Modes of Teaching Implementation Guide
This mode is most similar to the traditional residential classroom experience. However, social distancing requirements will reduce the number of available seats in each classroom and the use of masks. Though primarily face-to-face, this mode does not preclude the use of remote learning activities, either synchronous or asynchronous.
Make it Work
Make clear your expectations about social distancing and CPE. Proactively communicate with your students about creating a safe learning environment. Clearly articulate your expectations about social distancing (6 ft. In general purpose classrooms) and the use of masks (required) and other Community Protective Equipment (CPE) in the classroom. Disinfectant wipes will be available in each classroom.
Model safe behavior. Personal space for instructors will be marked off in the vicinity of the classroom podium. Out of habit, you may occasionally find yourself walking beyond the designated instructor’s zone. When/if this happens, consider calling yourself out with students and using it as an opportunity to remind them that you take the policies seriously. Be safe!
Explain the layout of the classroom to students. All classroom furniture will be configured to adhere to recommended distancing guidelines (currently six feet apart). A personal space for each student seat will be taped off. All students’ personal belongings must stay with them at all times. Students will be allowed to rotate their seats to participate in small group work, but each desk/chair must remain within its designated space. For classrooms with fixed furniture, rows and seats intended for use will be marked accordingly. Learn more about the University’s guidance on the use of classroom space.
Develop community among learners. Wearing masks and social distancing can have a de-humanizing effect on students and instructors. As a result, you may want to take extra steps to personalize your learning environment. Simply sharing more about yourself (e.g. examples of how your family is coping with the pandemic, photos of yourself without a mask) can help. Consider your non-verbal communication cues and how you can use them to be more expressive. Have students introduce themselves (name, hometown, major) during class discussions. Consider providing regular opportunities for students to share something about themselves and how they’re doing.
Experiment with small group dynamics. While student interaction is one of the hallmarks of the face-to-face experience, it is unclear how the quality of communication will be impacted by social distancing and mask use within each classroom and each group of students. Monitor your early experiences and seek regular feedback from students. Can students hear each other? Is communication more manageable in pairs or in groups of four? What is the overall level of noise in the room when students are working in groups? Sound quality varies from room to room; you will probably need to try some different configurations in order to optimize student interaction.
Use independent active learning. If small group dynamics aren’t working under your new classroom conditions, you can still use active learning techniques. Short writing prompts and polls are a great way to engage students beyond lecture. Get creative: Students can collaborate at a safe distance using a shared web document (e.g. Google docs or MS Teams). You can project the document to display student contributions in real time.
Be prepared to repeat and paraphrase. In larger classrooms, the use of shared handheld student microphones will not be an option. Even in smaller classrooms, the use of masks may make it difficult for students to hear each other across the room. Instructors may need to do more repeating and paraphrasing of student remarks than usual during whole-class discussion.
Consider online tools to facilitate interaction in the classroom. In larger classrooms in particular, it may be difficult to hear all students and for students to hear one another. Consider facilitating participation during class discussions through an online technology such as chat or open polls. Student questions and comments submitted digitally can be displayed on the classroom screen, or you or a TA (or other student) can monitor them independently.
Arrive early and depart promptly. For the spring 2021 semester, the class schedule will return to 15-minute intervals between classes. Given building entry and exit restrictions and classroom sanitizing needs, time between classes will be tight. Instructors should plan to arrive on time and avoid going over their allotted class time. Arriving early will help ensure that you have adequate time to set up the necessary technology and disinfect any shared surfaces or technologies you will be using.
Visit your classroom(s) before the semester begins. Familiarize yourself with the classrooms you will be using before you walk in the first day of class. Get a feel for how available seating is configured and how noise carries in the room. Make sure you are comfortable using the classroom technology. You can schedule a classroom demo with an ITS Classroom Hotline consultant at any time. Interested instructors are also welcome to bring their own clip-on mics to use in classrooms with microphone systems. Check with the ITS Classroom Hotline to ensure that your personal microphone is compatible with the classroom AV system.
Supporting students who cannot attend class. Some of your students may be unable to attend in-person classes for a period of time, due to quarantine or other personal circumstances. Consider the following options for serving the learning needs of those students:
- Familiarize yourself with the University’s approved absence policy.
- Reach out to affected students and schedule a time to chat about their situation and how you can support them.
- If you are in a classroom equipped with technology to support remote instruction, have remote students participate via Zoom or some other video conferencing solution. Learn more about strategies for implementing Mode 2 (In-person, On-campus, and Remote Learners).
- Record your class sessions in Zoom and make them available to students who cannot attend in-person or remotely. This benefits all students.
- If you cannot record your course meetings, make any lecture slides and supporting materials available through your course Sakai site before your synchronous meeting.
- Replace in-class participation activities with asynchronous alternatives. For example, if class discussion is a regular part of your in-person class experience, consider hosting a supplementary discussion forum assignment. You might assign short written reflections to replace in-class small group activities. Poll questions (via Poll Everywhere) can also be assigned asynchronously.
- For group project work, encourage students to meet remotely via Zoom as often as possible. If a group member cannot attend synchronously, ask students to consider recording their Zoom meetings or relying more on asynchronous communication. Have them document meeting notes, action items, and deadlines and post those to the group’s Sakai or Teams site.
- Consider holding remote weekly or semi-weekly review sessions for students who cannot attend.
- Create a “study buddy” system where students who are unable to attend class are paired up with a classmate who can share notes and update them on class sessions.
- How to Teach F2F With a Mask and Create Caring Classrooms (Inside Higher Ed)
- Active Learning in Hybrid and Physically Distanced Classrooms (Vanderbilt Center for Teaching)
- Cameras and Masks: Sustaining Emotional Connections with Your Students in the Age of COVID-19 (howardaldrich.org)
- A Dry Run at a Socially Distanced Classroom (Inside Higher Ed)