Humanising your classroom provides an opportunity to create an emotional connection with your students. Four principles guide humanised teaching: trust, empathy, presence and awareness. We need to intentionally build in activities that encourage social inclusion.

The week before lectures and the first week are considered “high opportunity zones” to engage with your students and incorporate kindness cues of social inclusion (Estrada et al., 2018).

kindness cues graphic

Here are some practical ideas about how to humanise your teaching

phase 1 migration 1

1. Create a humanised homepage

"You are welcome here"
Greet your students with a clear, friendly homepage when they arrive in your course, by including a brief video, displaying your face, that welcomes and explains how to proceed with the course. Showing your face and connecting with them in this natural human way enhances their learning experience. Here are some tips on how to record an introductory video in CILT's One Button Studio.

How to record an introductory video for your course

phase 1 migration 2

2. Provide an orientation module

"Here is what you can expect from this course"
Record a screencast navigating students through the course site and include help guides, links to important documents and software downloads. This will help your students become comfortable with your course space before they begin their learning.


phase 1 migration 3

3. Get to know your students

"have your students complete an anonymous survey"
Anxieties are highest in week one. In week one, have your students complete a confidential survey that provides you with information about their individualised needs. Be sure students understand who will have access to the data and that you will support them throughout the course with what they choose to share.

"I want to get to know you"
Create a space at the beginning of your course where students can introduce themselves. This can be in the form of a short text, video or audio note about who they are, their interests, career goals and their expectations of the course. This real-world connection reduces stress, prepares them to engage in course content, and enables them to discover shared interests with their peers. Use an asynchronous voice or video tool using Padlet for an added humanising kick! In synchronous environments, this can be done verbally.

phase 1 migration 4

4. Provide information about student services

"Help is available"
It is a difficult time for everyone. The university provides services for all student needs, including mental health, student wellness, disability services and more. Use the web content tool on Amathuba to link the student support page on your Amathuba site.


phase 1 migration 5

5. Regular communication

"I care about you keeping up"
With continued reliance on blended learning, it can be challenging for students to stay on track. Send a weekly reminder on Mondays to provide an overview and tasks of the week. This helps students pace themselves with regular engagement with your course.


phase 1 migration 6

6. Encourage student voice

"Your values and experiences matter"
Students come from widely diverse backgrounds and have different life experiences. It is important to involve students throughout the course in learning activities. Ask them to share their real-life experiences to make what Is learned contextual and to learn from others.


phase 1 migration 7

7. Check-in with your students

"If it's not working, let's improve it"
Knowing how your students are feeling throughout the course is important to tailor the experience to your current class. Run micro-evaluations using Wooclap after key modules or mid-course to get input from students. Use a start-stop-go approach to find out what you should continue doing, stop doing and start doing..

"Did you get that?"
Do a quick temperature check with students to see if they understood the course material. In asynchronous environments this can be through Checklists and Polls, which provide opportunities for students to assess their progress and teaching staff to receive a broad overview on how the class is progressing and to adapt from there. In synchronous lectures, activities include text waterfalls, sharing an emoticon, live polls or simply pausing and asking students if they understood the content.

phase 1 migration 8

8. Give warm and regular feedback

"I'm here to help you"
Your feedback is critical to your students' continuous growth, but how you deliver your feedback makes a difference. To support your students' continued development and mitigate the effects of social and psychological anxieties, follow the Wise feedback model (Cohen & Steele, 2002) which supports a growth mindset (Dweck, 2007). Support effort + ability + action. Experiment with delivering your message in voice or video to include verbal or nonverbal cues and minimise misinterpretation.



Cohen, G. L. & Steele, C. M. (2002). A barrier of mistrust: How stereotypes affect cross-race mentoring. In J. Aronson (Ed.), Improving academic achievement: Impact of psychological factors on education (pp. 205–331). Academic Press.

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House.

Estrada, M., Eroy-Reveles, A. & Matsui, J. (2018). The influence of affirming kindness and community on broadening participation in STEM career pathways. Social issues and policy review, 12(1), 258–297.