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Guidance for Instructor and TA Absences

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There may be situations when you or your teaching team are unable to teach in person or unable to teach at all. Consider these recommendations for maintaining instruction for your students.

Check with your department in advance

Before the need arises, talk to your department leadership about what policies, guidelines, and support are available in case you are unable to teach a class session. This can vary between departments and schools. 

If you must unexpectedly miss a class, please notify any other instructor(s) and TA(s) in the course, along with staff and appropriate persons in your program, such as student services staff and faculty program leaders. If you will miss more than one class, please consult with your department chair or program director as soon as possible.

Use Zoom for remote instruction

When an instructor or TA feels able to teach but is unable to do so in person, consider temporarily teaching that session remotely with Zoom. In the case of extended absences or long-term changes to the course, please seek guidance from your department or unit leaders. 

Continue to let students use the classroom

Any class with significant undergraduate enrollment should, if at all possible, still allow students to participate from the classroom. Many Stanford undergraduates share rooms, so they are not guaranteed to be able to find a suitable place from which to join a Zoom session.

Leverage help from your teaching team

Large classes should have another member of the teaching team in the classroom to set up a Zoom session and help facilitate classroom participation.

Seek guidance for disability-related support

If you or your teaching team are unable or have difficulty teaching due to a disability, seek additional guidance from your department or unit leaders. You may also contact the Disability Access Office for assistance with workplace accommodations.

Leverage Canvas to maintain continuity

Many useful tools are available within Canvas to help maintain continuity in your teaching during an absence. Consider some of the following ideas: 

  • Use Zoom for remote instruction: Creating a Zoom meeting from within Canvas can be easier for instructors and students to keep track of Zoom links and recordings.
  • Pre-record short instructional videos: Instructional videos can range from informal video messages to supplemental lecture presentations. Consider these strategies for pre-recording instructional videos.
  • Curate supplemental resources: such as additional readings, online videos, and so on. Post them on your Canvas course site.
  • Prepare asynchronous activities: such as discussion forums, practice quizzes, or supplemental writing assignments, that students could take advantage of during your absence.
    • The Discussion tool within Canvas facilitates communication and engagement outside of scheduled class time.  
    • In addition to Canvas Discussions, EdDiscussion is a separate tool that can be used to facilitate online discussions for Q&A, small group discussions, and more.

Find more information on designing and developing your Canvas course at GoCanvas.