January 26, 2024 - Guidance for the Spring 2024 Semester

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome back after what I hope was a refreshing IAP. As we begin the Spring 2024 semester, thank you for the work you do in teaching and supporting our students. This email offers reminders of some best practices, some key policies, and resources for teaching.

Contingency planning:
Make sure that multiple staff, including the instructor of record, have access throughout the semester to grade sheets, student records, and class communication channels.
Develop backup plans for instruction and assessments in the event of substantial or extended illness, absence of instructors and/or teaching staff, or other unexpected disruptions.
Consider adding a plan for possible snow closings to your syllabus. General Information for Snow Closings provides guidance on how to deal with missed material or content from a canceled class. (Please note that faculty and instructors may not schedule an additional mandatory class session to make up for a canceled class.)
Please also consider in advance how you would prefer to deal with student disruptions to scheduled classes, should these occur. Some guidelines are available on the Faculty Governance website. You may also want to consider adding language to your syllabus or to Canvas about your expectations and/or MIT policy (relevant policies are referenced in the guidelines document).
Rules of the road:
If you are teaching Spring subjects, please bear in mind the following reminders of our policies on grading, assignments and exams. Reviewing syllabi in relation to our policies helps to limit student complaints about policy violations and ensure a more productive and successful learning experience for you and your students. If you have questions or foresee the need for an exception, please contact me as soon as possible.

Grading Guidelines: Reminder: At MIT the grade for each student is determined independently of other students – not on a curve. Make sure you review our grading policy.

Assignment and Exam Restrictions: Undergraduate subjects; Graduate subjects; Requests for clarification or exceptions

Scheduling Exams, Quizzes, and Review Sessions: Consider asking students to flag potential scheduling conflicts early in the semester to allow for timely planning.
Other resources:
The Teaching and Learning Lab has assembled a set of useful resources on generative AI and teaching. Their site also offers help in thinking through plans to ensure academic continuity in response to any unexpected absences.

Finally, the Division of Student Life provides resources for faculty to support student wellbeing, including a faculty guide on how to respond if a student in distress or having difficulty coping. There is also a network of support in student residences and other organizations on campus. If you see students who are struggling, please reach out to the nearest point of contact with any of those networks so that we can, collectively, help them.
Please reach out to me directly if you have questions or concerns about these policies, resources, and student accommodations either in general or for a specific issue. Your teaching is at the heart of MIT’s purpose, and my colleagues and I will do our best to support you in thinking through any questions that arise.

Warm wishes for the spring term,

Mary C. Fuller
Professor of Literature and Chair of the MIT Faculty