Guide for Faculty
We’re returning to campus this fall, but, given all that we’ll be bringing with us from the pandemic experience, this semester won’t be business as usual. We’ll need to approach our courses with deliberate attention to lessons learned over the last year and a half and particular sensitivity to student well-being. We’ve gathered resources here to help you get ready, and we’ve grouped them to make it easier to navigate to what you need.
First, we’ve shared a list of considerations below that may help orient you as we all transition together. Second, we’ve outlined new protocols that you’ll be putting into practice in the classroom. A third section explores particular issues and opportunities that will arise when teaching this year’s unique group of first-year students. Fourth, we’ve gathered some of what we learned about best teaching practices during the pandemic. The fifth resource is about building community in an inclusive classroom, which will be particularly important as we come back together after a long time apart. Finally, for those who are teaching in a hybrid format, we’ve pulled together resources focused on that mode of teaching.
Here are some major concepts to keep in mind as we return to teaching and learning anew this fall.
Attention span. Hopefully, you’ve seen the many articles on how stress and loss of differentiation in our days has influenced our attention spans, which are remarkably short to start.
Attendance expectations. Students will be feeling their way through a ‘new normal.’ Falling ill may present newfound anxiety; expectations around attendance should be clearly stated on syllabi, course sites, and in class. Consider how you can use what you learned last year to help smooth the transition.
Meet students where they are. Fear of learning loss and lack of preparation are anxieties facing us all. Students had a variety of experiences during the pandemic and taking time to learn about where they are may help you achieve a successful course. Consider surveying your students and reserving class time to hear their reflections on how the year affected their skill-building.
Take the time to connect students with campus resources. Students may have felt disconnected from resources for quite a chunk of their time in college. Go out of your way to ensure they know where to seek and find help.
Build community. We learned new ways to do this in 2020 and beyond. We know how important it is, and we know our students have lost time in the typical college experience of developing close in-person friendships and mentoring relationships with faculty. Consider mandating office hours, holding group office hours, and continuing to hold some via phone or Zoom.