Seasons of the Semester
Access a reference for tasks and resources that should be completed by UM faculty each semester.
If you’re thrust into an unfamiliar teaching environment for the first time, the amount of information and advice you receive might seem overwhelming. You can start with three essential tasks: Gather Information, Communicate with your Students, and Plan your Course.
Even though we have been working under the constraints imposed by COVID-19 for many months, the conditions for our campus and your classes are changing constantly.
Stay up to date on information about the impact of the virus on our community by referencing the UM COVID-19 Information Page.
Track up-to-date statistics about the impact of the virus on our campus by referencing the UM COVID-19 Dashboard.
Staying in touch with your students about your course is especially important during these times of isolation. Frequent contact not only serves to transmit information, but can also help to build community and mitigate isolation.
Prepare Your Course
Even though Fall semester is already underway, there is always time to think through alternate strategies for course delivery.
If your department participated in the Resilient Teaching Learning Community, check with your department’s faculty leader for advice on course[How to build resilience for a course already underway] [How to address extended student absence due to COVID-19 or quarantine]
Once you’ve done these things, you can begin exploring your options for content delivery and assessment.
Make key planning decisions for your class, based on your chosen instructional mode.
Learn how to make your make your course equitable and representative for all students.
Learn how to ensure that your course is accessible and engaging for all students.
Planning ahead for final exams at a distance? Review suggestions for moving assessments online.
Find out how UM-supported classroom technologies can help you achieve your teaching goals.
Even though we are experiencing disruptions due to COVID-19, additional disruptions due to weather or other conditions are not out of the question. The following advice is based on general, non-COVID disruptions we my face in the future.
- Know where to get details about the closure or event: You will find latest information on official UM pages such UM Emergency Information. These are good places to look for information, including estimates of how long you may need to use alternative teaching approaches. You can also check with your Department Chair to see if there are department-specific issues or guidelines for you to consider.
- Assess the situation: How does the interruption impact your classes? Is the university closed? If so, for how long? Does the interruption only affect some students or all students?
- Assess your readiness: Are you able to work from home? Do you have internet at home? Do you have a work laptop or home computer? Are you comfortable with using technologies to teach remotely such as Blackboard?
- Communicate with your students: If an event necessitates a change in course schedule or structure, even if you don’t have a plan in place yet, communicate with your students as soon as possible informing them that changes may be coming and when and where they should check for more information from the university and from you.
- Create a communication plan: Once you have confirmed details, communicate them to students, along with more information about how they can contact you (email, virtual or online office hours, etc.). A useful communication plan also lets students know how soon they can expect a reply. They will have many questions, so try to figure out how you want to manage that. See the Review Resources section for more information.
- Consider realistic goals for continuing instruction: What do you think you can realistically accomplish during this time period? Do you think you can maintain your original syllabus and schedule? Do you hope students will be able to maintain the reading requirements of your course with along with a selection of assignments to add structure and accountability? Are you mainly concerned about keeping them engaged with the content?
- Review your course schedule to determine priorities: Identify your priorities during the interruption—providing lectures, structuring new opportunities for discussion or group work, collecting assignments, etc. What activities are better rescheduled, and what can or must be done using alternative engagement or delivery methods? Give yourself a little flexibility in that schedule, just in case the situation takes longer to resolve than originally thought.
- Review your syllabus for points that must change: What will have to temporarily change in your syllabus (policies, attendance expectations, due dates, assignments, etc.)? Since students will also be thrown off by the changes, they will appreciate details whenever you can provide them.