Radical Hospitality in the Classroom

“Radical Hospitality” is part of our Benedictine tradition and what makes Saint Leo truly unique, but what does that look like in class?  Radical hospitality includes creating a learning environment that is welcoming, inclusive, respectful, and supportive of all students.  It means being attentive to the needs, interests, and perspectives of each student, and providing feedback and guidance that helps them grow in their academic and personal goals.  It might involve inviting students to share their experiences and learn from each other while collaborating on meaningful projects.  Radical hospitality also involves creating a safe learning environment where students are challenged to think critically, creatively, and ethically about the issues and topics they study. 

That Important First Week of Class 

How do we help our students get started on the path to success in our courses?  What are some strategies to reduce anxiety and help them become part of our community of learners?    Do online students realize that if they don’t submit work during the first week of class (not before!), they will be automatically dropped from the class?  CTLE has created a “Guide to Radical Hospitality” to give you ideas, strategies, and important communications you may want to provide for your students.  We’ve also created a sample communication (email and/or course announcement) to online students regarding Required Course Activity During the First Week of Class

What About Student Disengagement? 

Student disengagement and absenteeism are serious challenges that affect academic performance and retention. To help faculty address these issues and support student success, we have created some resources on how to monitor, encourage, and intervene when students are missing class or falling behind,.  We’ve also included some strategies for keeping students engaged when they attend class.

Communication Strategies for Absent and Struggling Students 

At times during the semester, students struggle with attendance and completing assignments.   When this happens, it is important for the instructor to reach out to the students and let them know you are there to support them.  Below are a few strategies and examples that are tailored to different modalities (face-to-face, hybrid, online) and different phases of the semester/term.   

  • Talk with the student after class. 
  • Schedule a meeting during your office hours.  Face to face or via Zoom 
  • Be authentic in your outreach and communication.  Let them know that you care about their well-being and their learning.  
  • Rename your office hours as “student hours” so they know those hours are designed for them.  
  • Email the student with your concern. Not sure what to say in your email?  We’ve created various samples/templates for you to consider and revise to meet your needs. 

Email Samples

Face-to-face class: 
Online Class 

Effective Strategies and Best Practices 

Effective strategies and best practices for improving student attendance and engagement are paramount. There is a robust correlation between student engagement and retention rates. Active engagement in the learning process often leads to higher class attendance, increased participation in discussions, and, ultimately, a higher likelihood of students remaining enrolled in their classes and at the university. 

Our class discussions page provides valuable insights into fostering a dynamic and interactive learning environment. Creating a classroom community is another crucial aspect, as it promotes a sense of belonging among students, increasing their motivation to attend classes. 

Incorporating active learning strategies can significantly enhance student engagement by making learning interactive. Read the Chronicle article by Sarah Rose Cavanagh on How to Make Your Teaching More Engaging (chronicle.com). It is also essential to know your students well, as understanding their backgrounds and learning styles can help tailor teaching methods to their needs. 

Our Zoom teaching toolbox offers a wealth of resources for effective online teaching, a critical aspect in today’s digital age. Lastly, setting the right tone on the first day of class can significantly impact students’ perception of the course and their willingness to engage. Read Jim Lang’s article on How to Teach a Good First Day of Class (chronicle.com) to get more great ideas. 

By implementing these strategies, we can create a more engaging learning environment that improves attendance and enhances student success and retention. Let’s work together to make our university a more engaging and inclusive place for all students. 

Faculty Well-Being 

In the demanding world of academia, where passion and dedication intertwine with relentless schedules and high expectations, it is easy to overlook our own well-being. As faculty, we pour our hearts and souls into nurturing the minds and futures of our students, often at the expense of our own emotional and physical health. This relentless pursuit of excellence can lead to burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that can impair our ability to effectively serve our students and ourselves. 

The Harvard Business Publishing Education articles, “Educators and Students Are Burned Out. These Strategies Can Help” and “4 Ways to Teach with Compassion and Still Maintain Your Well-being,” offer valuable insights and practical strategies to combat burnout and cultivate a more balanced and fulfilling academic life. These articles remind us that our well-being is not a luxury but a necessity, and that taking care of ourselves is essential for our ability to effectively care for our students. 

Here are some key takeaways from these articles that can be incorporated into our daily lives: 

  • Prioritize Self-Care: Just as we encourage our students to engage in self-care, we must also prioritize our own well-being. Schedule time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s exercise, meditation, spending time in nature, or pursuing hobbies. 
  • Establish Boundaries: Set clear boundaries between work and personal life to avoid feeling overwhelmed and constantly connected to your work. Avoid checking emails or messages outside work hours and establish designated times for work and personal activities. 
  • Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to seek support from colleagues, mentors, or mental health professionals if you are struggling with burnout or feeling overwhelmed. Remember, you are not alone on this journey. 
  • Practice Compassionate Teaching: Teaching with compassion not only benefits our students but also contributes to our own well-being. Foster a supportive classroom environment, show empathy for students’ challenges, and demonstrate flexibility in your teaching approach. 
  • Cultivate a Growth Mindset: Embrace a growth mindset, viewing challenges as opportunities for learning and improvement. This mindset can help you navigate setbacks and maintain a positive outlook, even in the face of demanding workloads. 

Remember, faculty well-being is not a self-indulgent pursuit; it is an investment in our ability to effectively serve our students and contribute to a positive learning environment. By prioritizing self-care, establishing boundaries, seeking support, practicing compassionate teaching, and cultivating a growth mindset, we can create a sustainable and fulfilling academic journey for ourselves and our students. 

Click here to view the Wellness page!

We hope that this webpage will serve as a valuable tool for faculty to reengage students in their classes and foster a positive and supportive learning environment.   

Other Valuable Resources