This week:

  • We review some of the more resonant topics we covered this year.
  • We tell you about a new virtual teaching series coming in 2022.
  • We point you to some stories about teaching you may have missed.

The Hit List

For the past few years Beckie and I have run the numbers in December to see which newsletters grabbed your attention most. It’s an imperfect measure of interest, for sure, so what follows is a combination of the most-read issues (all pandemic-related) and several evergreen topics that proved popular in 2021. That gives a more complete picture of where our heads were at during the past 12 months.

Most-Read Newsletters

Students Say Their Workload Increased During the Pandemic. Has It? That question encapsulated the uncertainty surrounding the pivot to remote education early in the pandemic. As everyone rushed to move their teaching online, instructors were often encouraged to scale back the work, yet students reported feeling overwhelmed with assignments. We dove into the paradox.

Before RollingOut Post-Pandemic Plans, Let People Grieve Administrators put a happy face on the in-person reopening of campuses. But for many faculty members, that enthusiastic return to “normal” felt hurtful, as if the long hours of work and worry over the previous months weren’t worth recognizing. This call to stop and reflect resonated with many of you.

After the Pandemic, What Innovations Are Worth Keeping? This was perhaps the defining teaching question of 2021. Early in the pandemic, professors thought long and hard about what mattered most in their teaching. Some radically redesigned their courses. Others found new ways to engage with their students, sometimes by letting down the walls around their own lives. All that left people wondering which of those changes should stick around.

Hot Evergreen Topics

Beckie and I took it as a good sign that some perennial debates in teaching resurfaced this year. You were able to come up for air and think, once again, about how to address some of the bigger questions in the classroom.

A Different Way of Thinking About Rigor” A couple of scholars suggest ways to get beyond the heated debate over standards versus compassion.

When Your Department Talks About Teaching” How one department was able to stay connected and continue conversations on teaching.

Before Rushing to Give Your Students Feedback, Read This” Recent research sheds light on whether immediate feedback is more valuable than delayed.

How Your Syllabus Can Encourage Students to Ask for Help” A study shows how the way you write your syllabus can make a difference in whether students are willing to ask for help. And in a follow-up issue, you shared some of your own strategies for creating a welcoming syllabus.

A New Teaching Series

We’re excited to announce that, starting in January, we’ll be hosting a series of four monthly virtual forums to discuss your most pressing questions about teaching. Our hope is to extend the conversations we start in the newsletter by gathering a group of smart, insightful teaching experts to talk about the big issues facing faculty members in the classroom today. Beckie will have more details in January, so stay tuned!

ICYMI

  • A professor in Idaho plans to teach critical race theory this spring, despite a state law. She tells Fernanda Zamudio-Suarez why in our Race on Campus newsletter.
  • A new paper argues that GPA restrictions in lucrative majors perpetuate racial inequity in higher education. Oyin Adedoyin interviews the paper’s authors in this Chronicle article.
  • How do you teach graduate students in the humanities to collaborate? Leonard Cassuto explores the issue in this Chronicle advice piece.

That’s a Wrap

Teaching is taking a break for the remainder of 2021. We hope you take some time as well to visit with friends and family members, and even read a few books (for fun!). We look forward to continuing the conversation about teaching in 2022. Happy New Year!

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.