Four strategies for helping your students cope with additional stress:
1. Acknowledge that staying focused and getting work done is a challenge for everyone right now, including instructors. If you’ve made changes to your course to reduce students’ workload, mention those.
2. If you are comfortable doing so, share the self-care strategies you’ve found to be most helpful. In addition to sharing the wisdom you’ve gained from your additional life experience, this strategy can help restore a sense of connection with your students. You could even ask students to share their best self-care strategies with peers.
3. If strategy #2 feels way too personal for your teaching style, you can still acknowledge that many people are struggling and direct students to resources that will help them cope. The Dean of Student’s website provides many helpful links. The NDSU Counseling Center is still offering counseling sessions (now via video-conferencing).
4. Consider creating a space in your online course for nonacademic content (participation optional). I know some instructors are using a few minutes of synchronous meetings for students to introduce a pet or prized possession to the rest of the class. You could create a similar forum on Blackboard with a new prompt each week (e.g., post a picture from your last walk). Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in this last idea. I’m happy to share prompts I use for this purpose. firstname.lastname@example.org
** Tips and suggestions provided by Dr. Carrie Anne Platt, associate director College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences