This past week has been a very stressful and trying time for our campus community. I know many of you, like myself are contemplating how we will move forward. There is much that will be done in the local community and across campus to help us process and heal from these tragic events, but I know many of you are reflecting on how best to move forward tomorrow or the next day in your classes. Over the last few days, I have spoken to faculty reflecting on how they plan to move forward. Much like our students, each faculty member has had a unique, individual experience and response to the tragedy. Given that, the manner you move forward in your classes, and with your students, will be unique and somewhat personalized. Yet, I imagine there will be common themes throughout our community. I encourage you to move forward from a place of compassion with flexibility, and clarity.
Be compassionate towards your students, and colleagues. We have experienced these traumas together yet each of our reactions are unique. We need to stretch ourselves to understand and accept each other’s experiences as we heal and learn to move forward. There is no ‘right way’ to experience a tragedy. I like to keep the following quote in mind as I address uncertain times.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
Be flexible with due dates and assignments. Let your students know where you can and can’t be flexible moving forward. I encourage you to give them the benefit of the doubt and provide as much flexibility as possible. Let students know how to contact you if they need to request an extension or alternate schedule. Repeat this often and in multiple locations, email, Canvas announcement, announcement in class, etc. Students may have a difficult time focusing during their first day back on campus. Communicating this message multiple places will assure they hear the message you are sending.
Be clear about how you will address the tragedies. When we walk into a classroom after a tragic event, students aren’t sure what to expect. Will they discuss the event/s, will they move on as if nothing happened? I encourage you to let students know how you will address the tragic events moving forward. Are you going to spend time in class discussing and supporting each other or are you going to move on with class. If class starts and the tragic events are not acknowledged, it can feel like an elephant in the room. Many times it is enough to simply acknowledge the events, make sure students know where to find support and resources, and then let them know that you plan to continue class as normal.
**Refer to the message from Provost Chase and VP Yao on Monday 11/12 at 11:27 for a full list of resources available to faculty and students.