Setting the tone activities

Authentic Open Letter/Video Addressing Students

Setting a human-centred tone to your class from the beginning of the semester.
Authentic Open Letter/Video Addressing Students
Educator prep: None
Student prep: None
Synchronous or Asynchronous
Shared online space
Duration: < 5 mins

Activity purpose

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

Useful for

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.

Preparation

Time to write the letter or prepare the video.

Instructions

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.

Duration

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

Technical requirements

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.

Useful resources

Examples

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:

More 'Setting the tone activities' activities:
Equity Unbound Activity
Survey students early in the semester: Pre-Course Survey
Use a pre-course survey to get to know your students early on in the semester.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Appreciative Interviews
To invite students to use their bodies to represent, collaboratively, an image of something that is worth discussing.
Maha Bali, Autumm Caines, Mia Zamora
Equity Unbound Activity
Purpose to Practice
Use the Purpose to Practice structure with students to co-develop “community guidelines” for the class.
Maha Bali

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