Prevent Burnout with Self-care Strategies

2nd annual T&L Day, Jan 21, 2022 HHS 204, 1-3:30 pm

– Part 1 in the 2022 Teaching & Learning Day Series

On January 21st, the Coulter Faculty Commons hosted the 2nd Annual Teaching and Learning Day with the theme “Prevent Burnout with Self-Care Strategies.”  The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Julie Harrison-Swartz, DNP, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, an assistant professor in the Department of Nursing at UNC Pembroke (recording available below). Dr. Swartz provided unique insight, as she is both faculty and a health care practitioner. Her research interest lies in ways faculty can support students’ well-being.

View Presentation

Dr.  Harrison-Swartz discussed stressors and how each individual’s perception of them is going to determine how they react physically and psychologically. Burnout occurs when individuals experience stress without relief. Burnout manifests itself as exhaustion, disengagement, loss of motivation, and depression. The pandemic has exposed us all to internal and external stressors for two years and it is taking its toll.

Strategies to Combat Burnout

Mindfulness is important as it makes us acknowledge our inner selves and be better prepared to take steps to better cope with the stressors in our lives: “Mindfulness is a non-judgmental way of paying attention to the present moment” (Centre for Mindfulness Studies).

Below we highlight how to practice mindfulness. WCU also has an institutional subscription to the mindfulness app Calm.  Use this link to subscribe for free. logo



Types of Mindfulness Practice:

  1. Seatedwalking, standing, and moving meditation (it’s also possible lying down but often leads to sleep)
  2. Short pauses we insert into everyday life
  3. Merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or sports.(
  4. Can be done anywhere, in your car, at your desk, outside (we have such a beautiful campus!), at home.
  • Set boundaries (time and space) for email, grading, other academic work.
  • Try to not check email at least one of the days of the week, perhaps a weekend day.
  • Find what gives you joy and disconnect long enough to relax, recharge and refresh: playing with your pet, creative outlets such as drawing, crafting, music, creative writing.
  • Most importantly, remind yourself why you are doing this. Have mantras like “We are in the business of changing lives” as Chancellor Belcher used to say. Or our current call “We are fulfilling our Promise”.


Centre for Mindfulness – –

Else-Quest, N., Sathy, V., & Hogan, K. A. (2022, January 18). How to Give Our Students the Grace We All Need. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Imad, M. (2021, July 8). Pedagogy of Healing: Bearing Witness to Trauma and Resilience. Inside Higher Ed.

Staying in Touch with Your Students – Communicating Through the Gradebook

By John Hawes, Educational Developer and Jonathan Wade, Senior Educational Technologist

There are nearly countless ways to stay in touch with your students. Zoom, emails, text messages, announcements, digital syllabi, and dynamic course schedules make it possible for instructors to reach out to students with a few strokes of the keyboard or taps on the screen. An often overlooked means to communicate with students is the Canvas Gradebook. Student surveys have shown that students seek feedback through the grading mechanism of the LMS. Pushing information to students through email or announcements from you is a wonderful way to communicate with them but using the grading function of the LMS can allow you to connect with them at a moment when they are seeking to connect with you. Consider that grading need not always be a permanent summative judgment but can also be an opportunity to help the student understand how to better understand the material. Dr. John Orlando writing for Faculty Focus observed that giving students an opportunity to revise and resubmit their work helps with student motivation because “… students who know that they have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and fix their problems will not be demotivated by their failures.” Resubmitting their works allows students a chance to better demonstrate their mastery to obtain a better final grade.

SpeedGrader is the portal that gives you access to the communication functions in the Gradebook like rubrics, comments, and the document viewer.

Rubrics in Canvas serve two basic communication functions. First, rubrics let the students know what the criteria are that will be used to evaluate their submission. Second, rubrics provide a means for instructors to let students know why they received the score they did. There’s a lot to consider when creating a good rubric. When designing a rubric, instructors should keep in mind what the learning outcomes are for the assessment. If it is to demonstrate understanding of a topic, use Demonstrated Understanding as the criterion rather than page or word count. When creating the text for each rating level use language that clearly differentiates how a submission met or failed to meet a standard. Check out the link below for more information. And of course, rubrics also make it easier to grade many submissions while still providing feedback students can use to improve future work.

Assignment Comments 

No matter how well you’ve designed your rubric, you may want to add some specific comments for a student. In SpeedGrader the Assignment Comment text box gives you the option of adding additional comments in multiple ways. You can type in your comments, attach a document, record audio or video comments or use voice recognition to add text comments. See the SpeedGrader link below for specific guidance.


Depending on the type of submission, you can also add comments directly to the document in the preview window. See the DocViewer link below for specific guidance.

Messages from the Gradebook

You can send messages to students using filters based on specific assignment categories:

  • Haven’t submitted yet – students who haven’t submitted the assignment, even if they have been manually awarded a grade.
  • Haven’t been graded – students whose assignments have not yet been graded (submitted or unsubmitted).
  • Scored less than [point value] – students who earned a grade on their assignment less than X number of points.
  • Scored more than [point value] -students who earned a grade on their assignment more than X number of points.

More than one student may receive the Gradebook Message, but each student will receive an individual (not group) message.

To chat with a member of the faculty partner team about communicating through the Gradebook click on this link to schedule a consultation




Designing Grading Rubrics

Using DocViewer in SpeedGrader

Sending messages to students from the Gradebook

Orlando, J. (2021, July 28). Use Revise and Resubmit Instead of Extra Credit [Higher Education]. Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning.

Prevent Burnout with Self-Care Strategies

2nd annual T&L Day, Jan 21, 2022 HHS 204, 1-3:30 pm

Join us for our 2nd Annual Teaching & Learning Day.  We will meet from 1 – 3:30 to discuss strategies faculty can use to prevent burnout in these demanding times.  We will also discuss ways in which we can encourage and support our freshman and sophomores whose academic preparation was affected by the pandemic. 

We have invited an expert on helping faculty prevent burnout through self-care to give the keynote address.  Dr Julie Harrison-Swartz, DNP, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, is an assistant professor in the Department of Nursing at UNC Pembroke.

In the second hour of the event, we will discuss supporting students to be successful. We had an unprecedented increase in failure rates last semester at WCU.  But we are not alone in this as other institutions across the country are also experiencing this situation. We will discuss what’s happening and brainstorm some ways in which we as instructors can help these students succeed this semester. 

Let us know you are going to attend REGISTRATION LINK

Getting the Most out of the Gradebook and SpeedGrader in Canvas

What’s Different about the Canvas Gradebook? 

The Gradebook in Canvas and the Grade Center in Blackboard are similar in many respects. The Grades link is how you and your students access the course gradebook – just like the Grade Center in Blackboard.  The gradebook is where you will view and grade student submissions and assign weights to assignment groups for Total grade calculation.  Unlike Blackboard, you can’t weight a column without putting it an assignment group. Also, you can’t manually create a column in the gradebook like you could in Blackboard, so you must create an assignment for a column to be created in the gradebook, even if that is activity is not submitted through Canvas.   

Enhancements to Gradebook include the options to automatically assign a zero score to missing assignments or deduct points for late submissions.   

Activities can be graded by simply entering a grade, using a rubric, or using SpeedGrader in Canvas, which is similar to Blackboard’s in-line grading function.   

With SpeedGrader you can:

  • View student submissions (text entries, website URLs, media recordings, and/or file uploads); preview supported file types in Canvas 
  • Make annotations on supported files 
  • Assign a grade based on your preferred assessment method (points or percentage) 
  • View Rubric to assist with grading (if one is added to the assignment) 
  • View comments created by you or the student about the assignment 
  • Create text, video, and/or audio commentary for the student 

How does this align to Canvas training materials?

Canvas logoPriming the Canvas: Module 1: Getting Started “Assignment, Grading and Quizzes”


Additional Resources:

Our next article will highlight Mobile Apps – Student & Instructorvisit Canvas Blog to see all our Canvas articles.