The title of this piece specifically does not mention teaching because this topic is of global relevance. Although I will bring this back around to the classroom, let’s reflect for a moment on how flexible our lives have become in the past two months. We’re conducting all of our business online or by phone, talking with representatives of large companies who are not in actual call centers but also at home, homeschooling our kids (I, for one, did not sign up for that), cooking ALL THE TIME, and figuring out how to do it all, together, with the people in our homes who sometimes we enjoy taking a break from.
As someone who has spent the last two weeks trying to figure out how I would retain quality and meaningful experiences in a very hands-on lab class, I thought I would share a few thoughts about how to take on Spring term 2020.
- Our students are looking to us for leadership. The best message that we can send is that we’re all in this together, we’ve got their back, we’re all trying to figure it out, and everything won’t be perfect but we promise to do the very best job that we can.
- Keep the lines of communication open with your students. Make sure now more than ever, that you are available to help them. This includes frequent Canvas Announcements and making sure your email address and phone number are easy to find. I have a Module in Canvas that displays my Zoom office hours link and contact info.
- Focus on the long-term goals of your class. More than ever, keep “the end in mind” in every lecture, assignment, and assessment. Involve your students by explaining your long-term goals, what you’re changing and why what you are focusing on is so important…and this applies very much to the next one…
- Remember that LESS IS MORE. Depth over breadth could not be more important than it is now. Less reading, less content, and more focus on connections, reflection, and application will keep your students engaged and progressing in your class.
- Give yourself a break and stay humble. This situation is far from ideal, we have not had an entire summer to plan for this, and most of us have never taught this way before. You may have an assignment that fails, technology may fall apart, and students may get frustrated. Prepare to be flexible. Be kind and gracious to yourself and to your students. We’re in this together and growth, while difficult, is always a good thing.
Your Dean’s Team is here for you and Corvallis (firstname.lastname@example.org) has stepped up their efforts to support you and our students. Reach out and lean on us and each other. We will come through this stronger and more united than ever!
I have been given the gift of first-year students this term. By “gift” I mean that after 22 years of teaching, I have a room full of fresh-out-of-high-school minds. These students are unique in many ways and I could spend the rest of the term writing posts about their uniqueness, but today I’m going to focus on one feature that unites them: FMOOWMP, or “Fear of Meeting One-On-One With My Professor.”
I didn’t come up with this roll-off-your-tongue acronym but I do believe it describes MANY students, not just those in their first year. Watch this 2-minute video produced by ASU (I showed it to my class) and tell me if you agree that the cure to FMOOWMP is FOH.