Education: Meet Jared, a Professor at Cascadia College in Bothell, WA

Interviewer: Vy Nguyen; June 19, 2020

Interviewee: Jared Leising, English Professor @ Cascadia College in Bothell

Cascadia College is located in Bothell, WA (Cascadia College).

Could you tell us more about who you are?

I'm a father, a husband, a tennis player, a writer, and am originally from the Midwest. I was born in Kansas, then moved to Illinois (suburb of Chicago), then moved to a small town in Iowa (LeMars, which is the Ice Cream Capital of the World), and I went to college in Tacoma and Houston.

What do you teach?

I teach English and Humanities classes, specifically English Composition I & II, as well as creative classes like Writing Poetry & Fiction, as well as Culture Studies.

Which class did you have the easiest or hardest time transitioning online with?

I think the poetry class was the hardest because students typically do face-to-face workshops and this helps build chemistry in the class. Plus, poetry is often a personal art form for most people and building community in a classroom that enables people to feel safe to share their work was much harder to do this quarter.

"Poetry is often a personal art form for most people and building community in a classroom that enables people to feel safe to share their work was much harder to do this quarter."

What changes have you made in your classes to better work with an online system?

I've found ways to focus on the essentials in what we're doing. What matters most? I ask myself that question a lot. Also, using discussions on Canvas and Zoom for the first time in teaching. Additionally, I tried to find ways to create a regular schedule of various things being done on a schedule (M/W/F). I did this because for some students, the structure that face-to-face teaching creates gives them this and they were without it in an online environment. I also was very flexible with late work. It's more important that students do the reading, assignments, etc. than getting them in at a precise date.

What do you miss most about life/ teaching before the pandemic?

I miss seeing my students in person, and seeing people's reactions in the moment--as a whole class and with each other in small groups. I miss seeing students on campus and greeting them. I've met so many people through teaching and feel like I'm part of a community when I'm on campus.

How do you feel about 2020? Have you experienced any year like this?

I think about the concept and saying that hindsight is 2020. In some ways it's easy to understand what's happening based on all we've learned about why it's happened, but what are we going to do going forward. As we head into summer, I'm worried people will stop engaging in the lessons learned from social distancing I'm worried the power fo protest will subside and changes we need to happen will be watered down. I remember 9/11 and was teaching at Casadia at the time, as well as the Nisqually earthquake we experienced, but this is different in ways I'm still trying to understand. Even today, standing in protest for Black Lives Matter, I heard people saying they were having trouble breathing with their masks on and that connection between the two pandemics (racism and COVID) is powerful and curious.

How do you feel about everything that is going on right now? Specifically, issues relating to the pandemic, the BlackLivesMatter movement, and other contemporary struggles?

See my answer above. I'm concerned our passion won't continue. On Tuesday, I saw a George Floyd 4 Ever graffiti painted near I-5 and asked my son how long he thinks that will last, and on Thursday when we drove by it again, he pointed out to me it was gone. It was kind of symbolic. I don't want to lose the momentum the world-wide protests have given us.

"I don't want to lose the momentum the world-wide protests have given us."

If you could time travel to any time period, past or present, which time period would you pick and what would you do there?

Not sure. I think there's a way in which I would like to be in the west as the country was expanding.

Have you picked up any interest/hobbies/skills because of the extra time at home? What are they?

No, mostly just helping my kids with their schoolwork, which has helped me learn more about what they're doing on a day-to-day basis.

Who is a creative figure that you admire the most and why (musicians, artist, inventors, teachers, authors, etc)?

I've been inspired by Bryan Stevenson, lawyer and found of the Equal Justice Initiative. He has taught me that to understand the most important things, we need to get close to them. Bryan talks about getting "proximate." For me this has manifested in teaching writing in jail and prison in Washington state.

What is one of advice to anyone who is in need of advice?

Get proximate to people who are suffering. You will learn a lot about yourself and others.