Your students may need some gentle reminders too, before the stress of finals hits. Just as you helped direct students to resources in the beginning of the semester, you can remind them of just how much support they have as the semester closes. Here are some of our favorite reminders and ideas.
Review end-of-semester obligations with your students
If your course has a major final assignment and you haven’t had a chance to discuss it in class with your students, it is a good idea to touch base about it before the thanksgiving break. Depending on the nature of the project, you may want to reserve some class time for students to work on a project, conduct research, or workshop some of their writing. These “studio times” can be an important kickstart for your students, but they are also a great opportunity for you to see how students are thinking about a project before they submit a draft or seek feedback one on one. Make time for students to ask questions about what is expected (e.g. review your late work policy, formatting, etc…) If your course has a major exam, consider scheduling some review time and asking student to prepare questions or problems they’d like to review.
Consider offering flexibility
In our previous several semesters, we’ve worked with instructors to evaluate where they can be flexible in their course assignments and deadlines to accommodate student absences and stressors. This semester, much of that advice is still salient. If students have been struggling to meet deadlines, attend class sessions, or otherwise meet your expectations to successfully complete your course work, it may be worthwhile to consider where you can be proactively flexible for the last few weeks of the semester. Do you have any remaining assignments that can be modified? Do you need to plan to use class time differently in order to meet student needs? The best course of action is to return to your student learning outcomes and focus on what students need to demonstrate in order to be successful in meeting those outcomes.
Encourage students to seek support
Prompt your students to reflect about how they can finish the semester most effectively. Students can schedule appointments with a tutor at the writing center, get hands-on support with research from their librarian, or support from the office of academic enrichment. Remind students of the wealth of options available to them, and encourage them to seek academic support.
Open a door for future connection
Many students have enjoyed the increased feelings of connection they experience from face-to-face classes. Let students know how they can continue to stay connected to you, if you are open to writing letters of recommendation, or if there are opportunities to get a cup of coffee and build a mentoring relationship.