In the Chronicle of Higher Education last week, Flower Darby offered some thoughts last week on how to recover some of the joy of teaching in the era of suddenly teaching online. You can certainly click through and read it all yourself, but here is a summary of some of her thoughts:

  • Don’t hide your emotions. This whole experience is not what anyone signed up for. She recommends even being open to sharing these feelings with your students as you navigate new and difficult waters throughout the semester.
  • Find some joy in experimenting a little, knowing that students will be a little more understanding as you poke around and try to figure something out.
  • Keep interacting with students more, not less. It may seem like you were overcommunicating to students in the wake of the transition online. Our instincts are probably to pull back. But for the timeframe we’re dealing with, that might not be the best strategy. You’re likely communicating a lot less than you would with students during a regular class and they will probably appreciate further nudges in this new environment. Nudging is good. Do more nudging!
  • Don’t be afraid to check with your students on how the new flexibility is going. Send a short, anonymous survey asking them what you should keep doing, what you should stop doing, and what you could refine. Don’t be afraid to change course a little, as long as you’re not asking them to do something radically different than the patterns you’ve established.
  • Consider adding some engagement technology. She recommends maybe experimenting with something you haven’t done before for a week. Try FlipGrid or video comments that students send in on their phones. She also recommends VoiceThread, but we don’t have a site-wide license for that. Just, er, don’t try to do too much that’s new all at once.
  • Try to be kind.