Tuesday Tips, Tools, and Tech: How to Avoid the Tutorials Scheduling Dance

 

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.

 

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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.

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