There's no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis has presented us with unprecedented circumstances that stretch the boundaries of our comfort zone.
In what can seem like bleak times, it's also an opportunity to be unique and meet students in their comfort zone - ONLINE. It's critical as we all move forward as virtual educators that we consider how to infuse equity into our work.
We know that many students and families are without a device or internet. We also know that one crisis can be the tipping point that creates disaster for under-resourced individuals and organizations.
Ask yourself this question:
How are you meeting the needs of students without a device?
How are you ensuring that students continue to have a support system that fosters success?
How will you engage students online - knowing how difficult it is to engage them face-to-face?
An online environment offers students the opportunity to control their learning and educational pace. Some students will thrive in these conditions and others will revert to habits of disengagement and apathy. We cannot wait to respond to student performance. We must act proactively.
YOU CAN create meaningful connections with students in an online environment, but it requires forward thinking and a new approach to hanging out - virtually.
Don't be dismayed if you reach out and hear crickets chirping. When you try to forge a relationship in person, it usually takes time. It can take even more time online. You might also find a quicker response from some students.
We are all stretched for time as we race forward into launching our educational rocket into the unknown galaxy of online engagement. Use strategic equity and inclusion planning as you begin your work.
Include things like:
Involving students as participants in the planning process. Ask them what they want.
Encourage students to use their personal gifts to help others (tutoring, supplemental instruction, service projects, educational programs).
Don't forget cultural competence training for staff. This can be done virtually, too!
Listen and respond empathically to students and staff.
Urge forward movement by everyone! It's necessary and will provide purpose and a distraction from the crisis.
Take advantage of resources like "Creating Connections". This 55 page E-book will help you craft a plan for success that provides tangible ideas for online events, academic success strategies, strategic planning, and online advising and coaching. You'll also get 32 cultural competency training modules that can be delivered to staff or tailored for building connections with students via email.
This crisis is not a short-term blip on the radar. It is a new reality that will endure for months. How we respond as educators will demonstrate our ability to be nimble, problem solvers that are essential to the future of our institutions. We don't know if students will be able to return to physical campuses in the Fall. The economic reality of refunds, extra expenses, hits on enrollment, and state-wide budgetary realities may necessitate budgetary cuts in the near future. Remain MORE THAN RELEVANT, as you move forward. Be transformative as you create connections in online learning communities and you will ensure student success and solidify your role as a campus leader.