7 Tips for Cultivating Empathy and Community in Your College Classroom
Hey fellow educators (& Beyond)!
We are now flowing into week #5 of the Spring 2023 semester -> a belated welcome back!
While there’s aways a lot to catch up on, let’s keep reminding ourselves of the power of patience.
Let’s keep in mind that our students, colleagues, and campus communities need us now more than ever. Whether you’re teaching one course or seven, there are a few keywords to keep in mind:
“patience, empathy, compassion, creativity, accessibility, inclusion, and community”
Here are a few suggestions to help you create a positive and productive learning environment:
- Remember that there’s no room for ego in teaching. Make patience, compassion, empathy, and understanding your mantra. Your energy is contagious, so set a positive tone from the start. Regularly express your gratitude, excitement, appreciation, and enthusiasm for teaching and learning with your students – that positive energy will spread like wildfire!
- Acknowledge that your course(s) have the potential to be a unique and powerful learning experience, far beyond the specific content you’ll be covering. We’re all human beings coming together in this shared space and time, and there’s always something we can learn from one another. Keep an open mind and heart, and embrace the diversity of perspectives in your classroom.
- Your class is a community, and it’s up to you to help foster that sense of unity. Use the first few classes to get to know your students and encourage them to get to know each other. What are their passions, concerns, and ambitions? Regularly revisit how they work together to achieve their goals!
- Collaboration is key – make your course a platform for community building. Encourage your students to share their ideas and work together to create something new. You’ll be amazed by the creativity and innovation that emerges from a truly collaborative learning environment.
- Remember, our students have so much to teach us. Each of them brings unique experiences, insights, and perspectives to the table. Make sure to listen and learn from them – you’ll be amazed by what you discover.
- Don’t waste your first class reading the entire syllabus – always start by connecting with your students on a human level. Learn their names, share stories, and make that vital connection that sets the tone for a positive and productive semester.
- Finally, make sure your course materials are accessible and inclusive. In 2023, there’s no excuse for a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching. Make sure your audio and video content includes transcripts and closed captions. Use high-contrast visuals and add alt-text to images for screen reader access. And most importantly, ask your students what they need to best receive the teaching materials. Your campus has resources to help you with this, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
Remember, teaching is a journey and a constant work in progress. We’re all in this together.
By prioritizing patience, empathy, compassion, creativity, accessibility, inclusion, and community, you’ll set yourself and your students up for successful and fulfilling semesters!