Principles to Communicating with Students

Keeping in touch with students is vital during any changes to your class(es) whether you are taking a planned absence or because of an emergency impacting all or part of campus. Make sure to let students know about changes in schedules, assignments, procedures, and broader course expectations. Early and frequent communication can ease student anxiety and eliminate individual questions.

Keep these principles in mind:

  • Communicate early and often: Let students know about any changes or disruptions as early as possible, even if all of the details aren’t in place yet, and let them know when they can expect more specific information. Don’t swamp them with emails but consider matching the frequency of your messages with that of changes in class activities and/or updates to the broader situation at hand (for example, the campus closure is extended for two more days; what will students need to know related to your course?).

  • Set expectations: Let students know how you plan to communicate with them and how often. Tell students how often you expect them to check their email and how quickly they can expect your response.

  • Manage your communications load: You will likely receive some individual requests for information that could be useful to all your students, so consider keeping track of frequently asked questions and sending those replies out to everyone. This way, students know they might get a group reply in a day versus a personal reply within an hour. Also, consider creating an information page in your learning management system (Compass, Moodle, etc.), and then encourage students to check there first for answers before emailing you.