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Guidance for physical teaching

The following guidance has been produced by the University to support safe learning and teaching in physical environments: 

  • 10 points to remember in a teaching space
  • Working together to stay safe 
  • Guidance for Socially Distanced Teaching 

Covid-19 Guidance: safety measures for teaching

The guidance aims to assist teaching staff in understanding the safety measures that have been implemented for the protection of both staff and students. This guidance has been produced by the Health and Safety Services and outlines simple actions that staff can take to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, including: 

  • Setting up for teaching 
  • During a teaching session 
  • Before leaving the room 
  • Use of face coverings/shields
  • First aid 
  • Fire evacuation 

The one-page Physical Teaching: 10-point guidance resource will be clearly positioned in all teaching spaces. 

It can be difficult to know what to do or say when you see someone not following the guidance. We have also produced some strategies called How to say when it’s not OK to help you intervene that are designed to change behaviour while minimising friction or conflict. These strategies follow a key principle:

Assume that the person has either misunderstood the current guidance or is unable to comply with it. Don’t assume that they are deliberately ignoring it. Most people comply when the rules are clear and consistent, and when resources are in place (e.g., supply of face coverings or hand sanitiser). 


Working together to stay safe

The University is committed to supporting staff and students in working together to stay safe. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) website provides guidance on what we will all can do to keep our community safe. It also describes how the University will enable us all to keep each other safe. This guidance may be a useful prompt for staff who encounter difficult situations with students in physical teaching environments. 


Guidance for Socially Distanced Teaching

When teaching in a socially distanced environment there are a variety of issues which may not immediately be apparent. This guidance outlines issues to consider when teaching in a physical environment with suggestions for managing these challenges. 

This guidance has been produced by Organisational Development and Professional Learning (OD&PL). 

The TIPS Community is a source for further ideas and examples from teaching staff who are managing the challenges of physical teaching and engaging in innovative approaches to online learning.

Issues to consider

  • Students may feel anxious about face to face teaching.  
  • Hearing each other and responding to facial communication cues is more difficult when wearing a face mask or visor; face masks will be particularly difficult for any students or staff who lip read (note a number of companies are producing masks with a clear panel for lip reading). Also, note that some students may be unable to wear face coverings due to health reasons. 
  • Lack of flexibility in the room layout. 
  • Working in groups or pairs can be more difficult when socially distancing – it can be harder to hear each other and there are considerations for supporting groups whilst keeping required distance, and with potentially limited space to move around the room. 
  • Shared resources such as pens, markers or documents are to be avoided so need to consider ways of producing and sharing group activity outputs. 

Suggestions for managing these challenges

  1. Build time into the first session for students to discuss and share any questions about the module – e.g. the content or the practicalities of delivery such as making the most of the face to face and online activities - and any specific concerns they have about studying face to face. Be aware, experience from some other educational settings has found some students can be more subdued than usual whilst they settle back into face to face teaching.  
  2. Note any information received about the specific needs of students in your module group/class and provide clear information about the resources you will be using, which technologies and whether sessions are recorded for recap. The Digital Practice site provides further guidance and advice about producing and sharing accessible learning materials. The Inclusive Learning and Teaching guidance covers the range of considerations for teaching activities. The Disability Services is also available to students for specific support and advice. 
  3. Consider using paired rather than larger group discussions to minimise the need to raise voices and limit the background noise level in the room which could make it harder to hear.  
  4. Check what’s available in the room you are using and let students know if you are planning activities that will work best if they have a tablet/laptop or phone with them, or if they need to bring pens and paper.  
  5. Technology can support paired or group activities and sharing, and the material generated during these activities can be available for either post session recap or to aid session catch up for any students who were unable to attend.   
    • If the task involves generating and capturing ideas, an online collaboration space such as Padlet can be useful for collating and sharing responses. Office 356 apps can be used for producing collaborative documents e.g. Word or PowerPoint.  
    • If you’ve set up the shared workspaces – e.g. a Padlet or Word document for each pair or group - you can see and check in on the work in progress online which can help mitigate any issues getting around the room. 
    • Alternatively, you might want to set some of the activities in advance of the session, and use the face to face time for each group to share and feedback on their work and discuss the outcomes as a whole class activity.  
    • Further ideas for group or paired activities.  
  6. Build-in time early in the module to ask for feedback on how it’s going – what is working well and what could be improved. This often works best if it’s anonymised, and using tools such as Padlet or an online poll means you can capture the outcomes without needing to take photos or write them up elsewhere. These are also good options if you want to avoid using shared materials such as a flip chart and post it notes. There might be feedback you can respond to immediately in the session, alternatively or in addition, you could use your discussion board in Minerva or the start of the following session to share your response to the feedback.       
  7. Minute Paper can be a good method to help students reflect on their learning and share with you what they are taking from a session and anything they haven’t understood. You could provide an online document or form to avoid handing out papers. 

The TIPS Community is a source for further ideas and examples from teaching staff who are managing the challenges of physical teaching and engaging in innovative approaches to online learning.