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instructor lectures in front of students
Brian Taylor for The Chronicle

It has been nearly two years since the abrupt pivot to remote teaching and learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While our campus has returned to in-person instruction, many students have yet to have the “normal” college experience and instructors are doing what they can to provide accommodations for students. We know there are many challenges everyone continues to face.

Published in the Chronicle of Higher Education are UNC faculty members Nicole Else-Quest, Viji Sathy, and Kelly A. Hogan, who share how to better support students without exhausting ourselves in the effort. Please see their article “How to Give Our Students the Grace We All Need.” As mentioned in the article, young adults and students are experiencing:

“…disproportionately elevated rates of stress, depression, and anxiety…trauma, grief, and financial distress, all of which undermine their well-being and their efforts to focus, learn, and perform in class. Some faculty members are experiencing these challenges, too.”

The UNC Professors go on to share ways to “adapt your teaching to promote flexibility, develop a welcoming classroom climate, and foster a more supportive and inclusive culture” (Else-Quest, Sathy, Hogan). They describe in their article ways to implement the following six ideas, which are drawn on “motivation research in educational psychology, as well as principles from positive education and trauma-informed pedagogy” (Else-Quest, Sathy, Hogan):

  1. Have a ready list of where students can find help
  2. Let students know you care
  3. Maximize the flexibility of your course policies
  4. Build a flexible course plan
  5. Reimagine classroom culture
  6. Leverage students’ values and goals

At the root of these ideas are compassion and kindness, as the authors recognize:

“As faculty members, we have an opportunity to help: We can give grace and support to our students and ourselves through this uniquely taxing time.”

We encourage everyone to read the full article “How to Give Our Students the Grace We All Need” in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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