That is the question now isn’t it? As a teacher, where do you draw the line in terms of making yourself available to your students?
When I was in school there was no way to get in touch with the teacher if I had homework questions. If I was stuck trying to figure out what the “limit was as x approached infinity” in some crazy trig equation, I was on my own. Asking my parents got me nowhere (I tried once – they looked more confused than I was) and I couldn’t call my teacher. Teachers don’t give out their phone numbers. That would be crazy!
Today email and texting have taken the world by storm. In Canada alone 18 billion text messages were sent out in Q1 of 2011. Both are quick and easy and are a lot less intrusive than phone calls, which is why many prefer to communicate this way. Less intrusive sure, but enough to be a good way for teachers and students to stay in contact?
Some schools do have their own email systems available. It makes asking homework questions or handing in assignments very easy. Teachers can respond at their leisure in the evenings and on weekends. School email can also be monitored at all times—and it is. That makes it safe for everyone.
When it comes to texting however, or even Facebook friending and instant messaging, these raise all sorts of red flags for many. Why? That kind of communication can’t be easily monitored. Text messages are seen as personal, therefore unprofessional and carry a shady vibe.
Regardless, if you were out for dinner and got a text from a student about a trig equation, what would you do? Excuse yourself to respond or wait until later? Is this making yourself too available?
Technology in and out of today’s classrooms definitely adds a lot of shades of grey to a dynamic that used to be very black and white. Where do you draw the line?