In stepping into the role of President as of March 21, I’ve opted to take a slightly different tack in communicating with you. Our newsletter has been phased out and we are putting more emphasis on social media messaging, but we also know that not all of you engage in those media, so I’m going old school with my messages. On a somewhat regular basis, I will communicate with you directly via a members’ email.

Please know I am thinking of each of you as you tackle the daily challenges of supporting our instructors, teaching courses in new formats, and navigating the complexities of institutional decision-making in an unprecedented time. 

I am also mindful that many, if not all of you, are working from home, which often means working while also caring for yourselves and others. Before COVID-19, working from home was something I looked forward to once a week. My basement isn’t looking so appealing day after day, but I am fortunate to have a space where I’m able to work (mostly) in peace. I recognize, though, that this is not everyone’s experience. I do believe, however, that we are all doing as much as we can, in spite of our environments, as we learn new ways to do our work (let’s hear it for tools like Zoom, MS Teams, and the telephone!) and think deeper than ever about our students and how to support their learning.

I also wanted to highlight a few updates from the POD Network:

Our Spring Core Committee meeting, scheduled for March 20-21, was postponed. This meeting, typically done face-to-face twice a year, could not happen even virtually in March. At Core meetings, the elected members come together to review and vote on committee and special interest group (SIG) requests. We also engage in training and team-building activities. The Spring meeting includes a vote on our annual budget. As such, our Core meeting will occur virtually before the end of June (our fiscal year end). More details coming soon, but know that we are working on budget projections to address these uncertain times.

Conference planning continues! Many thanks to this year’s conference team for being open to pivoting how we offer this event if face-to-face is not possible. We are in good hands and recognize the importance of the professional development that our members gain from our annual conference. So please keep working on your proposals as you find time — the new deadline is April 30.

More webinars! Our Professional Development Committee (PDC) is also working on ways to support you in your work. Our PODLive! webinar format has already been used for a session on teaching in emergency situations. Another COVID-19-focused webinar is happening April 8 as a place to share ideas and connect with your POD Network community. Please contact our Executive Director, Hoag Holmgren, with ideas for additional ways we can help you.

Finally, I want to thank the many members of our POD Discussion Group who have shared resources and information. You ensure that this group remains an outstanding way to ask for guidance and disseminate experiences and emerging practices. Our members come from a vast array of schools and organizations, so a variety of stories are welcome. Please share!

Stay safe, Donna

Dr. Donna Ellis

POD Network President
Director, Centre for Teaching Excellence
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON Canada
donnae@uwaterloo.ca