Create a Culture of Caring
As a faculty member, you may interact with multiple students who are struggling for different reasons. While your role is to effectively teach to ensure that learning occurs, it is not to solve the problems of the students. This does not mean that you ignore student struggles, quite the opposite. As the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) pointed out in their 2020 faculty resource with Active Minds, Creating a Culture of Caring, “Although faculty cannot (and should not) be expected to replace the role of mental health professionals, they can...support struggling students.”
A few quick tips for creating a culture of caring summarized from the Creating a Culture of Caring resource are as follows:
- Tip #1: Create a relationship with your students where they feel ok asking for help. This can be done through a discussion with your students, a syllabus statement, and resources, and/or checking in with students for whom you may be concerned.
- Tip #2: Add self-care to your course. This can be done through setting deadlines for assignments at times like noon where students are encouraged to get sleep at night instead of submission deadlines at midnight, through assigning self-care as an assignment, and/or by allowing student support units to provide presentations to your class.
- Tip #3: Take care of yourself. You are a model of behaviors as well as knowledge. It is ok to create boundaries but explain to your students why you are doing it and why it is important.
The below resources will help guide you as a faculty member towards creating a culture of caring in your classroom and can provide even more tips for creating a culture of caring.
Creating a Culture of Caring: Faculty Resource – From Active Minds and ACUE, this resource provides concrete tips and strategies to build a culture of caring in your classroom.
Supporting Student Well-being Guide for Faculty/Instructors - From the University of Notre Dame’s McDonald Center for Student Well-being, this resource provides tips for connecting with students as well as strategies for promoting and modeling self-care.
Trauma-Informed Teaching & Learning: Bringing a Trauma-informed Approach to Higher Education - A blog by Janice Carello, this resource provides multiple posts specifically related to the concept of trauma-informed teaching and offers insight into ways in which we can meet our students where they are and foster a positive learning environment even in the face of trauma and hardship.