Responding to incidents that affect the teaching & learning climate

In an event of an incident that can affect the teaching and learning climate (e.g. bias incidents on campus, national and global events), consider one or more of the following actions (choose a response that you are comfortable with):

Downloadable resource for instructors:  Incident Response and Resources

  • Take a minute at the beginning or end of class to acknowledge what happened and the impact it has on our community (students, faculty and staff); you can refer to the news, a message from the administration, etc. This can be a sentence or two.
  • Encourage your students to seek support from each other, campus resources, and family and friends.
  • Share resources for affected individuals (campus offices) and those who wish to support them (e.g. intergroup dialogue). Feel free to project the resources on the attached slide deck in class.
  • Acknowledge that not everyone is affected in the same way.
  • Ask students to consider their place in Cornell’s community, and what they can do to contribute to making Cornell more welcoming and affirmative of targeted students.
  • Ask for a moment of silence to hold the space and affirm those who are targeted.
  • Consider lightening the cognitive load in class (e.g., offer review sessions, extend timelines / due dates, etc.) as students work through their responses to the incident, which will be significant for some. Moments like these can have an adverse effect on learning.
  • If you are comfortable, facilitate a short write-pair-share exercise. Allocate about 3 minutes to write individually, ask students to pick a discussion partner, and then ask each person to share for about 3 minutes. Writing prompts might be, “How has this incident affected you? What do you think the impact has been for your peers?”