Four ideas for building rapport with students:
Tanya Boucicaut, Assistant Professor in Focused Inquiry, shared some ways to build community and connections between professor and students as well as student-to-student.
- Use an online messaging platform such as Slack or GroupMe. Slack is preferred because you can delete messages. Think about creating some guidelines to help students distinguish between this messaging service and their friends or family group chat. Compared to LMS discussions, these platforms allow students to create their own support network, respond to each other’s questions in a real-time way, and access via smartphones or tablets more easily.
- Vary grading modes. Try video or audio responses to assignments depending on your course material. These varied grading modes remind students we are actual people.
- Create a virtual “Workshop Day" where you and your students can logon at the same time and sit to do work together (distinct from office hours). Perhaps, playing some instrumental music in the background. This time gives you a chance for your learning communities to chit chat or even make connections for study groups or friends.
- Create a set of more personalized videos that relate to parts of your life. For example, for my first online course, I recorded videos around pivotal places in my life and asked corresponding questions of students. I went to my old high school, favorite library, the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach, my old colleges, and ended at VCU. Or you could create short videos of places around RVA that are meaningful for you. This approach helps students see significant parts of our academic or personal journeys in a low-stakes way.
Chet Wade, Adjunct Professor in the Robertson School of Media and Culture, shares his students' honest feedback about the challenges they face in fall 2020 and concrete advice on what faculty can do to ease their burden. We are grateful to Chet and his students for being open and providing these insights.
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