We’re about a month into this unique fall term of remote teaching. Congratulations on getting to this point!
You probably had to try out some new structures, technologies, and techniques to be able to teach your course in a virtual format this term. You are now far enough into the course to have a good sense of how things are going, and there’s still lots of time to make changes and to address any unexpected issues that may have come up.
So, now is a great time to pause and reflect on what you’ve learned and where you’d like to go from here. As you consider doing a mid-course reflection, here are three people you might want to check-in with.
1) Your Students
By now students have well-formed thoughts and feelings about your course. They also probably have a good understanding of what is working for them and any changes they’d like to see.
Because students are experts in their own experience, getting their feedback will help you better understand where they are and what you can do to improve their learning and experience in your course.
You can find great information, templates, and tips for gaining mid-course student feedback here. You can also consult with your colleagues or a Science Education Specialist to help you design and implement a student feedback activity that will help you get the information you want and need.
Here are some questions you can use to check-in with your students:
- What have you found to be helpful for your learning or overall experience in this course?
- What has hindered your learning or overall experience in this course?
- What could be changed to improve your learning or overall experience in this course?
- Is there anything else you’d like to share?
2) Your Teaching Team
This is also a great time to check-in with members of your teaching team, including any co-instructors, TAs, peer tutors, and support staff. Even though you are all working together on the same course, there is no doubt each member of your team is having a different experience.
It’s important that everyone on your team feels valued and well-equipped to carry out their role. Taking time to do a mid-course check-in with your teaching team will help everyone feel acknowledged and cared for, and will uncover hidden problems, inefficiencies, and misunderstandings. Your team will come out stronger, and your students will benefit.
Keep in mind that unequal power dynamics might cause some team members to feel uncomfortable or unsafe sharing challenges or suggestions for improvements. In this case, it could help to have a neutral party conduct the check-in on your behalf, such as a Science Education Specialist or someone outside of the teaching team.
Here are some questions you can use to check-in with members of your teaching team:
- What is going well?
- What challenges have you experienced?
- What changes could we make to improve your experience as a member of this teaching team?
- What’s coming up this term that we should be thinking about or planning for?
- Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Finally, it’s a great time to check-in with yourself. How are you doing? How is your work-life balance? Are you able to meet the needs of your students, teaching team, and loved ones, while also taking care of yourself?
Just like when on an airplane you are told to put on your oxygen mask before helping others, it’s important to make sure that you are taking care of yourself. If not, then burnout is inevitable and your ability to help others will be diminished. Remember, your needs are just as important as anyone else’s, so be sure to put your needs right up there with everyone else’s.
UBC Wellbeing promotes the Thrive 5 (now updated for the COVID-19 era), which are five research-based ways to support mental and physical health: movement, sound sleep, eating well, helping others, and social engagement. Taking care of yourself in these five ways will help you better care for others around you, including your students.
Here are some questions you can use to check-in with yourself:
- What’s going well?
- Where am I struggling?
- What am I doing to focus on my mental and physical health?
- What are some changes I want to make to improve my life and work experience?
- Who can I reach out to for support?
Is there anyone else you’d like to check-in with at this point in the term, or do you have any experience doing mid-course check-ins with students, members of your teaching team, or yourself? Please share them in the comments below or send me an email. I’d love to hear them!