With half of UO’s remote spring behind us, now is the perfect time to take stock of the class and to clarify, even shift expectations, which Academic Council gives instructors wide latitude to do in its emergency guidance. Ways to “Mark the Midpoint” include:
I. Talking about student survey results with the class
TEP often says that the best thing about a midway student survey is the class conversation it initiates–a chance for instructors and students alike to recalibrate. (Student surveys are available for you to import into your Canvas course.) If you’ve done a survey, you might use it as the basis to make a clarification or a change. Consider communicating these clarifications/changes at least two ways (in an email to the class and at the beginning of a Zoom session, for example).
Make a clarification:
Thank you for your feedback—it’s very important to me to do all I can to help you succeed in this class and take things from it that will be valuable in other UO classes and beyond. Interestingly, there were a variety of opinions about _____. I wanted to underscore the rationale for why we’re doing this the way we are.
I found it really interesting to read your feedback about _________. I realize that I haven’t explained __________, which means you can’t yet see how these pieces all fit together. Therefore _______.
I noticed that several of you would feel really supported by _____. I want to meet that need by ____.
We’re all adjusting to this remote term and I read in your feedback and see through my own observations that ______ aspect of our assessment structure is not supporting your learning. Thus, I want to change ______ to ______ and offer _____ to help you succeed. If this presents any particular challenges, let me know right away.
Recommend the class make a change:
I noticed several observations about ____. I think we as a class could take this seriously by working together to _____.
II. Introducing a metacognitive activity
Even if you haven’t surveyed students, any metacognitive activity like TEP’s lesson field notes, or an “exit ticket” in the Zoom chat where students offer a quick share of something they’re proud of learning in the first five weeks and/or something they’re still trying to unpack, or an activity in which students write statements of personal goals for the remainder of the course can give you an opening to reflect with students on your how the class is thinking, feeling, and learning together and give students a chance to do their own taking stock.
III. Taking a breath
Make space for students to share a go-to for joy, comfort, and transcendence these past weeks: the media they’ve looked to, the recipes they’ve loved, their best encounters with the natural world, or the surprising ways they found to connect with family or friends as part of a Class Care discussion forum or Zoom chat. Or ask students for two sentences of advice they would give to a fellow Duck feeling discouraged right now and exchange them with another class. Suggest they write a letter to their future selves about what they want to remember from this moment–if they’re willing to send you a line, read them out at the beginning fo a Zoom session. If anyone’s interested, they can submit the letter to https://www.futureme.org and it will email them at the date they specify in the future.
Congratulations, wonderful colleagues–you are halfway there.