UW-Green Bay Director of Student Success and Engagement Vince Lowery advises instructors to prioritize a culture of caring for students as classes shift to alternative delivery modes. March 17, 2019.
As we work to transition our courses to alternative delivery modes and continue our semester, it is important that we recognize the disruptions that our students are experiencing. They’ll find themselves in modes of learning they didn’t sign up for, simultaneously trying to adapt themselves to those environments while managing the stress that life outside the classroom will bring: loss of hours at work, health risks that family members or they themselves face, and shortages of basic needs. Consider the disruptions you’re experiencing; now imagine not having the benefit of your years of life and professional experience, expertise, and resources to navigate the challenges that emerge. As the provost has signaled, let’s prioritize a culture of caring for our students, balance our course goals against the context in which we are all operating, and adapt to this ever-changing and unprecedented situation as it unfolds. Right now our students need our understanding, empathy, and flexibility, which cost us nothing and may make all of the difference to our students. Your willingness to adapt an assignment or extend a deadline, acts that acknowledge something is happening that bigger than your class, might prove to be the decision that encourages a student to persist in the face of adversity. As one student recently admitted, such an act “helps me not give up on everything.” Acknowledge the hardships they’re experiencing; offer to accommodate whenever possible; assure your students that we are all in this together. That’s how we’ll all persist to year’s end.
Vince Lowery is UW-Green Bay’s director of Student Success and Engagement and director of Gateways to Phoenix (GPS) Success.