Teaching during Crisis
Teaching during a crisis is challenging. Responding to students in your classes during national or local crises such as this one might “range from acknowledging the emotional impact of this moment, to helping students process their reactions through reflective writing, to discussing the issues within the context of your course content. Personal reflection on your level of skill, positionality, privilege, emotional capacity, and commitment to the community may help you and your colleagues make purposeful choices.” (University of Virginia Center for Teaching Excellence)
Here’s a sampling of strategies to consider from UVA and Vanderbilt, among others:
- Encourage students to make a plan to mobilize their sense of agency. This might include thinking about how they will interact with news coverage or get involved in University-sponsored or community events
- Acknowledge the emotional impact. You might say something in person, in a Camino announcement, or email. Let students know that you understand they may be struggling to keep up with their work or having a tough time emotionally. Let them know you’re available and committed to their well-being.
- Invite students to reflect and engage in self-care. One suggestion offered is to have students free-write for a few minutes about a prompt such as “How do you make sense of the current events and your emotions in light of your values? Who do you want to reach out to later in the day for more processing and support?” Flexibility in deadlines may be helpful at this time.
- Facilitate discussions. This might not be for everyone, but if you open up discussions, be sure to have ground rules for conversation, and you might want to review a resource on managing difficult dialogues.
- Share responsibility for supporting individual students. You will want to be ready to direct students to SCU colleagues at OML and the Rainbow Resource Center, the Office of Student Life, the Wellness Center, Cowell, Campus Ministry, and other programs on campus that support student well-being and belonging at SCU.
Interested in exploring other resources about teaching during crises?
- University of Michigan offers Facilitation Strategies for High Stakes Topics and Facilitation Strategies for ‘Hot Moments’ (i.e. sudden tension/conflict)
- Harvard University’s TEACHING IN TIMES OF STRIFE & TRAUMA: Curated Resources with Actionable Ideas.
- Stanford University’s ACT to Sustain Learning Through Current Events
Looking for support in your teaching on this or other topics? Contact the Collaborative for Teaching Innovation or Faculty Development.
Page Authors: Christine Bachen, Director of Assessment and Eileen Elrod, Associate Provost for Faculty Development