Less Is More to Support Student Success

With only 25 more days left in this world-changing semester, it’s a critical time for students and faculty looking to finish the semester successfully.  In this time of emergency teaching and learning, it’s important to adjust our expectations and focus to model for students how they can and will succeed.

Help!  We’re drowning in emails!

Limit your “push” communications such as announcements to one per week if possible, and make sure to set a positive tone as you would in person.  Instead, use technology to create resources students can “pull” from during the time they focus on your class.  For example, you can add a discussion board thread for class questions on upcoming assignments and new information on projects. The Canvas “Page” tool can be used to add a weekly overview of what to expect as well as an updated course schedule page.

I’m worried I won’t be able to get everything done

cult of done
Cult of Done by Bre Pettis

Events of the past few weeks have taken a large chunk of time away from everyone’s ability to focus on school.  Rather than repack everything into the next few weeks, rethink and reduce any activities to only the most relevant and doable given students’ new settings.  When students look back at your course five years from now, what would you want them to remember most? Something as simple as reducing the length of an assignment can have a big impact and reduce student stress, while still moving course content forward–freeing up some of your time to interact in other ways with your students!  (Click here for gratuitous song on priorities)

A little less typing and a lot more talking

With many students struggling to complete academic work on old laptops or small smartphone screens, what about reducing stress by changing an assignment to incorporate video?  The average person speaks between 125-150 words per minute, but only types 30-40 words per minute.  Students can use Zoom or their phone video app to record and upload short video responses to questions you pose–which also promotes feelings of connection!  Or, use Netflix as a powerful teaching tool to help them process all of the emotions flying around now connected to your discipline.

Be the “Coach with the Most” for your students

Media is filling our lives with dire predictions of what’s coming next, and this only adds to typical student anxiety about success and next steps as they approach the ending of a semester.  During emergency teaching, students need a picture of themselves crossing the finish line of the semester, against all odds.  Think of your favorite underdog to success story, and channel your inner coach with the most for your students.  Don’t worry about being the best instant online sage on the stage with perfectly created online content.  Instead, put your energy towards communicating empathy followed up with a giant boost of can-do energy.


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