Authentic Open Letter/Video Addressing Students

Being open about your humanity helps students realize you see them as whole human beings.

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The purpose of 'Authentic Open Letter/Video Addressing Students'

Setting a human-centered tone to your class from the beginning of the semester.

Activity description

  • Useful for
  • Preparation
  • How to do it
  • Duration
  • Adaptations
  • Examples
  • Tech requirements

Setting the tone and helping students realize you see them as whole human beings, by being open about your own humanity. Especially useful if you don’t have freedom to do this kind of thing in your syllabus.

Time to write the letter or prepare the video.


There are no rules. Just write a letter or film a video where you start with “Dear Students” and talk to them as if they were in front of you.

This is asynchronous and will take as much time as it takes you to create it 🙂

You could do your own, and then invite students to also create their own letter/video addressing you or the class. E.g. students can do “An open letter to my professors in Fall 2020” that encourages them to account for the most stressful elements of their lives this semester, or which tells them how to make learning more enjoyable for them. 

If you choose to go the written route, see:

  • This sample from Jessica Lifshitz where she reminds students “I want you to know that I, too, am walking into this school year carrying the weight of a lot of the things the world has thrown at us over these past few months” from and
  • This sample from UCDenver (which they shared on their website but also shared with us as a Google doc you can remix) which includes things like:

“We will privilege care. We will invite your feedback. We will listen to your concerns. We will be flexible with expectations. We will be reflective. With you, we will be creative.”

If you choose to go the video route, you may benefit from:

Nothing fancy. You can write it on a blog or as an announcement in your LMS or as a discussion forum. If you do a video, you can record it with any of the recording software available (even on your phone!) and post it to YouTube or on a shared drive or on your LMS/VLE.

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How do I use these resources?

We have created a welcome video and some introductory text that explains in detail how to use these resources. You can also find answers to some key questions below. 

Yes you can. We have included descriptive text and slides that you can reuse / adapt for this reason. We have suggested some variations for activities to help you make adaptations.

We show how much time an activity should take and what resources you need to help you make a decision.

As we include more resources over time you will have a greater choice of activities and more information about the different contexts within which they work best. 

Any technique can block some people out, make them feel unwelcomed, or be used in a way that privileges some and makes it harder on others.

All of these techniques should be used in conjunction with pedagogies of care and what we call Intentionally Equitable Hospitality

If you try an adaptation of this activity, or try it as is and have interesting results to share, please contribute your adaptation/reflection in the comments or get in touch through social media / email.

Coming soon: there will be room to discuss these activities in private discussion forums in OneHE’s.

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