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Fall is Coming: Tips for Returning to the Classroom (That You Might Not Think of)

Fall semester is upon us and like many folks in higher education, the Teaching Innovation Center (TIC) is preparing to return to the classroom. Uncertainty follows us as we transition into the classroom and many are feeling the anxiety of how to return to normal. In the last few weeks, I have felt the pressure of everyone trying to go back to the way things were, and what we really ought to focus on is reimagining education to what it could be. In reimagining education, students and educators are reflecting on what worked during remote learning and what could be improved in a (sort of) post-pandemic world. As you find yourself bracing for the fall semester, here are three tips that you might not think of:

Student wearing mask in class and paying attention to lecture

1. Edit your syllabus language. 

Updating your syllabus language is crucial between each rendition of a course, and especially important as we return to the classroom. Faculty and instructors in the School of Life Sciences (SOLS) at ASU need to edit syllabi language regarding policies on COVID and masks. You may find yourself also needing to update your syllabi language and take out sections related to remote learning (or in ASU's case ASU Sync) and options for one-off opportunities like laptop and hotspot rentals. For SOLS Instructors, you might consider.
  • Staying up to date with ASU Policies from the Provost office.
  • Emailing or visiting the TIC office for Syllabus Templates with updated policies and syllabi statements
  • Comparing your syllabus to inclusive syllabi practices by the RISE Center and Dr. Sara Brownell's team. Their research describes how an inclusive syllabus creates a positive climate and is the start of a relationship between instructors and students, and respect for identities.

2. Record live lectures.

As students return to the classroom from a year and a half of remote learning, the #1 learning desire is being able to revisit recorded lectures. In fact, in one study, 79 percent of students want to keep lectures available online, even for in-person classes. Students use the recorded lectures to revisit material and reinforce learning outcomes. While some faculty fear recording their lectures saying that students won't come to class, revisiting recorded lectures is crucial to student success and learning outcomes. 

Professor teaching in college classroom with students in classroom and over zoom

Not sure how to best set up your classroom to record live lectures in SOLS? Visit the ASU UTO Knowledge Base article on how to integrate Zoom with Canvas to get started. Meet with your instructional designer for additional help!

3. Have a backup plan.

Things are everchanging in a (sort of) post-pandemic world. Policies around masks, vaccinations, in-person classes, and more may change and it's important to have a backup plan in case they do. 
  • For ASU folk, continue to check out ASU's COVID policy updates and ASU's Provost website for Learning Expectations this Fall. This website has updated information for faculty on syllabi language, face masks, and more.
  • Consider using technology that can easily be integrated in-person or remote for synchronous courses. Technology like iClickers or Yellowdig is great because they can be used in-person and remotely. iClickers and Yellowdig also allow for collaboration, peer learning, and checking for understanding, all of which are good practices in and out of the classroom. 
  • Revisit practices from the remote learning era. Check out our previous blog posts with tips from teaching in the trenches at the start of the pandemic.
  • Practice radical acceptance knowing that things may change and that's okay. Having a backup plan will help both you and your students adjust.
Keep these tips in mind when returning to the classroom. Want to collaborate with an instructional designer? Email to get started! We are here to help.


Christy Jersin Woods, M.Ed. is an Instructional Designer Associate for the School of Life Sciences at ASU. She leverages technology and inclusive teaching pedagogy to assist faculty in curriculum and design of their courses. She has several years of experience teaching and in curriculum design in higher education and continues to stay up to date in literature and best practices.


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