The Transit of Transitions; or, Before, Afterward, Sometimes, Simultaneously

by Sarah Norek

At the ASC, I coordinate the Transition Communication Campaign (TCC): a series of weekly emails that are sent over the course of a year to first year (FY) and new-to-OSU transfer (TR) students. The campaign was designed to support students through timely academic support and advising information, as well as other resources and strategies to help them navigate and succeed in the university setting.

Since taking the project on in 2019, I’ve been able to roll-over content relatively easily term-to-term. Beginning last spring, however, and throughout this year, I’ve worked to adapt messaging to reflect the current COVID-19 context and its complex and evolving impacts on student life and experience. I’ve thought a lot about how to use the TCC to support students during this unique time. Here are some key ideas I continually return to:

Reflection

Nearly all TCC messages invite some kind of reflection, asking students to tap into their incredible knowledge and expertise of themselves. We are all so electric, so full of experiences, our narratives so unique to us. Self-awareness offers the opportunity to ground ourselves in our transition experience—to recognize discomfort, to uncover its roots, to work to address it, or to sit with it and progress through it, and of course, to learn what’s working for us and how. In asking students to reflect, I invite them to recognize the incredible work and energy they’re putting forth; to listen to their experience; and to be open to the potential adaptation in strategies and approaches to study, work, self-care, and more.

Resources

I spotlight resources in each TCC for two reasons (and more): 1) to help students become familiar with their many resource options early in their time at OSU, and 2) to impart the value of help help-seeking and asking questions—especially when navigating the transition to university-level learning (and all the subsequent transitions from course to course, discipline to discipline, etc.). As many of this year’s new students transition into OSU remotely, accessing resources can be even more important. Support, connection, and community are especially crucial to well-being these days and when making a remote transition into the university.

Repetition

Transition can be consuming; it can be a whirlwind. This means sometimes pertinent information—no matter how helpful—might not land after a single introduction. Sometimes we need repetition and the opportunity to encounter and explore information a few times before it sticks. Whether it’s a university process, encouragement to meet with an advisor, or a reminder to be generous with themselves—repetition may help students encounter the important information when they are ready to explore or act on that information. We use repetition not just for important dates or reminders, but also for acknowledging and validating what students are experiencing. I want students to hear and internalize that the OSU community cares about who and how they are.

Looking Ahead

What’s funny to me is that, in all of this transition messaging, the fact that spring term will be our year anniversary of remote operations didn’t really hit me until quite recently. Like, quite. I’ve carved out very little time to consider my own transition(s) over the past year. Adapting the TCC to fit students’ current needs offers, in retrospect, an opportunity for me to reflect on my own experience and needs, too. Just as I hope students will engage in reflection and tap into self-awareness, I too can benefit from contemplating what kind of spring I want to create, what I can offer, how I’ll show up and for whom, and what I can hold onto—in terms of mindset, productivity, strategies—or else cut loose.

In the process of drafting this, it was pointed out to me that repetition is a form of support—a way of allowing ourselves grace as we navigate an ever-changing landscape. It’s okay, and important, to keep repeating the questions, returning to the thinking, listening and trying to make this reflective practice routine. As for resources, I can take the TCC’s advice and actively seek them out, too. These days, my colleagues and teammates are my core resources. It’s surprisingly easy to work in isolation, and surprisingly (for me, an introvert) lonely. I’ve been trying to reimagine and create new shared spaces, while considering boundaries and vulnerability, hungry to feed these connections while not furthering anyone’s fatigue.

Whether you’re contemplating your own experience with transitions, or providing support for others as they navigate transitions, I offer these thoughts not as a prescriptive route through the work but because I hope they present opportunities for our individual experiences to be explored, supported, and validated along the way.

Preparing for Mentorship: Building a Successful Relationship

By Anika Lautenbach

The CEOAS Academic Mentoring Program (AMP), co-coordinated by Robert Allan and Erin Lieuallen, provides opportunities for undergraduate mentees to work with graduate mentors. Graduate students volunteer to mentor undergraduate students and provide support and guidance as they navigate topics like their area of study, graduate programs, and career planning.

Over the past couple years, Clare and I have facilitated a foundational training that prompts mentors to think about what they can do to support their mentee and have a successful relationship. This year, Robert and Erin wanted to provide space for mentees to prepare for mentorship as well. This was a great opportunity to think collaboratively with mentors and mentees about what it means to create an effective mentoring relationship.

We liked the idea of creating more intentionality around the mentorship process and helping others think about the type of mentoring relationship they wanted. Ultimately that became the common thread for in both training sessions: how can we support mentors and mentees in preparing for their work together so the approach to the mentorship relationship can be intentional and individualized?

Preparation for Mentors

When we first connected with Robert, he was interested in providing mentor training that would equip mentors with a “toolkit” of skills to use in their work with mentees. He observed that while “many understand the idea of mentoring and believe it is important…most have not had any formal training that provides a foundation of knowledge to guide their support.” In training mentors, our goal was to name and validate foundational skills they use in other contexts and build off those existing skills and knowledge. We also wanted to help mentors individualize their approach to the specific student and situation.

To prepare CEOAS mentors for their roles, Robert asked them to first complete Unit 1 of the Peer Educator Training. This unit provides the foundational elements for working with someone, including listening and being present, asking questions and prompting thinking, seeking clarification, validating others, and building self-awareness. We built on this foundation with additional training.

During the training, we asked mentors to consider their experiences being supported by another person and what worked about that relationship. This gave them a chance to hear from each other about the range of experiences and how relationships look different depending on the needs and strengths of people in that partnership. This was important for shifting thinking from a default position about mentorship toward a position of learning about their mentee and what will work for them. We also normalized taking time to build trust and encouraged mentors and mentees to have conversations about the mentoring relationship and their expectations.

While those talking points are fairly common in trainings that we have done with mentors, we don’t usually have the chance to talk with mentees as well.

Preparation for Mentees

This dual-training approach of working with mentors and mentees gave us an opportunity to synchronize expectations and communication practices. Erin described a key aspect of the training: “mentees benefited from having a clearer set of expectations for the program as well as the opportunity for guided or self-reflection of what they would like to gain from mentorship.”

In the session, we wanted to hear what “mentorship” meant to mentees and what they hoped to get out of their experience. Just as we had with mentors, we acknowledged that there was no “one-size-fits-all approach” to mentorship—establishing the expectation of mentors and mentees building the relationship together. Clare and I shared our experiences with mentorship, including the great support and tools mentorship can offer, as well as limitations of that support. Through this session, we helped mentees see that mentors are just one piece of their support network.

Toward the end of our session, we asked mentees to prepare for their first meeting, reflect on questions they had for mentors, and consider what to share about themselves. We were excited to see the range of topics within the Zoom chat. This mentee-focused session gave mentees their own set of tools for working with their mentor and sharing the type of support they were looking for in that relationship.

Looking Forward

It’s been a great opportunity working with CEOAS and thinking about the mentoring relationship. We’ve especially appreciated Robert and Erin’s focus on being intentional and building the conversational skills for successful mentoring. We’re looking forward to learning how these skill sessions impact the mentorship currently taking place in the AMP program.

Staff Picks: Technology Tips

Working remotely, our team is often share technology tips, tricks, and shortcuts with each other. Sometimes these are found through careful research when “there must be a faster way…” Other times, we find these gems completely by accident. Here, we offer up some of our favorites—both old friends and recent discoveries.

Clare

With two screens and a lot of open tabs and windows, I’m often trying to stay organized and find what I’m working on during a conversation (particularly when sharing my screen!). I’ve been improving my use of the Windows + keyboard shortcuts. There are a range of these described on this webpage, but I’ll recommend my two favorites: Windows+P which allows you to change your display/presentation mode quickly without going into settings and Windows+Left arrow or right arrow to use the “side-by-side docking” options for two different windows.

Marjorie

I love shortcuts! Here are a few of my favorites and/or most-used shortcuts.

  • Ctrl+L: Locking the screen. Be the shield!
  • Ctrl+D: Accessing my desktop.
  • Shift+F3: Selecting text, then using this shortcut to switch between lower case, UPPER CASE, and Title Case.
  • Ctrl+Shift+F9: Selecting text, then using this shortcut to remove hyperlinks

Anna

I often use several programs at once, so I love using the Alt+Tab shortcut (Command + Tab on Mac) to quickly toggle between windows. To use this shortcut, hold Alt continuously while pressing Tab until the window you want is outlined. Then simply release the keys to access that window. You can also use Alt+Tab to quickly close multiple windows, which is what I do to maintain a decluttered workspace and stay organized.

Chris G.

My unsung tech hero is Ctrl+F. Many of us have used it in word processing to find specific words, which often moves us to the chapter/section we are looking for, but this shortcut also works for more common situations like internet browsing, .pdfs, and even entire e-books! (though Acrobat reader still has some difficulty at times). Paired with excel, Ctrl+F helps me easily navigate between spreadsheets and workbooks. Now if I could only Ctrl+F for my keys and wallet… and sometimes my shoes.

Sarah

I don’t feel particularly tech savvy, but I used to get a lot of NAs when I used VLOOKUP and have been able to solve that problem by applying F4 after I’ve selected my table array; this makes it so that the column and the row reference can’t change. Very satisfying. I’ve also been using the TRIM option to help convert ONIDs to IDs in Core; first, in Excel, I apply the TRIM formula to remove any extra spaces; then, in CORE, I receive a more complete list of IDs.

Voyages of the Soul

While perhaps slightly hyperbolic, I’m forging ahead with this title, courtesy of the Random Title Generator. This after a lengthy brainstorming session via Teams and mulling over a number of compelling options from the generator. Clare didn’t feel that “Wizard of History” was a fair representation of what I’d written, and I felt that “Eye of Thoughts” was too Mordor. So here we are with “Voyages of the Soul.”

The new year always seems like a time for reflection on the past year, though reflection right now feels challenging. While I am not offering a reflective deep dive that encompasses all the learning and thinking I’ve done this past year, I would like to share a few things that have helped me navigate working remotely the past 10 months and that I hope to continue moving forward post-COVID/remote work.

Flexibility (no crisis required). Flexibility shouldn’t require a crisis. While I usually try to have flexibility in classes I teach, I’ve been more intentional this past year—requiring fewer assignments, offering options for engagement, grading complete/incomplete. Students often believe that any request for flexibility is a big ask—even when they’re dealing with the unimaginable. From the instructor side of thing, the ask is often small and easily accomplished. I hold onto the idea that students shouldn’t have to ask. If I can build in flexibility from the onset, I can establish it as a norm rather than an exception.

Less urgency. So often everything feels urgent. Emails, asks, the 10-week term. And while some things are urgent, many things don’t need to be. I’m trying to push back on that culture of urgency, become more aware of its relationship to power, and be mindful of how I contribute to this culture. The more I look, the more opportunities I find to be slow down, create boundaries, and make space for myself and for others to work in more manageable ways.

Music. And dancing. As I write this, I’m at a standing desk with wireless headphones, dancing. Many afternoons this past year have been improved through music and dancing. I’ve been fortunate to work from home, and that set-up process challenged me to think about workspace in a new way—to imagine what it could be. Now, this whole set-up may have to come back to campus with me. Waldo Hall dance party.

Time between meetings. While it’s now possible to transition between meetings with a few mouse clicks, back-to-back-to-back meetings are not good for us. Days with 5 or 6 meetings in a row, constantly on screen, are exhausting. I imagine this is equally hard on students in remote classes. I’m trying to be mindful of the meetings I’m leading, time needed, and how I can encourage people to engage in ways that work for them. Sometimes brief audio calls or Teams messages are enough. When an hour is scheduled, I’m working to end meetings at :50 and keep transition time between conversations.

Community. In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). To achieve that goal, I needed to write every day. Knowing Clare was also committed to daily writing provided solidarity. Evening writing sprints on Discord connected me with others in the same process. And Sarah’s check-ins, excitement for the project, responsiveness to random writing questions, and encouragement were so helpful. As I plan for future projects and as I support others in their planning, I’ll be looking for more connection points and ways we can create a stronger community of support and encouragement along the way.

These are just a few of my reflection points, but I’ll be adding to my list in the coming months. I’d also love to hear from you if you’d like to share! What have you learned about your work? Or about supporting students? What are you holding onto moving forward? Feel free to email me a short description that we could include in a spring issue of The Success Kitchen.

Experience as an Online Student

by Anika Lautenbach

This is my second year in the Adult & Higher Education master’s program here at OSU, which transitioned from being hybrid to completely online a couple years ago. Through this experience, I have developed awareness of what instructors do that help me feel more engaged and supported and better able to succeed as an online student. I’d like to share a few of those insights with you.

Instructor Presence

The first thing I notice when I start a new class is whether the instructor has introduced themselves. My preference is an introductory video, though a voice recording and/or photo can be effective too. What I like about the video is that it allows me to imagine my instructor when I read their comments, announcements, and feedback. It humanizes that interaction for me and makes me more likely to reach out for connection and support.

My favorite instructor posted video announcements every week. It was fun to see him and get a sense of what we could expect from the upcoming week. It also helped me develop more flexibility with my expectations, since I felt like I knew him and could trust that he was doing everything he could to support our learning.

Conversations Early in the Term

As a student, I often think about what I can do to feel more connected to and engaged with what I’m learning. It helps to meet with my instructors at least once during the term – typically when the term starts. This often includes brief introductions and a conversation about how classes are going for me, what I’m excited or nervous about regarding this particular class, and what I need to be successful. Having this initial conversation makes me feel more comfortable reaching out later, especially if instructors create space for a meet-and-greet early in the term.

Contributions to Discussions

Online students are typically asked to complete many discussion board posts and responses. When you’re taking a class in a physical classroom, the instructor typically responds when students share their thoughts and perspectives. It helps when instructors do this online as well. As a student, I feel supported when an instructor comments on my posts, whether they are praising something I said or challenging me to think deeper. I look forward to reading my instructor’s perspective – it makes me feel like the instructor is there with us. I also appreciate that it models effective discourse for the class—so students see positive forms of engagement and how replies keep the conversation going.

Transparent Communication

It also really helps me when instructors are transparent with their communication throughout the term, like letting us know if it might take longer to respond to emails or other requests. If a busy time of term comes up, a brief announcement about availability lets us know the instructor is still here—they just need more time to get feedback to us.

Invitations to Engage

Finally, I appreciate when instructors provide feedback that ends with an invitation to share questions and keep talking about assignments. I try to respond to instructor feedback on assignments. I’m not sure if students always realize they can do this—that it creates connection and supports how much they learn from assignments. The instructor invitation reminds me that the feedback is a starting point and a way to begin an engaging conversation.

Additional Perspectives on Supporting Remote & Online Learning

I recognize that creating community and connection online can be challenging, and that it is even harder now given the conditions that have caused so many of us to learn and work remotely. Thanks for everything you’re doing to support students as they meet the challenge of remote and online learning.

For additional perspectives from undergraduate students, check out our Student Staff Picks: Instructor Support.

Student Staff Picks: Instructor Support

In fall term, we asked Academic Success Center and Writing Center student staff to contribute their thoughts on this prompt: “What is one thing an instructor did to support you in fall term?” Click the visual below to see the full-size image with responses.

To learn more about the student experience, review the results of the Remote Learning Experience Survey from November 2020 at https://beav.es/Jiy (Internal to OSU; sign-in required through Box).

Student Staff Picks

Embedding Learning Strategies in Your Course

by Clare Creighton

In my 12 years at the Academic Success Center (ASC), I’ve enjoyed teaching dozens of sections of ALS 116: Academic Success. This course helps students develop skills and strategies for success in college-level learning environments. The course includes topics like time management, metacognition, and effective study strategies—all topics that students apply to courses they’re taking.

ALS 116 is an absolute delight to teach, but my favorite approach to teaching learning strategies is embedding strategies into the context of a specific course. In fact, I would argue that every course has the opportunity to help students make connections between learning strategies and what it means to be successful in that particular course or discipline.

With 5-10 minutes here or there early in the term, instructors can help students identify and apply strategies to support their success throughout the term. This is an easy way to help flatten the learning curve around college expectations and create an on-ramp for what is already a rapid 10-week term.

How to Get Started

One entry point for embedding learning strategies would be to ask yourself, “What learning strategies and skills would help students be successful in my course?” You could then follow that up with, “Where in my course do students learn those strategies and skills?”

Another entry point could be to review the list of strategies below and consider which activities might be relevant to students in your course.

Model Reading Strategies

Reading is used differently across courses, and students may not know how approach reading differently for each course. You can help by naming the role reading plays in your course. Does it precede lecture? Exist primarily as a reference? Support homework or exam prep? During the first week of the term, talking through how readings are used in your course and explaining and modeling reading strategies can make reading more manageable and effective for students.

Plan Out Long-Term Projects

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a long-term project. Students who haven’t had a chance to build project management skills may benefit from learning about a tool like the backwards planning worksheet.  Working together to apply this tool to a project gives students the opportunity to practice organizational skills like breaking a large task into smaller tasks and scheduling work over time.

Support Note-Taking for Online Lectures

We’ve heard from students that note-taking for a live online lecture or a video is different from previous approaches. We also know that there are many note-taking variations. Follow an early lecture with discussion. Ask about note-taking approaches and main points folks captured in notes. Share an example of how you (or a TA) took notes on the same content. Invite students to upload their notes and try different note-taking approaches based on the content and format of your lectures.

Make Study Groups a Lighter Lift

Students are looking for connection and community and ways to replace their typical in-person study groups. Talk about how remote study groups might work in your course and encourage use of tools to get started.

Encourage Test-Prep Strategies

Like reading, test prep looks different for each course. Direct students to Learning Corner resources on test prep or encourage students to attend an ASC workshop on test prep and the science of learning. Creating a brief assignment or extra credit opportunity where students reflect on and apply takeaways can help students tailor their test prep strategies to the course and content.

Deconstruct Assignment Expectations

Interpreting assignment expectations can be a source of stress for students. You can help by giving time during class or in online discussions for students to analyze an assignment, practice using a rubric, or plan how to approach tasks. This can also be a great time to let students know about resources available to help with their assignment. For example, a Writing Center virtual tour can make students aware of ways to get feedback at any stage of the writing process.

Scaffold Independence

With any of these techniques, you can scaffold to move relatively quickly to independent learning. For example, you could guide students through creating a study plan in advance of the first midterm, debrief the process post-midterm, then give students time to create their own study plan for the second midterm or final exam.

Embedding learning strategies early in the term can be a great way to encourage students’ use of strategies all term long. If you find yourself looking for tools and resources to support students in your course – reach out! Email me or Marjorie, and we’ll help you navigate  resources from the Academic Success Center and Writing Center.

How Grief and Trauma Impact Learning

by Anika Lautenbach and Sarah Norek

This year students have been asked to adapt to myriad changes and uncertainty. Throughout these transitions, students have experienced collective grief and trauma, while also balancing the needs of family, work, school, and other commitments. We know none of this is easy, and we want to share some key ideas about grief and trauma and how they show up in learning contexts.

Grief & Trauma

This summer, Chris and Anika attended a Trauma-Informed Care workshop presented by the Oregon Family Support Network. This workshop emphasized how trauma impacts the brain in many ways—affecting problem-solving, reasoning and learning, and perception of time and the world around us. Trauma can also cause disassociation—feeling separate from self and surroundings—and can trigger fight, flight, and freeze reactions. These are extremely challenging states to learn in, and these are states that our students (and our colleagues and ourselves) are experiencing regularly (Canaga, 2020).

Additionally, Sarah and Clare, partnered with CAPS to design a webinar and Canvas module Learning During Times of Stress. The webinar and module content help students identify and understand feelings of loss, anxiety, fatigue and overwhelm, and provide them with strategies to navigate the experience while taking care of themselves. We learned a lot from our colleagues Emi Brown and Bonnie Hemrick about the symptoms of grief and how these symptoms manifest in our daily lives.

When we experience grief and overwhelm and fatigue, it isn’t uncommon to see changes in our sleeping and eating patterns or to have difficulty with focus or memory. In addition, we may either feel like disengaging or wanting to be even closer to those with whom we find comfort. You may also have heard of anticipatory grief—thinking ahead to loss—in response to something that hadn’t happened yet. Not surprisingly, all of these feelings and experiences can impact a student’s ability to focus and learn.

In a 2020 Healthy Minds Study, 30.5% of students reported that their mental health conditions negatively impacted their academic performance. 31.1% of students reported that anxiety impaired their academics. You can read more about the impact of COVID-19 on college student well-being here.

Even though only 31% of students actively identify the impact of anxiety on academics, many more students may report symptoms associated with anxiety. How students describe their experiences may vary, and students may be experiencing the impact of trauma, grief, or anxiety, even if they use different language when describing their experiences.

Student Experiences

During spring term, students often shared their feelings of frustration, sadness, worry, and fatigue. Students offered that they were feeling overwhelmed by coursework, that things which had previously been easy were now difficult, and that it was difficult to focus and stay motivated. At the same time, they were worried for loved ones, experiencing job losses, and navigating new responsibilities within living spaces. All of these experiences are likely amplified by pandemic’s disparate impacts on marginalized communities, as well as the continued racial injustice and violence.

From the Spring Student Experience Survey and from the Fall Survey conducted in September, we know students continue to experience concerns about mental and physical health and the well-being of their family and friends. In addition, students have expressed concerns about academics, finances, and responsibilities like work and caregiving. If you’d like to learn more about the survey findings, please consider registering for the FYI Friday Session, or contact Clare Creighton for access to the report.

We’ve learned a lot from workshops, collaborations, and  students. While students may find remote and online learning a little more familiar this term, we know that they’re still adapting and facing trauma, grief, and overwhelm that make learning difficult. We’d encourage everyone to keep this in mind while also being active in reaching out to students, checking how they’re doing, and engaging in supportive conversations.

Canaga, S. (2020). OSU Trauma Informed Care [Webinar]. Oregon Family Support Network. https://www.ofsn.org/

The Impact of COVID-19 on College Students’ Well-Being (2020). Healthy Minds Network and American College Health Association. https://healthymindsnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Healthy_Minds_NCHA_COVID_Survey_Report_FINAL.pdf

Supporting Students through Conversations

by Sarah Norek and Anika Lautenbach

We know that right now, students are experiencing grief, trauma, and overwhelm that make learning difficult. While some students may voice their feelings and experiences, many with similar experiences may not share them. As our colleagues Sara Caldwell-Kan and Bonnie Hemrick pointed out in a recent workshop, we must assume that our students are not okay right now and respond from a point of connection and support.

When we have conversations with students, we have the opportunity to provide empathy and connection and to help students find resources. Over the past few months, we’ve identified some themes and strategies for supporting students in conversation that we’d like to share with you.

Adopting a Supportive Mindset as You Enter the Conversation

  • Be a point of connection. Ask how they’re doing and validate their response. Acknowledge you may not have all the answers, but you want to listen.
  • Focus on the person in front of you. Whenever possible, eliminate distractions and give your full attention.
  • Meet students on their terms. Invite students to engage in ways that feel safe. Don’t insist on video. Keep in mind not everyone is looking for advice. Ask questions to understand how you can support the student.
  • Ask questions and come up with solutions together. If students want to explore solutions and strategies, work together to figure out what will work for them.
  • Be open and transparent in communication. There is uncertainty in so many parts of life. Be concrete and specific in communication so students don’t need to decipher the message or next steps.

Helping Students Adopt Strategies That Support Their Needs

  • Share the Learning during Times of Stress module. The ASC partnered with CAPS to create this Canvas module that helps students learn about and manage stress.
  • Help students understand the rhythm of their day. Ask when they are most productive and when they might be able to complete tasks. Help students think about their individual context.
  • Talk about the benefits of starting early. Things may take longer than normal right now. Starting early allows students to break tasks into smaller steps to complete over time.
  • Support basic needs. Be available to talk about basic needs like food and housing and connect students with resources like the HSRC.
  • Normalize self-care. Let students know it’s important to take breaks and it’s ok to need more breaks or longer breaks—especially from the screen. Normalize decisions made on well-being rather than “powering through.” Encourage students to take time for what nourishes them—sleep, connecting with friends, journaling, walking, meditating, etc.

Starting with a Framework

With big topics that impact students’ well-being, it can feel overwhelming at times to plan for or anticipate conversation. Supportive Conversations handoutWe’ve trained on the Supportive Conversations design for exactly that reason, as it can be helpful to have a sample conversation flow. Click the link or visual for the full-size version. Of course, the conversation needs to be nuanced and adapted to your own style and to the student in front of you, but it offers a starting point for thinking about the flow of a conversation and your role in it.

Chris Gasser, Coordinator of Supplemental Instruction, notes that “There are multiple pieces of this structure that I appreciate: It is simple, it checks my gut reaction to talk and find solutions, it attends to both the affective and the practical, it gives me a role to play: confidante and thought-partner, and it allows the conversation to continue.”

The strategies in this post and handout aren’t the only ones you can use; we hope these ideas spark new ones for how you can support students you connect with. Our colleagues Sara Caldwell-Kan and Bonnie Hemrick recently offered a webinar on “Centering Care during Uncertainty” and their handout on supporting student employees and leaders provides some great strategies and ideas as well.

In closing, we want to acknowledge that, like our students, many of us are also experiencing grief, trauma, and associated challenges. It’s difficult to offer support if we’re not taking care of ourselves. Please consider how the strategies we’ve shared might also apply to you. And check out Beyond Benefits for employee resources relating to wellness, mental health, finances, and more.

Take care. We’re wishing you well and we’re ready to help you support students in fall term.

Fall Course Updates Based on Spring & Summer Learning

I coordinate the Academic Success Center’s ALS 116: Academic Success course. In making course updates for fall term, I’ve tried to learn from spring and summer and to continue or prioritize updates that center students’ needs and demonstrate support.

I’ve made changes in large part based on what I’ve heard from students in class and what we’ve learned from OSU’s spring and fall student surveys—indicating that now more than ever, students need us to be mindful of workloads, policies, and personal needs. We can do this best from a point of connection and empathy.

Here are a few changes I’ve made to better support students in the sections I teach or coordinate.

Reference basic needs in multiple places.

Many students do not have access to basic needs like groceries, housing, and health care. Acknowledging this reality and responding can demonstrate you’re aware of what students are experiencing and are interested in supporting them. You can acknowledge basic needs in a syllabus statement, Canvas resource page, or announcements during/outside of class.

Incorporate a Where Do I Go for Help? page into the Canvas site.

This page from the Center for Teaching and Learning’s Remote and Blended Teaching Canvas template lists a variety of resources available to support students this term.

Create flexible policies.

Students value—and need—flexibility and understanding right now. I’ve removed all penalties for late work and emphasize communication when possible. I also note that I trust students to decide if they need more time on assignments; no justification or explanation is ever needed/required.

Offer sample language for asking for help.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say! Sample language can take stress off students who may be struggling to figure out how to reach out. By posting brief sample language in announcements, it’s easier for students to start an email and communicate what they need.

Make it easy to connect outside of office hours.

Whether this is email, Canvas chat, meetings, or another option, students benefit from having multiple ways to connect. One tool I’m trying is Bookings which is great for setting up meetings without the back-and-forth of finding a time via email. You can set meeting types and durations, sync with Outlook, and hold blocks of times for students to schedule.

These are just a few ways to support students. There are so many others! If you’re considering a course change or want to think about outreach or messaging to support your students this term, please reach out! I’m happy to connect via Zoom or Teams. You can also visit the ASC’s Campus Partners page or our Fall 2020 Toolbox for more strategies and resources to share with students.