“Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.” – Parker Palmer
Champlain College faculty members care about their students. The transition from face-to-face teaching, mentoring and advising to remote instruction may be challenging for our highly invested educators. It may be helpful to remember “this is not the time to create a perfect online course that adheres to best principles for online learning, but rather a time to transition, support ourselves and our students in this endeavor, and reach out for assistance as needed” (Angela Gale, CCO). The CLT Team and many campus partners, namely, the Library, SMARTSpace, CCO faculty and eLearning Team, and the Provost’s Office are ready to support you. You may request assistance or a 1:1 consultation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you haven’t already, be sure to complete the Remote Learning Readiness and Support Survey.
Whether you face a steep learning curve to master online instruction or whether you face personal hardships brought about by self-distancing, you may experience high levels of stress, uncertainty and isolation. When folx, especially high achievers, feel this way, they can become hyper-vigilant or default to the paralysis of uncertainty. The hyper-vigilant professor may be pulled into students’ unregulated behavior and/or become overly concerned with meeting students’ needs at every hour of the day, causing them to be unnecessarily connected to their devices. The uncertain professor may unintentionally neglect students’ needs for regular touchpoints, a sense of community and helpful feedback. For the sake of faculty wellbeing and student success, we offer some helpful tips for maintaining a healthy work/life balance as a remote instructor. (Tips provided by online instruction experts Angela Gale, CCO and Josh Blumberg, Director of Academic Technology and CCO instructor)
Tip #1: Set Clear Boundaries for Communication
- Create a Google Voice number: If you prefer not to post your home/work/cell number in your syllabus, a great option is to create a Google Voice number where students can leave you a message. You can also forward incoming calls to another number if you wish. See directions to Get Started with Google Voice for more details. Please note, the College’s account doesn’t have the Google Voice number option; you would need to use an outside Google account to set that up.
- Create initial email responses: A quick 1-2 sentence response to students is often all that is needed. It is very helpful in online classes to respond very quickly. Knowing you will take care of email each day at a certain time, send a quick message like: “I’ll get back to you later today with an answer to this”.
- Use Canvas announcements: Often, students have the same question or make the same mistakes on an assignment. To save time, send out an announcement or quick video reflecting on themes you saw in student submissions or answering questions many students asked.
- Consider multi-student office hours. Based on student feedback and how the class is going, there will be times when it is appropriate to meet with 2 or 3 students at once instead of meeting 1:1.
Tip #2 Set Yourself Up for Success with a Reasonable Schedule:
- Set availability expectations: We would encourage faculty to clearly set expectations about the hours they will respond to emails and when they will be available for “office hours.” For example, if students know their professor will respond to questions in the discussion board daily at 8:00 pm ET or within a 24-hour window that can help set clear expectations for both parties. It can be equally important to know when the professor is not available (eg. Sundays).
- Set administrative hours: Be sure to aside some time each day to respond to email, Canvas messages and discussion posts. This way you will recognize it as part of your workday. Also, this ensures that you respond within 24 hours.
Tip #3 Set Up Your Technology and Work Space
- Consider recorded instructor videos: Instructor videos are fantastic and can help students feel more connected and be more successful. To learn more, please join your colleagues in the upcoming Webinar: Running Webinars and Remote Meetings. The next training is on Friday, 3/20 from 1-2:15 pm. Please see your calendar invitation or join by going to the Join Hangouts Meet or Join by phone +1 574-217-4116 PIN: 905 294 500#
- Install helpful tech tools: We recommend the Canvas Teacher mobile app, gmail app and google meet on your phone.
Tip #4 Set Your Level of Perfection Aside
- Resist over-communicating: Let students do their part. As in any learning environment, students learn best when they encounter some doubt, some healthy stress from a desire to achieve, and some mistakes. By staying out of their processing work, such as discussions or projects, they will go deeper and broader and produce better work. Your role is to remove barriers to access and provide pathways for creative expression.
Partner with colleagues teaching the same course: The CLT can enroll faculty with “Shared Content Access” to another course. So if multiple instructors are teaching sections of the same course they can see how each other have setup Canvas and copy content from each other… this can save a lot of time.
More tips to come!