Volume 1: Reimagining Remote Teaching, Issue 5 | GCTC

Volume 1: Reimagining Remote Teaching, Issue 5

by Dr. Kerri McKenna - August 13, 2020

Communication with our students during this challenging time is crucial. But our communication should not be limited to assignments, grades, and reminders of upcoming due dates. 

Obviously, we need to communicate all the above with our students, but these emails tend to be generic and unpersonal. During this crazy time, students need to know they are seen. We must try to reach out to our students and see them as individuals, even if they are living in our socially – distant world. You can help overcome this feeling of isolation by intentionally sending personal emails (or messages in collaborate) to your students each week. It seems time consuming, but it does not need to be. Your messages do not need to be long. They can be a simple “I wanted to let you know did great in class this week! Let me know if you need anything!”

One technique you can do, after grading each week. Is sort your students by their current grade in the class. I then send a BCC message to my students based on their letter grade. Here are sample templates for you:

  • A Students: Nice work this week in class. You are keeping up on your work, and I appreciate how much effort you are putting into class. I am glad you are with us!
  • B Students: You are holding your own in class. Your current grade is something to be proud of in a college class. Keep up the great work – and I cannot wait to see you next week!
  • C Students: I am glad to see you are attending class and completing assignments. This shows your commitment and responsibility to class. I do have a challenge for you: add an additional 30 minutes next week to your homework assignments and I bet you can bump those grades from a C to a B! And know I am here for you no matter what. Send me an email if you have any questions with your homework and I will gladly help!
  • Struggling Students (D / F): I see you are making some attempts in class, but I know something must be going on. Please, reach out to me so we can talk about what might be keeping you from doing your best right now. I know you can be successful in our course, so let me help you get there!

While the messages are short, and not 100% personalized with their names, they are more approachable for the students. They know it is about them and their performance, and you will be amazed with how many emails you will receive in response.

Just remember a few key ideas when writing your emails.

  1. Make sure you use inclusive language. Use “We” and “Our” as much as possible. These words let them know you are all in this together.
  2. Make sure you offer support and kindness. Let them know you are proud of their hard work, you are happy they are in class, and that they have much to offer our discussions.
  3. When replying to emails, start off with a simple “thank you for emailing” – to let them know you are listening to their voice and appreciate who they are. Especially when you have to give them news they might not like to hear.

In the end, it is important we all reach out to our students in an encouraging way throughout this semester. Each time we email, we get to explore the “non-verbal” side of our student we cannot easily see through our computer screens.