The Physical Class

On this page you can find useful guidance for making use of physical teaching spaces at LSE as a GTA.

Coronavirus and safe practice

Whether you are new to teaching or a returning teaching, it is fair to say that the on-campus classroom of 2021/22 will be very different to any of your prior teaching experiences (either as a teacher or a student).

LSE’s Curriculum Shift 2020 details the School’s ongoing response to the coronavirus situation, and how it is adapting its teaching, and other practices, to best respond to it to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students. The following is a list of important links to School resources that you should visit, and discuss various aspects of campus life, including how the School is handling the return to campus, the precautions and steps it is putting into place, and the support mechanisms available to you to both help you do your job under, as well as cope with, the current circumstances:

There are, of course, more general resources available on staff health and mental wellbeing - in particular the Staff Wellbeing website.

It is important to note that the School understands these are difficult times for everyone, and you are not alone.  If you cannot find the help or advice you need in these electronic resources, then please do not feel you cannot talk to anyone.  There will be people who can help in your department and other areas such as Staff Wellbeing, for physical and mental health concerns and, of course, the Eden Centre, for teaching concerns.

LSE teaching

The LSE Curriculum Shift 2020 framework details a broad range of changes being implemented across the School and informs the student the experience from the Welcome to new students through to summative assessment for courses and programmes. While the resources above will contain far more detailed information, key points to note are:

  • Lectures are expected to be provided online and asynchronously (though teaching sessions such as large cohort seminars with a high degree of interactivity may still be conducted under physically distanced rules).
  • Classes and seminars are to be offered both on-campus and online (though several departments will also run hybrid (sometimes referred to as hyflex) classes which combine online and physically present cohorts.
  • On-campus classes will be physically distanced, with classroom layouts that set students at 2m separation and provide teachers an ample teaching ‘corridor’ at the front of the class to navigate the teaching desk, whiteboard and projector screen.

This page will consider teaching in on-campus classrooms. For resources on teaching online, see here.

Teaching in physically-distanced classrooms

The Staff resource centre page contains several documents which cover the practicalities of teaching on campus this year, including 2 metre distance planning for all active teaching rooms, as well as circulation plans for various building across LSE.

Michaelmas teaching spaces

Michaelmas Teaching Spaces

The School has provided some example pictures of the teaching spaces that will be available in the Michaelmas term. These pictures will illustrate the 2m separation that the Michaelmas Term classroom layout plans observe, as well as the teaching corridor these provide for teachers. 

Preparing for physically-distanced learning and teaching

The Eden Centre has also compiled various resources intended to help teachers prepare for their on-campus classes.  This is intended to be a growing resource available to all staff responsible for class teaching across the School.

We shall link to this here, and strongly recommend that while it does not lie under the GTA Portal, you still consider it an integral part of your teaching inventory. Both new and returning teachers should find it useful for the coming year.

Scenarios for learning and teaching for Curriculum Shift 2020

We have also developed some example scenarios to suggest how you can adapt traditional approaches to teaching in your course(s) in light of LSE Curriculum Shift 2020. These approaches may be either approaches you have used in prior teaching or, if you are new to teaching, approaches you intend to use or have experienced as a student. You are free to adapt these scenarios for your course(s) requirements or use them as inspiration to develop your own.

Using technology to support on-campus classes

Physically-distanced classrooms can potentially pose some challenges to effective communication and interaction with students. In addition to the resources listed above, the following pages also discuss how you can use learning technologies to help support your classroom teaching.

Moodle, the School’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), offers a variety of tools that can be used to support class teaching, either before the class as pre-sessional activities (see the link to physically-distanced learning and teaching), or during the class.

Another supported platform that can be used to facilitate in-class interaction is Microsoft OneNote (which every member of LSE should have access to through their Office 365 account). Visit here for discussion on how you might use OneNote for teaching and learning, as well as links to additional training and resources.

Case Studies on Education at LSE

In addition to developing teaching resources for staff across the School, the Eden Centre shares the educational good practices from teachers across the School.  A good place to find out more is on our Case studies on Education at LSE webpage.

Feel free to browse these and be inspired, and if you feel you have a case study to contribute, we would love to hear from you.

Producing and disseminating class materials

The following resources give advice on how to create accessible materials in order to more effectively support your students.  While some of your students may have already submitted inclusion plans, there may be some who do not.  Embedding these design principles into your content creation simply enables your work to be as broadly accessible as possible.

Your departmental manager or course secretary will be able to help you with any materials you need for your teaching, such as photocopied handouts. These should be freely available to you but do check if there are restrictions or departmental guidelines.

Teaching room equipment

While teachers will not be required to wear a face mask or visor when teaching (due to the broad teaching corridor that the School’s social distance planning of teaching rooms provides) all teachers will be provided either face masks or visors.

The majority of classes at LSE take place in designated teaching rooms that are normally supplied with whiteboards and pens, an overhead projector, a visualiser (document camera) and an internal telephone to make emergency calls.

Most rooms are now also equipped with internet access as well as data, audio and video projection facilities. If you require any additional audio-visual (AV) equipment you can book them from the Audio Visual (AV) Unit in advance.

Several rooms are also being equipped to handle hybrid teaching (for example, adapting the existing lecture capture feed for use with Zoom)

You can also check the equipment that is provided in your allocated room before you begin your teaching. See the LSE Timetables Page and scroll down to the link to Teaching rooms. The site includes room layout, a photo of the room and details of the equipment provided.  While this is usually up-to-date, inevitably there will be rooms changes that are not reflected in the database, so it is always a good idea to visit your assigned teaching rooms before your teaching starts.  This will allow you to review the resources and layout, and help you plan how you will use them in your teaching.

Guidance on how to use the teaching room equipment is available online.

Unfortunately, in order to maintain the physical distancing rules that classrooms must operate under to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, rearranging the furniture and layout of the room is not allowed. Position markers will be provided on the floors to indicate the positions of tables and chairs if a previous class has rearranged things. We ask all teachers to respect these plans and of course hope that such measures are short-term.

Note that one of the most common problems you will encounter is a lack of pens or working pens. It is always worth carrying a few with you – your department may provide teachers pens for just such a reason – but make sure they are “dry wipe” pens, as other pens may be “permanent” and take considerable effort and special solvents to remove from the whiteboards. Pens are replaced every day by the room monitors, but they do not have time to check each pen. So when you realise a pen is dry, please throw it away rather than putting it back in the box!

Health and safety considerations

The School’s coronavirus (COVID-19) information page can be found here and contains information and advice for both staff and students. The Staff resource centre is also a valuable resource, linking to both physically-distanced classroom layouts as well as circulation plans for various campus buildings.

With regards to more general health and safety considerations, you should find teaching at LSE not generally hazardous, but GTAs have an important role to play in safety. All LSE teachers are responsible for the safety of students in their teaching sessions. Please ensure you are familiar with the information and guidelines provided on the School’s Fire safety information page.

More information about the School’s health and safety polices and advice can be found on the Health and Safety website.

Sometimes a student may be taken unwell during a class. It is important for both you and the class to remain calm. Specific guidelines will be made available for all teachers to follow and we shall update this page when that occurs.  For now, it is important to realise that if classes consistently observe the 2 metre separation plans, then a class may not have to be quarantined if any of its students take ill due to the coronavirus.

LSE is a very open institution in central London, and unfortunately does experience thefts. Never tackle a thief yourself or put yourself in danger but get as much information as you can to report to Security (ext 666) immediately. Do not leave items unattended or unsecured and remind your students to keep their personal belongings secure. Remember to log off any computers you use at the end of every session so that nobody else can use your computer account.

Further resources

Mapping the Teaching Environment. This post on the LSE Higher Education blog discusses how the seating plan or layout can have an effect on class participation and interaction. Of course, in the current situation, this impact is more acute, but it is helpful to understand just how the layout of a room can dramatically alter the classroom experience.

The Eden Centre’s Atlas programme continues to offer a range of events designed to help staff develop their teaching and support their students’ learning. Check the website regularly for new details on workshops being offered.