This week:

  • I tell you about a new report on preparing for fall teaching that Beckie and I wrote.
  • I point you to some resources about thinking of students as classroom partners.
  • I ask you to tell us what you think of the Teaching newsletter.
  • I share stories and resources on teaching you may have missed.

The Future of Teaching

As you plan your return to campus this fall, you’ve probably stumbled across a debate that has been brewing for the last couple of months. Are we “bouncing back” or creating a “new normal”? Are we resilient, or are we grieving?

This isn’t simply a war of words. Professors and academic administrators are thinking about what lessons to draw from the pandemic and how those will shape teaching and other student-centered activities this coming academic year. Yes, many people will be vaccinated. Social distancing has relaxed. And masks may become optional. But those are only the physical changes.

More meaningful are the changes that living, working, and studying remotely have imprinted upon many of us. And that is one reason so many people resist the notion of a “return to normal,” as if the last year and a half will have left no mark after the threat of Covid-19 has faded.

For some students and professors, this will have been a devastating 18 months that hindered their ability to learn or teach effectively. What kind of assistance might they need over the summer and into the fall, as they transition back to campuses and classrooms? Others discovered a form of creativity and freedom in online classrooms and work spaces. How can administrators help continue that flexibility in a campus setting?

To answer those and other questions, Beckie and I spent a couple of months talking to a wide range of people, including faculty members, deans, and provosts, as well as teaching and student-success experts. And we drew on our continuing work for this newsletter, taking what we hear from instructors and teaching experts and distilling it for a different readership: college leaders.

The result is a new Chronicle report, designed to help campus leaders plan for this coming academic year: “The Future of Teaching: How theClassroomIsBeingTransformed.”

The report includes discussions on hybrid classrooms, altered academic calendars, new forms of summer orientation, curricular reforms, and how to address learning loss and mental-health challenges, among other things.

Along with our reporting, “The Future of Teaching” includes findings from a Chronicle survey of instructors and academic administrators, conducted this spring, in which we asked how teaching and learning fared this past year, and what pandemic-driven innovations and changes they wanted to stick around. And we solicited advice pieces from experts like Sarah Rose Cavanagh, who wrote about the dangers campus leaders face of a faculty exodus if professors aren’t appropriately supported, including with time and money.

The last year and a half forced thousands of professors to rethink their teaching, often with good results. Heads of teaching and learning centers worked overtime to help instructors design online and hybrid versions of their courses and, in the process, reconsider how and what they teach and the best ways to engage their students. Many professors hope to keep those changes. But for that to happen, campus leaders must continue to invest in professional development, and be willing to allow instructors to try new forms of teaching.

Similarly, our readers know that professors and others hope to continue to offer some virtual options to students, including office hours and advising. They also understand that both new freshmen and rising sophomores need strong bridges to campus, as they catch up on what they missed and adjust to new campus routines. Campus leaders should to be thoughtful about the kinds of programming they will offer, in consultation with faculty and student-affairs staff members.

If you think your campus administrators might find the guide helpful, they can order it here. You can also read an excerpt from the report by Beckie, “A Pandemic Silver Lining? More People Are TalkingAbout Teaching.”

Students as Partners

In a recent newsletter I wrote about the value of having students serve as your partners in the classroom. Several colleges run programs that pair faculty members who want to strengthen their teaching with a student consultant. I asked readers if they had collaborated with students to make their teaching better. Here’s what they shared:

  • Letitia Basford, a professor in the Hamline University School of Education and faculty director of the campus center for teaching and learning, wrote in to share a recent working paper describing five recommendations she had gathered from a survey and informal interviews with students on what she calls “Covid keepers,” or pandemic-driven teaching practices that they would like professors to make permanent. Among those practices are helping students make sense of what is going on in the world, and professors showing vulnerability by asking how they can improve their instruction.
  • Steven L. Berg, a professor of English and history at Schoolcraft College, wrote in to share a free book he wrote, “Promoting Student TransformationataCommunity College,” published by Hastac in cooperation with the City University of New York. While it’s not focused specifically on professor-instructor partnerships, the goal is the same: to understand students’ needs and adjust your teaching accordingly.

How Are We Doing?

Beckie and I want to know what you think of the newsletter. What do you like? What do you want to see less of? What are we missing? Please tell us by filling out this survey. Thank you!

ICYMI

  • Your institution is failing students if it isn’t helping them understand the links between stress, trauma, and learning, writes Mays Imad in a Chronicle advice piece.
  • Instructors may struggle to use ed tech chosen by their college, while staff members and administrators can’t make the best tech choices if they don’t understand how instructors want to use the tools, writes Jenae Cohn, in this Chronicle advice piece.
  • Higher education saw the largest yearly increases in ed-tech investments in 2020 and 2021, according to the latest Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE) survey, by Quality Matters and Eduventures. “CHLOE 6: Online Learning Leaders Adapt for a Post-Pandemic World,” which focuses on insights from chief online officers, also looks at how they think it will affect the future of learning.
  • Colleges have long struggled to improve equity on their campuses. A new resource from the Every Learner Everywhere network has some guidance on how to begin: “Getting StartedWith Equity: A Guide for Academic Department Leaders.”

Thanks for reading Teaching. If you have suggestions or ideas, please feel free to email us, at beckie.supiano@chronicle.com or beth.mcmurtrie@chronicle.com.

—Beth

Learn more about our Teaching newsletter, including how to contact us, at the Teaching newsletter archive page.