December 2020

The page features CELT Notes sent to Luther faculty members during the academic year 2020 - 2021.


18. December 2020

Happy almost break, all - 

We've been a bit quiet over here in CELT as we are trying to be mindful of the limited time and brain space that we all have, as we speed through another accelerated term. 

President Ward's email this morning is a welcome bit of information. I'm finding it difficult to plan for the future with all the uncertainty in our world. Knowing that we can expect to be with our classes, physically-distant, but in person starting January 11th, means I can build out the last three weeks of my course. 

If you do only two things this week and next - before we take a much needed break (and let's be honest, catch up on grading and course prep, right? At least we can do it in our pjs with a cup of tea in hand!), consider doing the following:

1. Check in with your classes -- and send a private, individual note to students who have been underperforming, not showing up, or not engaging. Remember, even though there is hope on the horizon, students are still trying to complete college courses in the middle of a pandemic. An encouraging note, telling them that you appreciate their presence in class, that you are there to answer questions, and that you wish them a restful break, might go a long way towards persistence and student success. Sometimes all a student needs to hear is that you see them, you believe in them, and that you are rooting for them.
I'm going to also tell my three students who have been struggling to come to class that I'm really looking forward to welcoming them back to campus and having a chance to get to know them a bit better in person. Maybe it will help? It certainly won't hurt.
I would also recommend letting ALL of your students know what your availability is over the break. Do you plan to answer emails regularly or are you headed to a cabin in the woods with no internet? If you aren't going to be able to be reached on a regular basis, when WILL you be able to answer their questions? 

2.Make a Check-In Survey to complete as homework next Monday or Tuesday. Having this break mid-way in our term is a logical place to assess how things are going. We still have time to retool things for the second half of the term. This doesn't have to be long, but asking students about workload, what's working for them, what they have enjoyed learning about, etc. is a great way to get feedback, but also build in a space for student self-reflection that is critical to student learning.
We won't be doing any scheduled programming for the remainder of Q2, but we are always available for 1:1 consultation conversations. Please just reach out to set up an appointment.

Some Physically-Distant, High-impact Teaching Notes

Okay! So now we know that most of us are returning to the classroom on Monday, January 11. Here are some things that we learned in Q1 to keep in mind as you think about the classroom environment. These recommendations are based on best practices AND student feedback from Q1. 

1.Breaks - this one is the easiest. Make sure you give your students breaks. They need to get up, get water, stretch their legs, rest their brains. Try to schedule at least one short 5 to 10 minute break into every hour you meet. 

2. Variety of activities - You're probably already doing this online, but think about switching things up every 15 to 20 minutes. Lecture -- have them work through problems or scenarios -- take a break - have them read through a document and free write -- large group discussion -- lecture, etc. Of course every classroom and every discipline is different -- we are always happy to chat about options. 

3. Groups  - most students will be pleased to be back in the classroom, but they did express disappointment in Q1 about how hard it was to find connection and make friends in our physically distant classrooms. Consider retaining or creating learning pods or groups. Those small groups can really help students find connection and community, while supporting their learning. 

4. However, remember we are still in a pandemic! Groups are great for so many reasons, but on the flip side - group work has to be able to be accomplished in a physically-distanced manner. They have to be able to stay 6 feet apart and masked. Consider requiring that groups meet online via Zoom or Google Meet, rather than in person, so that all students can be in control of their own safety and wellbeing. 

CELT Website

There is a wealth of information on the website for you as you plan for the remainder of Q2 and Spring semester. This includes our new Small Teaching/Big Learning video series. If you have an idea you'd like to share with your colleagues, please email Kate.

Looking forward to spring and summer in CELT

For the remainder of Q2, we'll be building out programming for Spring and Summer. This will include:

  • Programming and resources on faculty well-being and burn out
  • A second round of faculty/staff working groups with Layla Saad's Me and White Supremacy
  • A virtual teaching showcase to share and celebrate what we have learned this past year. 
  • Planning for our second year of our Course Redesign Bootcamp

If you have other ideas, we are always happy to hear them. But in the meantime, I hope you all find space to sit in the quiet for a while, a chance to catch a midday nap, time to take a walk in the sunshine, and a bit of time to catch your breath. 

Joyous holidays to you all,