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Centering well-being

Attention to student (as well as our own) well being is a critical component of effective and responsive teaching. There is a direct connection between well being and intellectual engagement, and “when students feel their best, they can live up to their fullest potential inside and outside of the classroom” (Kim, 2019). As Maha Bali (2015) noted in an essay on a pedagogy of care, “Sometimes, the most valuable thing we can offer our students is genuine care for them, their well-being, their happiness. Not just their grades. Not just their learning. But their whole selves.”

Sharon Ravitch’s reflections on why we need a radical new mindset to teach through crisis offers five important principles of what she calls “flux pedagogy:” 1) an inquiry stance and distributed wisdom approach; 2) radical compassion and self-care; 3) responsive and humanizing pedagogy; 4) racial literacy; and 5) brave space pedagogy. Similar themes are present in Cate Denial’s a pedagogy of kindness.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s essay on generosity in hard times and Nisha Sajnani’s piece based on her experience as a drama therapist also offer important and useful perspectives. As Cathy Davidson (co-author of The New College Classroom, 2022) emphasized in her post on the single most essential requirement in designing a course for the Fall of 2020, “Trauma is not an add on. From everything we know about learning, if the trauma is not addressed, accounted for, and built into the course design, we fail. Our students fail. None of us needs another failure.” 


If you know of a student who is experiencing financial hardship, please encourage them to apply for assistance through Macalester’s Emergency Aid Program. The staff in the Department of Multicultural Life and many other departments within Student Affairs are available to offer support. Reminder, if you are concerned about a student’s well-being, please complete this form. Should you have an emergency or an urgent student matter, please reach out to Public Safety at 651-696-6555.