Tips and Tricks for Teaching in a Pinch

Adapted from

  1. Communicate with your students right away: As soon as possible, inform your students that changes are coming. Let them know what your expectations are for checking email or announcements. 
  2. Set realistic goals. To what extent can you maintain your original syllabus and schedule? Do you hope students will keep up with the reading with some assignments to add structure and accountability? How will you keep them engaged with the course content? 
  3. Determine priorities. What is most important to accomplish? What assignments feel critical, what activities are possible? What activities are better rescheduled, and what can or must be done online? 
  4. Review your syllabus for points that must change. Identify what must temporarily change in your syllabus, due dates, or assignments, and communicate those changes to students. Policy changes, such as attendance policy and grading, will be determined at the school level. Please check with Dean before you make changes to policy.
  5. Reset expectations for students. As you think through your changes, keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students' ability to meet those expectations, including illness,  unstable internet, or needing to care for family members. Be ready to equitably handle requests for extensions or accommodations.
  6. Communicate details to your students as they become available. Once you have details about changes in the class, communicate them to students, along with how and when they can contact you (email, online office hours, etc.). Anticipate students will have questions; let them know how and when you will reply.
  7. Ensure accessibility. While low- or no- vision, hearing, and mobility raise larger accessibility concerns than can be reasonably managed “in a pinch”, ensure that students with various other learning disabilities are accommodated. Consider also having your lecture notes available for students. And, ensure all online lectures are recorded so students can play them back more slowly as needed. 
  8. Alter your expectations for video content that you may decide to create. If you record video “lectures”, they need not be perfect. This is not the time for production quality video. Be yourself, with all of your ums and uhs and be OK with it. Relax. You’re human.  You don’t have to be perfect. Your students know that you are working under unusual circumstances. (Oh, and try not to be a talking head. And limit your recordings to less than 10 minutes.) Please record your lectures, not just deliver over Zoom without recording so that students can go back and rewatch to make sure they caught the content you were trying to provide. Be equally forgiving of materials students create through video.
  9. Check your CalArts email regularly. You will be receiving campus updates, instructional guides, and/or notifications from Learn. You may also be receiving emails from students and should be available to them (though you can designate hours of contact). Stick to your communications plan and stay informed.