule with people about, “okay, here’s how busy I am on today, why don’t we meet at this time to work through this assignment?” and stuff like that. I guess something else you mentioned talking about the intangibles that thinking back, I guess there was a lot of stuff where the instructor says something, and I ask the person beside me. So, I interpret it this way, then they interpret another way. I think, again those smaller discussions, I think, certainly helps solidify my understanding of so many things, which aren’t necessarily things that the instructor says that I learned from the instructor by going to ask, but again, just like maybe being part of the discussion and hearing other questions that are asked and, and talking about those kind of more privately with the person you are sitting beside, which I think at least in computer science and in my in-person classes there usually are quite a few opportunities where I say, okay, let’s talk about this with the person beside you. And again, a lot of those aren’t necessarily opportunities for them to learn from me because I realized that you can learn so much from the people around you. And I think another thing that I feel like it’s important with computer science, I’m not sure how important is for other things is, well, we’re applying something like a topic we just learned applying it through problem-solving. I think jumping straight to the solution isn’t always the best way for learning. Like I think talking about an approach that ultimately didn’t lead to the right solution can actually be really meaningful as well.

Yeah, that’s a really good approach. Let’s talk about this, but kind this is where maybe it doesn’t really result in what we want, and I think just always seeing the right way to do something is, yeah, that’s great that you know that, but again, when you’re then doing these on your own in the assignment like you might go off in the wrong direction. And if you’ve already been exposed to that in a lecture or talked about that with other people, then you also learn about why the other approaches aren’t right, which I think is sometimes as important as learning just that right approach. So, there’s all these other things that happened indirectly from going to those lectures and participating in those activities, that you can’t even get by maybe a lecture recording of just what the instructor said, because it’s about all those mini discussions that occur. And those are something that I haven’t been able to do with Zoom. I mean, there’s the chatbox, and there are some really good questions and we can, based on some of the ideas from there, I can talk about why you would make one approach or another, but there aren’t those multiple little small groups that I can walk around and highlight some of those discussions at the front so everyone can see all these different, kind of like little micro discussions and what people talked about and pull those altogether. It’s much more difficult to do that on Zoom. I kind of veered away from the balance question.

 

Rebecca Gagan: Okay. Oh, that’s okay. And, but in fact, in some ways, you’re talking Anthony about how it’s important to pay attention to when you’re solving a problem, and I know you’re speaking literally here about a problem in a piece of code or something like that, but I think you’re also speaking figuratively if I can go in that direction when you’re saying that, if we look at those paths that maybe aren’t working. So, if a student also, in terms of thinking about balancing in their own life, and we’ve talked about how students are trying to figure out like how to do this thing called university, that there’s also so much value that comes from looking at and reflecting on your own approaches, and what’s working for you and what’s not working for you, and spending some time thinking about, like this way of approaching my studies, or my way of living as a computer science student is not working. And so, there’s value in reflecting on that. And it’s a bit cliched now to talk about, of course, like I was trying to solve problems and where the failures are and learning from the failures. I know that’s a big Silicon Valley thing to do, so I’m not going to be too cliched and go there, but I do think that your comments apply, I think more broadly, to students approach their studies and especially right now, where, yeah, there are some stuff that is just not going to work. And that we’ll take those lessons forward into when we’re all able to be face-to-face again. But it’s also trial and error, as you say. So, you know, really trying to figure out what works for you as a student?

 

Anthony Estey: Yeah, I mean, I’ve talked about how I use trial and error as a student, but I guess in some ways there’s also a bit of that, and the students are being exposed to our trial and error as educators. Again, not in the sense that we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this transition to online, and certainly again, the way I’ve done some assignments and some kind of things online have been that, “okay. I hope that this is going to work.” And sometimes students say that didn’t work or it can change it in this way. I think each term there has been tweaks I’ve done that are not even course-content related. Just in how certain things are delivered or how I do certain quizzes or certain questions on exams. And, we’ve had years of seeing how these courses were run to tweak and do this in the in-person settings.

 

And then all of a sudden, especially the people that maybe the summer group or I guess whenever an instructor’s first semester online was — again these instructors are doing the best they can — but there is an amount of trial and error from the instructor’s perspective. Again, I hope that this type of question is interpreted correctly and filled out correctly and that the system works correctly and all these things that often I think go at least from my courses like in terms of the assignments and the exams, there hasn’t been any kind of catastrophic failures or crashes. But certainly, every exam I’ve had I’ve realized, like the way that people do this in this online system is more like this, so maybe I should have given them more time, or maybe I should have put this in an image, or maybe I shouldn’t put this in an image, or all these different little things that are so difficult to know how to get them right the first try.

 

Rebecca Gagan: Yeah. And as you say, like giving each other some grace, both for the students giving themselves some grace and space for error and same thing, right? Like we’re trying, it’s trial and error. We’re trying something new and still learning and try to hope for the best that we’re getting it right. But, it’s still that process of trying to learn from the paths that didn’t work. So, anything, if you were to leave students — I guess this is going to be a two-parter question — but if you were to leave students with some words of support for right now as they’re learning online, what might that be? But also, maybe words for the future for when we’re face to face. I’m wondering, what advice you might offer to students as they’re making their way through their computer science or engineering degrees, or any students at this university, or at any university? Really?

 

Anthony Estey: I guess, for the advice right now, it’s almost the same advice I’m telling myself, and it’s mostly just to hang in there. I feel like, as I said, I’m trying to make this online learning work as best I can, but I think in many ways, I think last April, I was hoping, “okay, it’s going to be, it’s going to be the summer semester.” and now again, that’s obviously stretched. And, I certainly think as I’m doing my own kind of course development, assignment development there, there are ways I’m like, “oh I think this is going to work. And I hope this is a good learning experience for them,” but in many ways, I’m also thinking I wish I could, like in-person or I can do this activity in the lab, and get them to do this together. There are so many things that I always want to be able to do this, so it is a lot of just hang in there and do the best you can right now. And certainly, for me in the summer, because I was teaching two courses I hadn’t taught before. For me, it was like in a typical semester, I’d have to come up with the size of my own. Like I had slide sets from previous terms, but I didn’t know, again, on a given side of three bullet point, is it 15 seconds per bullet point, the instructor use, or is this five minutes each and you really go really deep into itself? I think again, just creating the slides and knowing how much to focus on each different topic is one thing. But then for me, it was then creating the videos, which I had done really no video creation or editing before and then, and thinking about, “okay, now that got all this extra time in the lecture, what types of activities should I do that to build off this?”

 

So, for me, it was for the first while in the summer, it was just like; basically 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM of just creating, just like the content and every day and panicking that I wasn’t going to get these videos done in time. And again, I realized, again that balance I needed to it was better for me, both in terms of my productivity, getting these things done and for my own like mental health, like I need to get out for an hour and go for a bike ride or do something. So, I think as, as stressful as it is for students, Again, I think there are a lot of instructors are feeling that same stress, but for me personally, I think the best way to get through it is remembering how important it is to do these other things that help you unwind. And again, that’s different for everyone. It’s not going for a run for everyone. Going and reading a book, doing some meditation or just going and lying down to letting yourself relax, even if you’re feeling like you don’t have that time, I think often you’d be surprised that doing this, whatever this activity is that helps you unwind, will help.

I guess, it will reinvigorate you to be able to jump back into it and be more productive when you go back. And often, I can’t explain why, but often when I do these, I actually do have one of these light bulb moments where I was working on something I couldn’t quite get it, and then I almost stopped thinking about it, but I’m sure that there’s still some something happening in there that is something still spinning, and then I get there without actually really having it as my central focus. So, I think it can actually, in those types of ways, as well.

 

Rebecca Gagan: Absolutely. It frees up some other part of your brain when you’re doing it. And then it’s, as you say, it’s still churning away in there, but you come to it differently, which is why, like so many philosophers, recommend just walking, right? Like Immanuel Kant, like just walking around and try, and then ideas would come. And I find that very much too, and I tell my students when they’re trying to write an essay, and they can’t find their argument. I’m like, oh, just walk away and go for a walk, go do something else. And then you’ll be surprised. It will come to you. It’s percolating in there. And, and, and yeah, and I think Anthony, your advice I think is so relevant for now. But I think you’re saying it’s also important, whenever, like when we’re back face to face, that you if you have five midterms in a week, you still schedule in the time and push yourself to walk away from your study and go do something else. And that that will be — I think we can recognize there are times when yes, we’re completely out of balance. And sometimes that’s really like necessary, but I think trying your very best to, for your own health and wellbeing to, as you say, to schedule in those breaks that you’re not sitting in front of your books studying for 10 hours.

 

Anthony Estey: It’s very difficult to stay productive for 10 hours straight. Your brain needs a break.

 

Rebecca Gagan: Your brain needs a break. And I think it’s also, as you’ve been saying, like it’s about trying to establish, not just like the habits of trying to figure out how to be a university student and to be productive and happy and healthy that’s very much trial and error, but it’s also about lifelong sort of habits, right? You know, as faculty members now, working through this pandemic, we are also trying to hone those skills and those habits, and like reminding ourselves, “yes, like you know you need to take a break,” and this stuff goes back to being a student ourselves. I have found that with my work habits and everything else, I have to remind myself of what’s good for me. And you know, still working on establishing healthy routines and things like that. Well, it’s been such a pleasure talking with you today, Anthony, and I just really appreciate your sharing of your own experience, both as a student but really what you’ve been working with this past year. And I know that it will be really helpful and supportive to students. So, thank you very much.

 

Anthony Estey: Yeah, thank you. This was great coming on and having a chat. 

 

Rebecca Gagan: In next week’s episode of Waving, Not Drowning. I talk with Brittany Halverson-Duncan, an assistant teaching professor in the department of mathematics and statistics here at UVic. In our conversation, Brittany shares with me her experience of being a student who was really living with financial stress. She talks about how she was sometimes working multiple jobs while studying and how she dealt with what is such a very real challenge for so many students, which is trying to pay for one’s education and needing to work in order to do so. Brittany shares how she’s learned and continues to learn how to have compassion for herself. And now how she has compassion for her students and really tries to remind them that they don’t have to do all the things, that there is nothing more important than their health and wellbeing. And that sometimes that means stepping back from your study. In order to put your own needs first. I really hope that you’ll join me next week for these powerful conversations. 

 

You can stream Waving, Not Drowning on anchor FM, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Please follow us on Instagram at UVic Bounce, where you can send us your comments, your thoughts, your ideas. We’d love to hear from you.  Thanks so much for tuning in.

 

Until next time. 

 

Be well.