Strategies for Educators to Thrive in Post-Pandemic Teaching

There is no going back to “before the pandemic” as students and teachers return to campus in the fall. Higher education instructors and leaders must take what they’ve learned in terms of student engagement and accessibility and incorporate them into their course design and lecture.

“Our decisions today will shift the future of education,” , said Sonia Chandarana Tandon, history professor at Forsyth Technical Community College, during REMOTE: The Connected Faculty Summit hosted by Arizona State University.  “We can be innovators by ridding ourselves of what we were doing in the past and embracing the exciting innovation that is already here.”

Tandon advocates moving away from what no longer serves instruction and learning—strategies, curriculum, instructional practice, or old ways of thinking. The future she sees is an “ecosystem based on a self-sustaining culture of innovation and lasting change: one that actively eliminates inequities by embracing diversity and promoting inclusiveness at every level.” And the future she sees is hybrid—blending the best of face-to-face and online learning.

Lessons from the Pandemic

The pandemic has been the largest disruption to education in history, and the enormity of the change was bewildering for many. While the pandemic exposed gaps and weaknesses in our structure, systems, and practice, Tandon is focused on framing a narrative for the future: how do we move from survival mode to thriving mode? We do this, in part, by becoming lifelong learners who can embrace change, learn, and adapt. Some lessons from the pandemic that colleges and universities can integrate into future plans include:

  • Closing equity and technology gaps
  • Putting Maslow before Bloom by providing holistic student supports before expectations for higher order of learning
  • Using technology for hybrid learning that engages students
  • Creating more professional development for the effective integration of technology into instruction and learning
  • Responding to the social emotional wellness needs of faculty and students
  • Planning for contingencies.

Strategies to Help Educators Thrive

Tandon had experience teaching both face to face and online when schools shut down in March 2020. She successfully transitioned her students to remote learning using the following strategies and emphasizes that disruption is an opportunity for innovation. Here are specific strategies she recommends instructors incorporate for an effective hybrid learning model moving forward:

  1. Backwards Design: a three-step process in planning instruction with the end goals in mind.
  • Identify learning outcomes: determine what students should know and be able to do at the end of the unit.
  • Determine acceptable evidence: what assessments supported by rubrics will be given to show evidence that students have understood and achieved the learning outcomes of the unit.
  • Plan learning experiences: figure out the why and where? Plan and scaffold learning activities that will help students achieve the goals of the unit.
  1. Pedagogies of Engagement: It is a communal learning experience that focuses on student-faculty contact, co-operation among students, and the active engagement of students in the learning process. Examples include:
  • Calibrated peer review: web-based management of writing with peer review in classes of any size.
  • Cooperative learning: students work in groups to accomplish learning goals.
  • Interactive lectures: engage students with course material through short individual, pair, or small-group activities.
  • Investigative case-based learning: students address real world problems.
  • Just-in-time teaching: students read assigned material outside of class, respond to short questions online, then participate in discussion and collaborative exercises.
  • Goal: Strategies to engage, eliminate bias, create a level playing field, create an environment of mutuality and inclusiveness.
  1. Creating Alignment in Delivery: syllabus, content, and course design.
  • Syllabus is an agreement between student and faculty. It provides a strong beginning to the semester, sets the tone, and outlines expectations, providing a conceptual framework for the course.
  • Content emerges from what the syllabus says will be covered in the course. Alignment is important.
  • Course design is the scaffolding used to hold together the online or hybrid course. It is integral to student success and engagement. Many templates available for designing a course – ex: Quality Matters.
  1. Using PDSA for Continuous Improvement: a cycle of renewal. Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle is a continuous process that can be used to inform best practices in online course design and instruction. Data informs each decision and next steps. Data incorporates grades, attendance, participation, emails, withdrawal forms, and more.
  • Plan: setting goals, devising plan or assessments (an example could be the goal that all students access, read and understand the information on the syllabus).
  • Do: Implement the plan using a scavenger hunt, syllabus quiz, discussion forum
  • Study: Analyze the results (study the results to assess if more interventions are needed.
  • Act: final step which closes the cycle, decisions can be make for future improvement.

Moving Forward with Optimism

Tandon notes that there were many positive lessons from the pandemic. Instructors and students developed resilience, determination, grit, patience, and hope. The fall offers colleges an opportunity to create the NEW normal. For instruction, the future will be hybrid says Tandon. “We need to be equipped for the future,” she said. “Return to school with a tool-kit of strategies, techniques, and the attitude of a lifelong learner.” Staying open to innovation and continuous improvement are important to creating an equitable ecosystem where students and faculty thrive.


For more articles from the REMOTE summit go to:

Preparing for the Unprepared: Strategies for Equitable, Inclusive Education

The Future of Admissions Presents Challenges and Opportunities

6 Evidence-Based Techniques for Hybrid Teaching

Lessons Learned From the Pandemic Will Forever Shape Higher Education

Higher Education Faculty at the Helm of Equality and Inclusion