As 2021 has come to a close and we look to a new semester of teaching it is normal to reflect back on what we’ve learned, what worked well, and what we need to let go. Here is a look back at some of the key points from our TIC blog posts from last year that are worth taking into the new semester:
InclusionToday there are endless resources available covering the subject of inclusion in classrooms and though they are filled with useful information, it is a journey that each educator must make as an individual. Professional Learning Communities, or PCLs, serve as a way to collaborate and discuss the themes of teaching inclusively and to continue to build awareness and new teaching norms. PCLs usually meet on a regular basis and help build a further understanding. The Teaching Innovation Center has a number of opportunities to connect with your peers on teaching. More information on the subject can be found here.
AccessibilityCritically thinking about the accessibility needs of everyone who may be enrolling must be a proactive approach. An example of this is alternative text for science graphics and how it is important to find a balance between making these graphics accessible to students who may be visually impared without just giving away the answer. The purpose of alternative text is to provide the image in text form to help those who are unable to see it and allow them to take away the same message. More information can be found in our original post here.
Peer InteractionThe most common comment by students taking online courses is the lack of interactions with their peers. With in-person classes, peer interactions usually happen organically and unfortunately that is not usually the case with online learning. Some ways that may help increase peer interaction include moving away from the traditional discussion board format and using platforms like Yellowdig or Slack instead. Implementing peer groups and using a peer review system may also help as well. For more information you can visit our original post here.
Creative Online DiscussionsWith online learning, discussions can become repetitive and often miss their intended purpose of creating deeper reflection and understanding. This is referred to as Standard Discussion Pedagogy, where discussions become formulaic and limited. Creative approaches suggest asking more open-ended questions, putting an emphasis more on fewer initial posts and more responses to continue the dialogue, and more short posts as opposed to fewer long posts. You can find more information about this subject from our original post here.
Fighting BurnoutResearch shows that all of us faced times during the pandemic that our mental health was fragile. As we move forward in teaching, we need to be sensitive to ourselves and our students that are facing difficult challenges that take their focus away from academics. Some ways to help care for students who may be feeling burnout include using micro and macro affirmations, including “protected time” in the course, having flexibility when it comes to course deadlines, and being an ally for students and their mental health. For more information, visit our original post here.
Our team at the Teaching Innovation Center are ready to help you face the new year inspired and excited about teaching! Happy New Year!