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Tips for Planning Winter 2022 Teaching and Learning

Mon Dec 13, 2021 at 07:00 AM

While this is not necessarily a comprehensive list, it can provide a structure for many of the planning items to attend to for winter 2022. Make a copy of this checklist, and add additional notes and items specific to your needs.

As we prepare into our second calendar year of pandemic teaching, let’s continue the flexibility, care, and structure we have learned. Many of these items are similar to our previous planning tips, but we emphasize ways to elevate care and support amid uncertainty. Part of that care and support is attending to those things that motivate learning and boost our energy and wellbeing. For more information see the Toward Post-COVID Teaching webpage.

  • Plan upcoming courses by reflecting on the most recent semester. The Reflecting on the Semester Teaching Tip provides a basic approach to reflecting on the semester based on a variety of data, along with links to reflection models for continuous improvement and for other purposes. Consider what practices are worth continuing as we are still teaching in uncertain times.
  • Follow the set teaching schedule. All courses have been assigned an instruction mode. Work closely with your department chair or program coordinator to confirm your schedule. Please ensure that you follow this schedule and format. If you are teaching “in-person” you need to be meeting only at the times set for the in-person sessions. If you are teaching a combination of in-person and online, clearly identify in your syllabus the dates and times that you will be meeting in-person and follow that schedule. As this is a confusing time for students, also talk through scheduling and expectations often in the first weeks of the semester. 
  • Use the syllabus to help guide decisions. The OU Syllabus Resources page includes an updated syllabus template with COVID-related links and language.
  • Continue to plan for flexibility. Even if you are teaching on campus regularly, hold close all we learned during 2020-2021 about online teaching and moving formats. This includes planning for yourself: If you have to teach at home unexpectedly, determine what you need to do and have. See if the Classroom in a Box would be helpful to you, which includes document cameras, microphones, web cameras, annotation panels, and laptops. Email [email protected] to reserve your equipment.
  • Plan for uncertainty, with remote options for some or all students. Students may need to quarantine or care for dependents who are quarantined, among other life responsibilities and challenges. Consider what options students have when they cannot attend a class session, whether that involves live streaming and recording class sessions, offering adjacent asynchronous options, or overall practicing flexibility and compassion for students. It may be most manageable to identify the main activities of your course and determine a flexible option for students to achieve these activity goals. 
  • Cut, simplify, and leave space for motivation. Many faculty have shared that students were overwhelmed in the fall semester and grades were down overall. Re-evaluate the quantity, quality, and organization of assignments to get the most out of students’ available bandwidth. Also consider ways to boost bandwidth by allowing students more choice and agency in their assignments, or by getting students moving.
  • Get everyone moving. We are so programmed to learn in sedentary ways, but minds learn better motion and in connection to concrete objects and situations. Consider how to regularly get students moving in class, such as by doing jigsaw group activities and gallery walks. Create scenarios, labs, and other active learning situations that connect students to the actions and objects of their craft. Even invite students to walk around campus with a partner for 15 minutes to discuss a case study or engage in a scavenger hunt.
  • Send a welcome message to students, clarifying when and where classes will be meeting (if having synchronous sessions). Some students may still be getting used to a variety of class formats. Help students plan for an uncertain semester by explaining what students should do if they have to quarantine.
  • Get an early idea of who your students are. Asking students to fill out a simple form will help you move from hypothetical situations to working with the students you have. Knowing their technology/internet access, schedules, interests, experiences, and concerns will better help you anticipate barriers and opportunities. This Preparing for the Semester Google Form can serve as a model you can use and adapt.
  • If teaching in the classroom, visit the classroom ahead of time to review the layout and available supplies and technology. More general purpose classrooms are updating their technology, so it helps to not only become familiar with it but consider your options for recording and live streaming courses. See CSITS’s website for programs available in general purpose classrooms.
  • Center compassion. The syllabus template provides policy language and lists supports available to students, but it makes a big difference if you pick one to highlight and encourage students to take advantage of once or twice a week at the beginning of class or in a weekly message. Students cannot learn when their basic needs are in jeopardy: share this Student Immediate Needs Resources sheet with students, which lists timely resources available for students. Also counseling sessions are free for students this year. This is more than a “nice to do” sentiment: students are more likely to persist when they perceive their professors care about them.

View a Google Doc version of this teaching tip

Written by Christina Moore and Judy Ableser, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Others may share and adapt under Creative Commons License CC BY-NCView all CETL Weekly Teaching Tips. Follow these and more on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.