This is a guest Quick Tip from Meghan Porter, Department of Chemistry
Time is precious in live online classes. So, how can we find the time to build community, have students develop a comfort level with each other, and encourage them to arrive on time and be ready to go without sacrificing those far-too-few minutes? Here are two approaches I have found useful:
About five minutes before class starts, I hop on Zoom and begin with a random question having nothing to do with chemistry (see below for some to get you started!). Students can answer verbally or using the chat. Often these questions lead to a fun back-and-forth between all of us, and as the semester went on, students began signing on earlier to participate—meaning they are already on and ready to start when class begins! Examples:
- If legality and safety weren’t an issue, what would be your dream pet?
- When you are having a rough day, what is your go-to comfort food?
- Which reality show would you love to complete on? (no explanation needed )
In the last minute of class, students have the chance to type anything they are excited about in the chat and I announce them to the class so we can all celebrate (everything from getting out of quarantine to getting into med school has been met with cheers!). I have even noticed students staying after to continue to support their classmates until people have finished!
Building community in our classes is always important, but especially now, and it doesn’t take long to do little things like this that can matter so much to students feeling isolated from their peers. What ideas do you have for building community in your classes? Leave them in a comments below!
See more of Meghan’s approaches to building community in this video she prepared for our Fall Teaching Symposium.