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December 2020 TLC teaching tip: 2020 takeaway: Staying connected and building community

As we prepare for 2021, we paused to reflect on the past year and all of the changes 2020 brought with it. Maintaining connections and creating community in our classes remains essential to support our students’ success, regardless of our classes’ modality. Join us as we look back at some of our favorite teaching tips that can help foster a sense of belonging and create or maintain connections with our students. 

Online Discussions- While many of our educators were exploring new tools such as FlipGrid, they were also brainstorming on creating quality online discussions and using this activity to reinforce connections with their students. The Online Course Design Quality Checklist and other resources shared were first used to develop a plan that would make the best use of their virtual setting and context. April’s teaching tip highlighted the “Engagement” section from the Online Course Design Quality Checklist to help keep the online conversations going. At the same time, May’s tip promoted an evidence-based model to create significant online discussions. The TLC emphasized the importance of creating online dialog based on sound instruction as this can have many benefits, including supporting student persistence and success. We encourage you to look back through these resources for ideas on fostering community through discussions.  Group work- While multiple models promote best practices to structure and facilitate group work, February’s teaching tip focused on one key point to encourage a sense of belonging and community no matter which group work model you select. This tip encouraged our educators to clarify the WHY behind the group activity for their students. Explicitly stating which skills they will practice and the end product they will produce is essential for increasing buy-in.

Effective and efficient feedback practices- Providing timely and constructive feedback is essential to cultivate and maintain a connection between an educator and their students. Students will look to the educator for feedback and seek guidance and encouragement as an expert in their chosen field. If not provided regularly, this can significantly impact students’ success. The TLC dedicated several tips for exploring this topic. In June, we shared a video that detailed how to use the “Micro skills” teaching strategy called the “One Minute Preceptor” to structure teaching encounters when time is limited. In July and August, the tips explored different feedback approaches and the associated benefits. Take a moment to consider your feedback practices and reflect on how you use feedback to stay connected to your students. 


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