Wow- Lots of great suggestions in the Wood talk. Here are some I will work at integrating into my curriculum, both online and in on-campus classes:
- Be intrusive: coddling vs net of support. I will provide very generous time and attention to all students, and reach out via email and chat to those who are struggling. I might meet with students on a document or perhaps by skyping (or an equivalent technology) and other synchronous methods that I will explore. Additionally, I will, using Wood’s language, monitor those struggling students’ work and intervene, again, through email or other previously noted methods. Students who may still be on the proverbial fence about college may feel validated and empowered by being recognized by a professor who should speak of the students’ strengths first and then provide support to address the student’s shortcomings in the course, some of which may no doubt be simple time management or other non-academic issues.
- Be relational: Ample office hours, perhaps including an hour or so on the ground and always be available to listen, listen, listen may be key to retaining a student. I like Wood’s reminder that personalized notes via email or on assignments as commentary and feedback make the student feel recognized and valued.
- Be relevant: Here is one of my shortfalls as they relate to texts that reflect the identities of my students of color. Though I have read and love many texts and authors who share these identities, I know I could strengthen the diversity of my texts. I do assign texts by Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and the film El Norte, I have a way to go to balance my white male-authored texts. Wood makes a note about countering messages that equate race with crime and other negative images. I will try choosing texts that present characters of color as powerful, smart–heroic perhaps. Any suggestions gratefully welcome. I have a few in mind…
- Be community-centric: I like the suggestion about intro videos. If I were a student (the lens I use in planning an online course), I might hate this exercise, but in the end, I would probably really like it. I might ask students to talk a bit about their families’ traditions (if they have said traditions–I acknowledge that some, maybe many, students may not), which could open the door to an introduction that includes ethnic and racial experiences.
- Be race-conscious: I am questionably aware in my on-ground classes that when I have one African-American student, that that student may feel self-conscious if the class discussion turns to race. I do not know if this self-consciousness is a positive or a negative one; I suspect it depends on the student. I’d like to work on being more willing to address the topic of and learn ways to “read” those students of color so that I am not embarrassing them in any way, rather empowering, appreciating, and respecting them. I really like Wood’s suggestion to include images of people of all races and ethnicities in my online course.
- A few other points: monitor microaggressions in Discussion Forums. Have students create memes as part of an assignment. Check out lightboards. Be a great professor.