Pause, Recognize, Assess
As educators, we are often in situations that call for nuanced and inclusive responses to deescalate ‘hot moments’ in real-time. Because there are myriad issues to consider when responding to a student, a student-student interaction, or even a faculty-student interaction, it is essential to remember that we must uphold a sophisticated level of critical engagement with students at all times. Students learn how to engage in collegial and civil discourse by emulating faculty who engage in democratic discussion.
When to Use
Difficult or charged moments in class, acknowledging community impacts, modeling resiliency, managing the classroom.
How to Use
Pause & Recognize
Recognize that something has happened in the learning environment requiring that the classroom discussion/interaction be halted.
Here are suggestions for pausing:
- “Let’s hit the pause button here as something has shifted in this space.”
- “I want to stop here, and recognize that something problematic/hurtful/uncollegial has been stated/shared/posted.”
- “Let’s pause right here. I am having an emotional response to something that has been shared in this space, and I may not be the only one feeling this way
Allow students to process and articulate their reactions and emotions in a private manner. Ask students to take five minutes to answer the Critical Incident Questionnaire (CIQ) and send their answers to you (privately).
It is important to recognize that faculty members are humans, and that heated classroom moments may bring up a series of reactions that require time to reflect. What is not often recognized, however, is that it is okay not to know how to respond in real-time. Instead, circle back with students and let them know you will address the situation via email later in the day, and in the next class period. Recognizing that these instances may challenge our courage in the classroom, it is important to reach out to a trusted colleague/ Chair/Dean and OTL director immediately after class. At DU, the director for inclusive teaching practices is available to help you address and work through classroom situations in the most restorative way possible.
Here are suggestions for communicating this to your students:
- “Thank you for filling out the CIQ. I will read your responses carefully and circle back with a plan to revisit what happened today. If you were emotionally impacted in today’s class, please reach out to me privately after class. I am here to support you.”
- “Thank you for taking the time to share your reflections on today’s class/discussion. I will be reading these carefully and reaching out to campus partners to explore the best ways of bringing our community together after today. If you were emotionally impacted in today’s class, please reach out to me privately after class. I am here to support you.”
- “I understand today was a difficult class, and I appreciate you all taking the time to reflect. If you were emotionally impacted in today’s class, please reach out to me privately after class. I am here to support you.”