Returning to the Classroom

It has been a long year of remote teaching and learning. The transition back to physical classrooms will be one that requires the same amount of flexibility, resilience, and patience. This resource poses questions to help you plan for this transition and to reintroduce some key considerations for in-person instruction.

Questions to Consider

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Planning Your Class
Plan for an in-person class as you would a Zoom class. Have you identified the main goal of your class, what you will need to share with your students, the activities that will help them reach the goal, and budgeted some time to check comprehension?
Do you have the materials you will need for your class? If you have handouts, do you have enough for all of your students?
For group work, or group discussion, how will you share the instructions? Do you have the prompts written? Do you have a plan if participation lags?
Have you located opportune pauses for questions, or to clarify potentially confusing points? 
Have you checked the classroom space? Will you need to rearrange the room to promote conversation between students? Have you budgeted the time to get there early to start your class on time?
What classroom technology do you plan to use during your class? Will you amplify your voice with a microphone? Will you use a projector? Have you contacted OIT if you have questions about your classroom technology?
Do you have an etiquette section on your syllabus about what your students should do if they are unwell? Suggesting, delicately, what they should do if they are not feeling their best, if they should attend class, or if there will be alternative options to attend, may help avoid distracting encounters during one of your classes.
The pace of an in-person class feels considerably different than one taking place on Zoom; it can feel faster and more seamless than online. As we transition back to in-person teaching, you might consider whether the amount of material and the pace of your class is optimal for your students. Have you considered varying your style of presentation to keep your students engaged? Are there opportunities to incorporate small group work into your plan and what does that look like?

 

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Teaching Your Class
Consider your place in the classroom space. Is there room to walk around? Are you going to stand by a lectern? Will you stand the entire time?
For group work, remember that you are now all sharing the same space. When do you think it will be important to act as a peripheral observer, interject, or leave the space to promote independent work? 
If you intend to teach with a mask on, practice with a peer, or with members of your household. How much will you have to project and enunciate to effectively communicate? 
Writing information down on a chalkboard or whiteboard is harder than you think! Have you practiced speaking and writing at the same time? Is your handwriting large and legible?
We’re used to different browser windows being open at the same time, but time management is always a challenge while teaching. Do you have a means of tracking time and do you have a strategy to stay on task?

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Ending Your Class
Be aware that students will not be able to leave your class and log onto another almost instantaneously so planning to end promptly an in-person class may be even more important than one conducted online. 
Save some time to review what you have covered, or allow for ending reflections. Having students write and submit one-minute papers or participate in exit polls is a great way to gauge student learning.
Remind your students of upcoming deadlines in-person. Even if it exists on the Canvas page, it bears repeating and in-person reminders can often convey the significance of the deadline more than text reminders.
Consider what form your office hours will take. Will you continue to offer virtual meetings or will they be in-person? If you have AIs, will they be able to decide their own form of office hours? Once you have a plan in place, it is helpful to think about the most effective way to communicate that information to your students.
Save some time for your own reflection. What worked well and what could have been better? Teaching is never simple or perfect, so the more we can learn from our own experiences, the better!