Hey there! I am really glad you stopped by our page to read this post. I hope you are well as you are reading this.
Sitting in my remote office (my living room) thinking about what to write, I realize that everything recently has been leading up to March 23. Everyone, instructors and students alike, will be trying something new while also coping with the anxiety and isolation of our current situation. Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Steve Cramer encouraged us in an email message yesterday to consider this upcoming week as “a week of transition and grace.” Those words really spoke to me, and so in the name of kicking off this week, I would like to share some considerations towards being graceful with each other during this transition.
Lead with empathy:
We are all dealing with a novel situation in many ways. Stress is high and uncertainty is everywhere. Familiar settings and support networks are no longer immediately accessible in the same ways they were before. We can all lend a little good will to each other, but don’t forget to treat yourself with some extra grace, too. We all acknowledge that these are extraordinary times, no one is expecting perfection. We will get through this together.
In uncertain times, having as much transparency as possible can help yourself and students to feel less anxious about the situation. Tell them your backup plan. If you aren’t sure what to do, you can communicate with your students and get their feedback. Communicate early and often and encourage the same of your students and coworkers. It will help you to know what’s working and what’s not.
Be patient with people and technology:
Tools used for web conferencing and video hosting will be experiencing an increased load as universities and schools all across the country will be turning to them to deliver instruction. The teams that provide and support these tools are doing their best to increase capacity and resources, but there are things you can do to help. Duration of session/video, number of participants, and file size will all affect not only your ability to present streaming content without issue, but also your students’ ability to interact with it. Your students may not all have quality internet connection they experienced on campus. Asynchronous methods will allow them to use your learning materials when they can access them. If students give you feedback that something isn’t working, try to be flexible.
Have a backup plan:
Think about what you would like your students to do if your synchronous session disconnects. What will you do if this frustrating situation happens? Trying to reconnect over and over again will cause even more frustration and students might disengage. However, switching method to a discussion board in Piazza, or giving students a few practice problems to try on their own while you regroup offline can help to make the best of the situation. Communicate these backup plans to students so they know if they should stick around or email or regroup in another tool. If your videos are difficult for students to watch online, providing a transcript can help students to narrow down which parts of the video are must-see.
If you are feeling anxious, need help formulating a back up plan, or have questions about anything teaching and learning related, please reach out to CEETE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will all get through this together.
Take care and be well,
Erica and the CEETE Team