March CFD Support: COVID-19, Remote Teaching, RSCA and Writing

Date: March 5, 2020

To: Faculty

From: Deanna L. Fassett, Director, Center for Faculty Development

Greetings from your Center for Faculty Development!    

I'm writing to you this month with a reminder about CFD's monthly writing retreats to support your research, scholarship and creative activity, as well as timely suggestions for navigating the pedagogical uncertainties posed by the spread of COVID-19. CFD staff members welcome your questions and requests for consultation.


How can my students and I better prepare for academic continuity during emergencies and other disruptions?

Give consideration to your own self-care and safety

You are a role model for your students, and, as such, it’s important to consider how you are modeling care for self and others. How will you take care of yourself should you become ill? What plans can you make in advance to take care of parents, partners, children or other relatives? If you are a parent, what will you do if your child(ren)’s school or care center closes temporarily? Thinking through these questions before and during times of uncertainty can help us act decisively and effectively. In the case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), you may need to teach remotely, and/or you may need to grant flexibility in mode of instruction for students who must take care of themselves or other family members.

In many cases, your first and best resource regarding your instructional assignment will be your department chair or program director; however, please know that CFD, eCampus, University Personnel, and other offices are available to answer your questions.

Be sure to follow public health department recommendations, including respiratory hygiene etiquette such as handwashing, covering your coughs or sneezes, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. Attend to messages sent via AlertSJSU. Consider bookmarking SJSU's COVID-19 Updates and Advisories, and FAQ websites. You may also find it helpful to follow updates from Santa Clara County's Department of Public Health.

Try to build in grace for students

To the extent that is practical and appropriate for your course, try to build in grace for students. Take time now to consult with colleagues about how you can maintain a fair and equitable learning environment for students in remote and/or online modes of instruction.

As CFD Director, I am happy to serve as a resource to you and your department chair in interpreting university policies, including serving as a sounding board about whether and how to change the mode of instruction for a course, how to maintain fairness or adapt grading in light of student absences, and how to develop/adapt a communication plan.

Our eCampus colleagues have prepared remote teaching resources, including workshops on leveraging Canvas and Zoom. eCampus instructional designers would be happy to answer your questions about moving materials into virtual mode in the event that you and your chair agree such a move is warranted.

Develop a plan for how you will communicate with your students during times of disruption

Taking care to share it with them via multiple modes. How will you communicate with your students? How will you field phone calls? Do you need to gather any information from them now in order to reach them during a campus closure or other interruption? Ask students to update their profiles in Canvas and make sure that they’re receiving announcements and messages in a timely way.

In addition to Canvas and Zoom, you have other communication tools that may be a good fit for you, your students, and your course content, including the Google suite (Mail, Drive, Docs, Slides, Hangouts, etc.). Where possible, try to make assignments, deadlines, and expectations clear, consistent , and reasonable--for you and your students. If there’s time to test this plan with your students, you should do so; this will allow you to refine your process before communication may become more challenging.

Keep in mind the needs of students who have disabilities

As you plan to incorporate online tools, be sure to keep in mind the needs of students who have disabilities.  It is more important than ever to make sure that your instructional materials are accessible. You can find resources on accessible instructional materials on the CFD website; please also feel welcome to reach out to eCampus instructional designers for assistance.

Consult with appropriate colleagues during uncertain times

When possible, consult with appropriate colleagues during uncertain times. Your department chair or program director will help you navigate your questions about your courses. Further, University Personnel can address questions regarding sick time and leave programs. Please reach out to Jennifer Redd and the eCampus team with questions about our online educational resources. Please reach out to Deanna Fassett and the Center for Faculty Development team if you would like help thinking through policy interpretations, grading and fairness, implications for RTP, and any other issues you or your department chair/director would like to discuss.

Remember, you can always find CFD events on the university calendar

Please join us for our upcoming writing retreat on March (3/27), if you'd like to have a clean, well-lighted place to work on your research, scholarship, and creative activity. From 9-10 am, colleagues from SJSU's Writing Center and Writing Across the Curriculum programs will guid e you in a strategic planning activity to help you make the most of your writing time during the retreat and for the remainder of the semester.

Please RSVP if you would like to join us onsite and for lunch, or please email CFD if you'd like to have a virtual writing retreat experience from home or elsewhere.

Deanna L. Fassett, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Director, Center for Faculty Development