The worst thing is… a student not getting the help he needs.
The worst thing is… a student going from struggling, to drowning, because she lets a small problem become a big problem.
The worst thing is… a student letting go of the chance to correct mistakes because of the hassle.
That’s a lot of worst things. But they happen way too often.
Here’s how I dealt with this for eleven years:
- I lectured students on the need to meet with me, especially when things don’t go well.
- I told students to meet with me.
- I told parents to tell students to meet with me.
- I threatened students who wouldn’t meet with me.
- I exacted consequences on students who should’ve met with me but didn’t.
Here’s what happened: students who had the proclivity to ask for help would meet with me and would thrive. Students with social anxiety, who were afraid of my bow ties, or who were too dang busy would not meet with me, and they paid the consequences.
What did those students learn about the importance of meeting with a teacher? Probably nothing.
Then, there was the other side of the problem. Students would email to ask if they could meet.
Email 1: Student: Dear Mr. Wolk. Can we meet to go over my project?
Email 2: Me: Sure. When are you free?
Email 3: Student: A block and B Block.
Email 4: Me: I teach A, B, and D.
Email 5: Student: How about Lunch?
Email 6: Me: I’m free Tuesday and Wednesday.
Email 7: Student: Wednesday Lunch works. See you then.
That process would take 2 days.
Then, on Wednesday, I would sit at my desk during lunch, until 2 minutes before the bell rang. And that’s when the student would show up to review his project.
OR: When I was free during students’ study halls, half of the period would pass, and then three students would show up at the same time.
I wanted to teach students that when you’re in crisis, you should ask for help. But asking for help was inconvenient for everyone. A pain in the butt. Time consuming and cumbersome. A headache for the student and for me.
There had to be a better way…
- A way for a student to access my office-hours calendar – in class, immediately after a confusing review session, right when the panic and anxiety hits.
- A way for the student to offer me two times, and where I could pick the most convenient one.
- A way for students to reserve 5 – 20 minute blocks which wouldn’t be “poached” by another student dropping by.
- A way for multiple students to fit into one 55 minute period.
- A way for me to approve or request a reschedule while on the go – from my phone.
- A way to sync appointments with my own Google Calendar and with my school’s Outlook system.
- A way for me to survey all the times a student has met with me, to include as feedback on ClassDojo.
As it turns out, there is. Schedule Once – I used the trial free account, then upgraded (gladly) to the pro account. It’s worth it.
I have more students visiting than ever before, but in a more orderly, dependable way. A student who panics when receiving a low grade on a test knows exactly what to do: make an appointment, now. They are empowered. And everyone’s happier.
It’s a good thing.