We know that these are challenging and stressful times. All of us need care and time to reflect on how we will take care of ourselves and the ones we love. As you begin to think about moving your course into a remote format, we encourage you to be kind to yourself and your students. Recognize and allow for moments of feeling overwhelmed. Recognize that you might make mistakes and forgive yourself for those mistakes. Allow the same generosity when your students make mistakes.

This is a time to practice care for ourselves and our students as we move into forms of teaching that are irregular, uncomfortable, and hurried. How can we practice continuity with care as we move into remote teaching and learning? Here are some ideas.

  • Triage. Consider focusing on the key pieces of content that need to be covered, rather than doing everything you had originally planned. (We know that it’s not easy to leave content behind!) For disciplines that have chunks of content that are difficult to move online, focus on activities that can be translated in some way, realizing that the shape of the class and content may have to look different for now.
  • Asynchronous. When considering remote teaching activities, particularly whether to have synchronous (real-time, for example on Zoom) or asynchronous (time-lapsed, for example on discussion boards) activities, we urge you to recognize that conducting synchronous activities could mean that students do not have access to high speed Internet and/or appropriate hardware will be left out of your classroom. Synchronous activities may also be challenging for students who have returned home to non-Eastern Time zones, and for students with disabilities who need accommodations related to audio and visual learning.

“Do not transfer your face-to-face lessons into a paper packet or online form. This almost never works as well and creates a lot of wasted work for you and for your students. Similarly, do not try to hold your class meetings online via some sort of web conferencing technology unless you and your students have a lot of practice–and maybe not even then as I suspect some systems may overload under the increased demand. Moving to asynchronous class activities will make your life and your students’ lives so much easier. Heck you might even find that giving your students time to process and reflect might make your interactions better.”   (Advice from a seasoned online/hybrid instructor)

We strongly suggest asking your students the following questions, before you decide to conduct synchronous sessions:

    • What time zone will you be in?
    • Do you have regular access to high speed Internet?
      • (we suggest asking students to send their response to you privately)
    • Do you have access to hardware and software that will allow you to participate fully in class sessions or activities?

If you would like to gather more data on your students’ access to technology, Dr. Danya Glabau of NYU has created a brief questionnaire that is free to copy and use. Your students’ answers to these questions should guide your next steps.

  • Connection. Remote teaching can feel isolating for faculty and students, so finding ways to stay connected with colleagues and with your students is important. Consider quick, regular check ins via email, phone, texting, Slack, Zoom office hours – even postcards! Have fun with it.
  • Flexibility. Be prepared for the fact that some students may need alternative ways to complete assignments and extended deadlines. One way to build flexibility into the course is, where possible, to offer choices of type of assignment to complete.
  • Clarity and transparency. As Brene Brown says, “Clear is kind.” It’s important to communicate your expectations and decisions to students, and to let them know the “why” behind the decisions. (Where possible, consider inviting your students into decision-making!)
  • Murphy’s Law: Expect that there will be times when the technology does not cooperate. It’s just the nature of the beast. Be patient, and let your students know what’s going on.

“In addition to our own and learners’ anxieties about moving to online learning/teaching, each of us may well be carrying anxiety about the other aspects of our lives, e.g. the health of our children, our parents, our friends, our neighbours, and all who are marginalised in various ways — who is falling out of the social safety net? e.g. financial anxiety re: salaries, expenses, health care costs. e.g. broader anxieties about the future, the planet, global inequality — all exacerbated by the current pandemic. These are just some of many worries and anxieties we and our students may be bringing into our virtual learning spaces — acknowledgement of these, and kindness above all, may be the most important things we can do to teach online with care.” [Catherine Cronin, emphasis added]

More Resources

Crowdsourcing Teaching Online with Care – Dr. Maha Bali and Dr. Mia Zamora

  • Curators will be hosting a live session on the topic on Friday, March 13 at 1 pm PST/4 pm EST on Zoom. More info