Tips for Teaching in a Pandemic
The final seminar for PRTM featured several award-winning teaching faculty sharing stories and strategies for providing quality education during this challenging and dynamic period. Assembled under the now infamous ‘big white tent’ outside of Jordan Hall, Martha Brown, Kim Bush and Nathan Williams took turns sharing experiences, lessons learned and collected ideas and information. A summary of these helpful gems follows:
Connect course topics to current events
Teaching assistant professor Nathan Willams noted that nearly a day goes by without a news headline being directly related to the work and research conducted in our department. Creating outdoor classrooms, preserving historic and cultural landmarks, limiting attendance at sporting events and managing the influx of tourists to North Carolina’s Outer Banks — all in the news and all relevant to what our students are learning in class be that in person or online.
Embrace technology and internet applications
Lecturer Martha Brown praised the online tool, Padlet, noting you can create a single or multiple walls that are able to house all the posts you need to share. Similar to “virtual sticky notes,” Padlet allows users to post an update with an identity or anonymously.
“Allowing students to post content anonymously gives them more freedom to express themselves,” said Brown. “I also recommend asking questions one a time so that responses relate to that particular question. It’s also important to periodically offer discussion time that is not recorded.”
Recruit and empower student assistants
Associate department head and director of undergraduate programs, Kim Bush, encouraged teachers to seek out and empower student course assistants.
“Many undergraduate students are hungry to be part of the department especially if they plan to go to graduate school,” said Bush. “Partnering with a student assistant is a win-win. The student can take attendance, assist with grading and keep a pulse on the class.”
“Students also help you understand what’s happening in their world, i.e. staying up late to celebrate a Wolfpack win or learning about a classmate’s personal struggles.
Sydney Jordan, a sport management major with a minor in psychology, is currently a course assistant for Bush.
“Sydney helps design presentations and adds timely memes,” says Bush. “She also monitors moodle and helps me better understand how a student would want to respond or contribute to certain types of discussions.”
Jordan hopes to transition into academia as a teaching professor in sport management.
“Co-presenting with Dr. Bush and helping her prepare for class gives me great experience and insight into teaching,” said Jordan. “I spend about 5 hours each week, some more some less, and we keep in touch via email and text.”
Bush added that she has been influenced by and thankful for all of her student course assistants.
“During the pandemic, several of my student course assistants really helped me convert online, run breakout rooms and handle some difficult situations that came up in an online environment.”
Everyone agreed that the pandemic has had a profound impact on students coming to class, in person or showing up online. Some teachers give extra credit points for attending in person or demonstrating levels of engagement during class. All believe that NC State and most universities will continue to offer creative and hybrid learning models going forward.