The Center for the Advancement of Teaching stands firm in our commitment to supporting Black lives, both inside and outside of the classroom. We are outraged, not only at the recent horrific killings of Black people in America, but also because they underscore our country’s long history of racism toward Black Americans. This communication focuses on what we can do right now to care for and support students in our classrooms. 
Following and participating in recent events is having a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of our students and is affecting their ability to perform to their fullest academic potential. We urge instructors to be flexible and compassionate, and to consider strategies for reducing volume of work and stress for students, teaching assistants, and instructors. This can be done while maintaining high standards for depth of engagement and quality of work. Here are some issues to consider and resources to support your teaching.

To our Black Community: We see you, we hear you, and we stand in solidarity with you.


Some Key Considerations


Listen to Black Voices


These resources represent just a small sample of many voices:

A letter from UCLA's Afrikan Student Union (May 30, 2020): This letter can help all of us understand what Black students are experiencing right now.

University of Michigan, Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: "I Am So Tired" (May 29, 2020) This article by Professor Robert M. Sellers provides one perspective from a Black faculty member.

UCLA Newsroom "Protests for racial justice: Faculty share insights on responses to the killing of George Floyd" (June 1, 2020) This article has collected UCLA faculty quotes and insights about the killing of George Floyd and the protests for racial justice.

African American Policy Forum video "Under the Blacklight: The Fire This Time" (June 3, 2020): In the midst of a historic pandemic, this past week, the pain and frustration of those racial implications and the racial violence embedded in American history exploded into the streets. Beginning with protests in Minneapolis and spreading to cities across the country, there is an ongoing protest movement underway. Following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and George Floyd, among numerous others, police violence against Black people has re-emerged as a central focus of our political and cultural conversation. - Panel facilitated by Kimberlé Crenshaw and featuring UCLA Professor Robin D.G. Kelley and leaders. 

2.Reach Out to your Students

CAT echos recommendations from UCLA EDI, CEILS, and others on campus in encouraging instructors to send a message to students acknowledging that these events are affecting many of them. This guidance from UCLA EDI includes sample text that instructors can adapt. Hundreds of faculty have also already signed an antiracism letter to students. We invite you to consider joining this effort or starting your own.

3.Make Attendance Optional

If possible, make class attendance during Week 10 and Finals optional for students and/or provide alternative modes of participation that affords students greater flexibility (including asynchronous modes of communication).

4.Alter Final Assessments

If possible, exercise your right to change your method of final assessment as outlined under the current suspension of specific sections of Senate Regulations 332 and 505 (initially enacted 12 March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and reiterated in the June 3, 2020 memo regarding Spring 2020 Final Exams). Instructors have the flexibility to change their method of final assessments. Examples of flexibility you may want to consider include:

  • Offering lower stakes final assessments.

  • Implementing a more flexible grading scheme.

  • Giving students the ability to opt-out of the final and receive the grade that they have earned up to that point.

  • Allowing students who do complete a final assessment to receive the higher of either the grade that they would have received prior to the final assessment or the grade they would receive after the final assessment. This may be done for students who have already completed their final assessment.

  • Allowing additional time by extending due dates. Grades may be submitted to the Registrar's Office until 11:59pm on June 22, 2020.

  • Considering open book exams, collaborative exams, project-based assessments, and papers as alternatives to tightly timed examinations.

  • Reminding students that they have the option of changing the grading to p/np or to drop the course until the last day of instruction (Friday, June 5) without the need for petition nor the usual fees.

  • If you currently give credit to students who complete the course evaluations, consider the “no harm” principle so that students who are unable to complete the evaulation in this challenging week are not penalized.

We will update this resource guide as additional guidance and resources becomes available. In the meantime, we encourage you to review the memo on Spring 2020 Final Exams issued by the Academic Senate Leadership, as well as the recommendations in UCLA’s Checklist for Remote Assessment Recommendations, and in the Resources for Teaching through Traumatic Times from CEILS. Additional resources from UCLA and from external sites can be found below.

We encourage you to email us at [email protected] to suggest updates and revisions to this guide, as well as additional resources to include on our page. Thank you for contributing to this important conversation.


* This website has been updated based on feedback that we are not in a time of racial "crisis," which suggests that this situation is temporary, and to recognize that racial trauma for our Black students, friends, and colleagues is ongoing and systemic. We can do better.