I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have been stood up for tutorials many times. You know the expression: “Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me”? Well, yeah. . .that’s how I came to feel about the phenomenon of students saying they were coming to tutorials and then not showing up. I started to think, “Hmm, maybe this is a system failure.”
This one very simple practice has greatly reduced the number of times I have been left sitting in my room waiting for students to show up when I really needed to make copies or get my mail or just get out of my classroom and see if I can make contact with any of my colleagues.
In the past, my tutorial scheduling something really organized like this:
Me: Joe, you need to come to retake that quiz that you missed this week.
Joe: Oh, yeah. Okay. Umm, when can I come?
Me: Well, I’m here every day before school and after school.
Joe: Oh, okay. I’ll come tomorrow.
Raise your hand if you think Joe actually showed up the next day. No takers? Yep, that’s what I thought. We’ve all been there. Then, at the end of the grading period, all of a sudden, the classroom is overrun with students needing to make up work; and I’m staying at school until 5:30.
But no more, my friends.
After several years of my less than effective system, I began to wonder if there was a better way to get students to actually come to tutorials when they said they were going to come.
I noticed that when I needed to make a hair appointment, my stylist would ask me what time I wanted to come. I noticed that when I needed to go to the doctor, they penciled me in for a certain time. I noticed that when I met with a principal or a colleague, we set the appointment on our electronic calendars.
I know, ya’ll. This is ground-breaking. I mean, sign up for a time? Whoa.
You know what, though? It works. It’s simple, but I promise you this has greatly reduced my stress. And I’m all about stress reduction.
Here’s the skinny:
I create a generic schedule for the week of all the times I should be available for tutorials. You will notice that I have more tutorial times in the morning than after school. I get up really early.
Now when a student and I talk about scheduling a tutorial for a writing conference or to makeup an exam, the conversation goes like this:
Me: Oh, Joe, did you still need make up that exam?
Joe: Oh yeah, when can I come?
Me: There’s a Tutorial Schedule right by the door. Look there and sign up for a time. Exams will need to be scheduled in the morning.
Now, I’m not saying this is perfect. I can’t always predict meetings I will be called to, and there are times when a student and I have to reschedule because of unforeseen circumstances. I try to remember to cross off days when I know I will be gone or when I know I will have a faculty meeting. I’m still working on that. But I do find that everyone is more conscientious of everyone else’s time because of the simple act of signing a name on a schedule. Psychologically, there must a higher level of commitment with a time scheduled in writing. Now I find that students will e-mail me or tell me if they can’t make their appointment. I know exactly when I can leave my room to go to other parts of the building. I can share with parents which children have and have not been to tutorials.
And all of this makes Isgitt a much happier teacher and person. And everyone wants Isgitt to be happy.