How to reduce stress before the start of the school year

Reducing educator stress
Tips for educators on reducing start-of-year stress & how Kritik can help

The end of summer is often met with mixed emotions; disdain for cooler temperatures, students excited about school and educators finding themselves both hopeful and stressed as the dawn of a new school year encroaches. But fall 2020 will be a school year start unlike any other we’ve seen, the threat of the COVID pandemic is still ever-present. Some professors are forced to start their school year teaching online, others in-person, and some will experience both with hyflex courses. 

On top of creating course content, educators are being inundated with questions from concerned students; adapting to new online teaching technologies that are too complex for most to use; and worried about having their in-person classes forced online if a COVID outbreak were to occur in their institution. 

We’re going to outline how Kritik can help you by reducing the stress experienced with planning & starting a new school year. 

Easily integrated

One of the main pieces of technology instructors may be using for the fall term is a learning management system (LMS), which houses student info such as grades and acts as a communication channel between instructors and their students. Kritik’s platform is built to integrate with existing technologies, so you’ll never have to worry about managing different systems, thus increasing your workload exponentially. 

Utilizing peer assessment

One of the biggest stressors instructors are facing today is the impact reduced teaching budgets are having on a faculty member’s support staff. Many institutions are cutting back on the number of Teaching Assistants or Teaching Aids allotted to instructors, thereby increasing the workload each TA or instructor will have to take-on. Peer assessment is a valuable tool in not only saving instructors much needed time from grading, but also a crucial tool in helping students develop their critical thinking skills.

By assessing other students' work, students themselves are exposed to new ideas, new viewpoints and new approaches that otherwise would not be exposed to them. By doing so, Students become curators of knowledge, not just consumers of it. 

Create low-stakes assignments

Often, most educators will assign a mid-term test, a final paper and a final exam or project as forms of evaluations on student understanding of course concepts. However, grading said assignments are often time-consuming and not beneficial to students. To ensure you are maximizing your teaching efforts, allow for more low-stakes, “mini-assignments” of sorts, to be added throughout the term to act as a temperature check on students and their understanding of course concepts. If students aren’t performing well, perhaps it is an indication that some concepts are not properly being taught and updates to the course should follow. 

By introducing more low-stakes assessments, educators can have the freedom to introduce new course concepts and evaluate early on if they are benefiting students or not. 

Create a sense of community

Your students are just as nervous and worried as you are starting this new academic year. It’s important to foster a sense of community between you and your students, particularly if you’re teaching online. Online courses that do not foster community bonds often see students disengaged with course material. Discussion boards are a powerful tool if used properly. Kritik’s discussion feature allows you to communicate directly with students. While you can certainly use it for class discussions, try to utilize the tool to engage students outside of class subjects. Use it to post related articles, funny videos, or daily tips. Anything you can do to curate an organic community online will go a long way in ensuring students feel valued and excited to learn. 

Fall 2020 will be difficult for many educators and their students, but it is also an opportunity to enhance student learning for the better over the long-term. By choosing technologies that work, not only are you saving yourself time, you are exposing your students to an enhanced way of learning that will last them a life-time. 

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Chris Palazzo
Marketer & Educator. Blending the two here at Kritik