This series has been taking a deeper look at a study the Marzano Research Laboratory (MRL) conducted. So far, we have look at tips #1 through #5 of the 13 total tips identified in the study. This study evaluated the relationship between student learning and effective teacher pedagogical practices in online learning. The study specifically looked at Edmentum’s online solutions in three instructional settings—pure virtual, blended, and classroom/lab—across four purposes: original credit, credit recovery, intervention, and Advanced Placement®.
Today’s tip is the last of the six tips in the strategies involving routine events category. Next week, we will start on tips in the strategies enacted on the spot category.
Tip #6: Accessibility to students via electronic communication as well as face-to-face
The days of teachers lording themselves over students with an air of being unapproachable are gone. Teachers and students need to collaborate in many different ways in order to advance their common goals. That collaboration often doesn’t end with the last school bell of the day. How can you make sure students can ask questions and receive help in today’s connected world without it smothering your free time?
What are the best strategies to be accessible for your students?
First, any communication between teacher and student needs some sort of record that is easily accessible and shareable for accountability purposes. Unfortunately, we live in a time where some teachers have abused their authority in a variety of ways. You want to be able to prove that everything is above board.
That being said, most electronic communication would provide that record, even texting with a service like Google Voice. You want to make yourself available where students would be most likely to use the option, which means via text and on social networks. Check your district’s policies before implementing such an initiative, though.
The best idea might be Twitter. It’s always available (but easily ignorable) and limits the students to 140 characters, so they have to be concise. As you’ve probably noticed, some students have a tendency to ramble.
How often should you be accessible for your students?
It’s important to have a repeatable schedule no matter what communication strategy you choose. Make sure that schedule allows for a personal life outside of school. For face-to-face communication, let them know when you arrive at school and when you leave, and invite them to visit before or after school. Communicating during a student’s class is obviously fine, but interrupting another class is unacceptable. Then, depending on your needs, consider making yourself available electronically at a certain time (preferably during homework time) every night. You can still watch TV or participate in any other off-duty pursuit—just have your phone handy. Also, you are the only one who gets to decide whether something is urgent or can wait until tomorrow. To students, everything is urgent. You will often have a personal matter that takes priority, and you need to remember to exercise the right to your own priorities.
What is the most difficult part of being accessible for your students?
Frankly, some educators are so dedicated that they would make themselves available to communicate as often as possible. That creates many social problems as well as generates a higher probably for burnout.
In addition, making yourself available can also mean students will contact you with things that aren’t school related. Make sure you model appropriate communication and correct students who want to talk to you about their favorite TV show or the video game they’re playing. There’s nothing wrong with building rapport, but shelve those discussions until a more appropriate time.
Want to see more of the instructional strategies the Marzano Research Laboratory determined in the study? See all 13 Marzano best practices in online learning here.
Advanced Placement® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this site.