Whats wrong with Face to Face online conferencing with student

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Chalk, Mar 13, 2011.

  1. Chalk

    Chalk Companion

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    Mar 13, 2011

    I have been using skype, from home at night to host a help session for my History students. What I did is set up a separate account from my personal one and have given out the ID freely to my students and their parents.

    They can "call in" and i can hold a conference call with up to 5 at a time. I do this twice a week starting at 8 pm and typically ending around 9 or 9:30. Parents have skyped me to ask how their kid was doing or to get clarity on assignments and often times my more interested students will meet up with me to continue some debate we had in class. This is especially fun when I have students from two different periods debating a topic and we get to have a cross section of ideas beyond what was discussed in class. Normally I get about 3 to 10 calls on the nights I do this. O and we chat by webcam usually.

    HERE is the problem; a parent called the principal to tell him how great it was that I set this up. He comes to me and tells me that I might have to discontinue it for two reasons.
    1. he has concerns about web-cam use with students, he fears accusations of inappropriate conduct by the students. I advised him that I record each session using "frap" and he was ok with that (the students and parents know its recored)

    2. He says we may have problem because not all our students have computer or internet access and a parent may accuse me of providing unfair tutoring without giving equal opportunity to kids without computer access. I said I could offer to remain behind (after school) and tutor those who can't get to the internet session. He responded by asking how I would manage it, I would need a chaperon for safety sake and Parents will still accuse me of providing better tutoring and not exposing the students without computers to group learning sessions.

    WHAT THE HELL !! Seems like every time I try to innovate and go out of my way to make things better for my students. Something so stupid gets in the way.

    First we are told (by the public) to do everything we can to help their kids and then when we do we get our throats cut by the same screaming lunatic's in the general public.

    Does anyone see an answer for me?
     
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  3. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I commend you for all of your work and efforts in reaching kids! I also think it's huge that you problem-solved the situations brought up, and think you've brainstormed effective responses to both. Issue 1) seems to be taken care of, and issue 2) seems to be a matter of explaining that instructional effectiveness of an intervention is not based on the medium, but on the specific nature of the instructional strategies used. To me, there would be no research-based rationale for considering online tutoring to be more advantageous. Furthermore, not every student is the same, and "fairness" to me does not equate to treating everyone the same. In addition to that response, I'd say that if any of your students feel unfairly treated, that you'll respond to that and do what you can to equalize things at that point.

    Good luck!
     
  4. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    It sounds just like excuses to get you to stop providing this service. Maybe your P is uncomfortable with Skype and this is the only way of avoiding it? It sounds like you have all your bases covered so I don't understand myself why you are being provided roadblocks instead of support.
     
  5. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Reason number one—resolved.

    Reason number two—ticks me off. A lot. I wish every student had access to the Internet at home, but they don't. I wish every student could attend your sessions if they wanted to, but they can't because of work or other obligations. I wish every child had someone to take them to the public library, but they don't. I wish, I wish, I wish. This additional service you're freely providing isn't necessary for success in your class. You are going above and beyond. Those who can and do accept it, awesome. Those who cannot, it's unfortunate but reality.

    I was one of the have-nots in school and I would not have desired for a teacher to cancel this awesome help just because I couldn't partake.
     
  6. Mellz Bellz

    Mellz Bellz Comrade

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    Wow... I can't believe all that. I think most Principal's would be impressed with your integration of technology and the extra hours you are willing to put in. That's nuts!
     
  7. PCdiva

    PCdiva Connoisseur

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    Wow, that is awesome what you are doing, I at first thought the same about inappropriate accusations, but Frap is perfect for that!

    You can't please everyone I guess!!!

    ***If a student doesn't have a computer at home, can they not go the public library? The same thing they would have to do if they had hw that required a computer or that they will have to do in college and the 'real world'?

    Keep up the Good Work!!!
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I am in the minority here, but I just don't think it's a good idea.
     
  9. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    It sounds like either way you are going to be accused of something, according to your P....
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Chalk, do I understand that you're chatting via Skype and webcam with more than one student at a time?
     
  11. PCdiva

    PCdiva Connoisseur

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    Yes, that's what made me not immediately write it off as a bad idea....though she COULD have only one student at a time...but then at any moment another student or a parent can sign on and join their conference.
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I'm interested to find out how that works.
     
  13. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Mar 14, 2011

    I think it's a great thing and would have loved to have a teacher doing it well I was in school.

    You're just ahead of the curve. In the future there will be no such thing as a snow day. Skypish programs will be the norm, you're just going to be taking heat for being an early adapter and adopting new technology.

    Keep at it!
     
  14. Rox

    Rox Cohort

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    Honestly, I think the only people who oppose using current technology, no matter how helpful, are those who don't understand it.

    Is it possible that other teachers are feeling inadequate and are afraid that you would make them look like a bad teacher for not being able to Skype with their students?
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I suppose I'd be one who would oppose this sort of thing, but it's not because of the technological aspect of it, which I do completely understand. What I don't like about it is that it is one-on-one, after-hours tutoring. I understand that there might be others around to log in at times, but that's not required given the setup. I'd feel as uncomfortable if the teacher made him- or herself available at a coffee shop in the evenings for extra tutoring. I just feel like that sort of thing should be done at school.

    Besides that, I don't think that it's fair to suggest that teachers are inadequate or bad because they don't or wouldn't Skype with their students in the evenings outside of contract time. I would never want to be given the impression from TPTB at my school that this sort of thing were expected of me. My evenings are my own and they're meant for me to spend time with my family, not the students I already see for seven hours per day. Sorry if that sounds mean or like I don't give a rat's patoot about my students, but it's how it is for me.
     
  16. bondo

    bondo Cohort

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    I agree with everyone and would encourage you to keep going. It sounds like the P is just covering his butt and not looking at the best interests of the students.
     
  17. TechGuy

    TechGuy Rookie

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    in general I think the idea is bad because those tutoring hours are UNPAID and go into one's personal time! So if a teacher is choosing to do it for FREE and take away their personal time, that does not mean I am a bad teacher because of it.

    I have a life too.
     
  18. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    This is an interesting perspective, and especially with all of the other discussions going on now in the media, these forums, and the public in general, there is definitely legitimate concern for safeguarding teachers' rights to work what you get paid for. I personally do feel like there is a great unbalance in terms of what we expect from teachers these days - some teachers work very little, leaving at 2:30 and doing nothing the rest of the evening, and we don't say anything when they do worksheet lessons all day. Some teachers, on the other end of the spectrum, work far more than they are expected and paid to do, and we take those teachers for granted - not paying them, appreciating them, or even recognizing the work they put in.

    At the same time, I always come back to what is best for the kids. True, valuing and paying teachers for what they are worth is important, but my personal philosophy is that sacrificing to help kids is a value to me. I don't impose this on others, but when I hear someone that is willing to volunteer their time because they want to help their students achieve, I think that is a great thing to do. I wouldn't look at you, though, and say you're a bad teacher because you don't, but I get how the comparisons could start flying - that other teachers in the same grade as the OP might start to seem "one-upped" and feel the pressure to do the same.

    I guess part of how I've arrived at my philosophy is that I "came up" professionally in the camping world, and have worked a lot with kids with chronic illnesses. In the camping world, you put in 18 days, and when you calculate the hourly rate it's something like $0.27/hour :). I "grew up" professionally not expecting any sort of fair monetary compensation - just wasn't part of the picture for me. And with kids with chronic illnesses, their life isn't fair. Some were dying before they hit 18. The concept of setting boundaries on working conditions and demanding more money just didn't even seem like something I should be asking for.

    I don't say all this to say that expecting fair compensation and drawing boundaries to have a personal life isn't important - it is, and I don't disrespect your position. However, when I line up my priorities and values, I don't look down upon someone who is sacrificing to help students, even if that means that the OP isn't getting fairly paid.

    I think an even broader perspective is this: let's say the current "teacher crisis" is worked out - public perception becomes great of teachers, teachers are fairly paid for expected hours, there aren't conflicting curricular and other expectations passed down from all angles above, etc. There will still be opportunities to volunteer one's time and go beyond the scope of what's "expected," and I think that's one thing that makes many teachers great - their care and attention to the kids they teach isn't boxed in by what their contract expects of them. Yes, forcing teachers to work beyond their contract is exploitation, but a teacher choosing to do so is volunteerism and noble, at least in my opinion.
     
  19. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Mar 14, 2011

    Just select multiple names and you can conference call with the students.
     
  20. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    She is able to record every session. I feel that by making these records viewable by anyone she should be free from speculation.

    I will stay after school to help struggling students or to sometimes just provide a work space while I do my own thing at my desk. Because I do and another doesnt't should not at all give someone the right to claim I care more, just as the risk of that claim being made shouldn't prevent those who wish to give more of their time from doing so.

    I have no idea why I'm still surprised by so many of the lose/lose situations teachers face... :(
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Complete with video, or is that just audio?
     
  22. bros

    bros Phenom

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  23. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    I'm not a fan of the idea as I think that it could lead to trouble for the teacher.
     
  24. Chalk

    Chalk Companion

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    Mar 15, 2011

    Sorry for being so long in responding.

    I have a class in 17 minutes, but I will get back with you all this afternoon with a better update.
     
  25. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I agree, although I would state it a bit more bluntly.

    If I choose to spend part of my personal time offering my services or availability to help my students, then I will do so and it doesn't concern any other teacher.

    If they feel they are being "one-upped", I can't help that. I am not able to control how they feel or react to different situations. If another teacher wants to just work contract hours, that's his/her choice as well, but don't expect me to feel pressured I should conform to your standard any more you should feel pressured to conform to mine.

    I have a life outside of school as well, but if I choose to spend part of that life still working at the school or with my students for free, that is my choice.

    Chalk - I commend you for not only taking the extra time for your students and parents, but also doing so in a way that makes it readily accessible to them at home instead of having to drive back to the school after hours.
     
  26. Chalk

    Chalk Companion

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    Ok so I sent out a preliminary email outlining the concerns of the school administration and explaining that we may have to terminate the Tues/Thurs online session. I did not sandbag my Principal, I told him I was going to let the parents know before I sent it out and he understood. I parents called in to the school and the school board office. Every parent who called in supported my online tutoring. I feel good about that.

    The Principal contacted me today and said the Super had ok'ed the continuation of the program but wanted me to forward copies of each session to the Board office as soon as it was complete. He wanted a time stamped record so that no person could claim that I altered the data if a problem ever arises.

    As for the tutoring vs kids without computers. He said something that I had not though of.
    I am on my own time and not bing paid, hence it is charitable work no different than a English teacher reading to kids at a daycare or the school nurse helping out at the local free clinic. I have a skill set and I can choose to use it to help people on my own time as i see fit. He said, so long as I follow all the laws and rules of conduct, he would see me through any B**L S**t that might arise.

    I almost fell over, I never expected that hard nosed old scary super intendant to come out so protectively of a teacher and a program.

    So tonight, I tutor and debate with my gang.
    How cool is that?

    OH BTW, I should change my Avatar, but I like that picture. I notice many of you believe me to be a woman, I am a guy :eek:
     
  27. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    That's a cool update Chalk, and cool that people stood up for the best thing for kids, while still making sure things were "safe." It's interesting that you have to forward copies to the school board. It will be interesting to see in coming years as online activities proliferate how policies will continue to change. Not necessarily saying that every teacher will conduct evening classes, but think of all the possible online things that may occur, such as homebound skyping with kids in hospitals - will all of those be forwarded to the school board, especially in large districts? Interesting. But, at least you won this program.

    PS - I like the Avatar :)
     
  28. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Glad you've got the backup, Chalk!
     
  29. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    That is so great! It sounds like you had a lot of people in your defense. Way to go!
     

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