Ways to Show Compassion to Your Students

Decorative: A word cloud on the theme of compassion


"Profs Teaching Online Need to Focus on Increasing Their Compassion Toward Students" (post) lists ways instructors can show compassion to students -- an important complement to active-learning and engagement strategies for both student retention and student success.

  • "To be compassionate, means that we recognize we are all co-suffering, and that it is part of our work to have a sensitivity to and help to minimize some of that suffering."
  • "We convey to our students that they are active participants in their education, and – although it may sound trivial – that we care about them."
  • "In time, we may even find that compassion is one of the most important and effective engagement strategies – regardless of delivery mode."

1. Compassionate Pedagogical Strategies

  • "Increased flexibility on due dates and times"
  • "Generous assessment expectations including multiple attempts, more open book opportunities, and increased time compared to face-to-face equivalents"
  • "Reviewing and rewriting assignment and test questions to better fit open book and even internet-searchable responses"
  • "Replacing stressful online tests with projects or case studies"
  • "Recording all synchronous delivery and making it available for asynchronous learning as well"

2. Compassionate Community Strategies

  • "Check in with your students, ask them how they are doing."
  • "Creat[e] spaces that are as safe as possible."
  • "Liste[n] to and anticipating diverse student needs."
  • "Believe your students when they say they are struggling."
  • "Trust them to be doing their best."
  • "Be transparent about some of your own struggles and establish your own boundaries."

3. Necessary Caveats

  • "[B]eing kind and having compassion does not excuse students who ignore or fail to meet clearly-defined criteria, nor does it lower learning expectations or undermine your role as the instructor."
  • "However, being kind and having compassion does create healthy classrooms, lower anxiety, fear, and shame and also models important behaviour for life outside of and after university." 
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