Online Teacher Taxonomy

UCSD researchers have classified the types of in-person supports that teachers provided to students enrolled in online UC Scout courses. These seven roles are: (a) Humans as fixers/explainers of technology; (b) Humans as digesters of content; (c) Humans as explainers of content; (d) Humans as extenders of content, toward application; (e) Human as providers of feedback and assessment; (f) Humans as regulators of the learning experience; and (g) Human peers as supporters of the learning experience. Examples from each category are explained in great detail in the report. I offer a summary below.

5086

Personally, I should note that I objected to the phrase “humans as” that the researchers used as a prefix to the classifications in the report. I understand they were interested in examining the human role in virtual learning, but the language usage of “human supports” was off-putting to me and caused me to stop reading the report several times. Perhaps “in-person supports” would be less distracting.

Humans as fixers/explainers of technology involves helping students overcome tech glitches, broken links, freezing videos or animations. These tasks most likely do not require the presence of a highly qualified, subject matter expert and could be done by a paraprofessional.

Humans as digesters of content is when teachers cherry pick online material from the course that may be particularly important to upcoming assessments or activities. This could encompass creating study guides that help the students navigate through the large body of course readings and independent practice modules. Most likely, a subject matter expert is required for this task.

Humans as explainers of content. The UC Scout courses explain key concepts mainly via online text sections, then sometimes they supplement these explanations with videos, and/or animations. Many students required in-person support to clarify components that were not fully comprehensible to them. Again, a subject matter expert is most likely required for this complex task.

Humans as extenders of content, toward application describes class and individual discussions of course concepts. UC Scout leaves this to the instructor’s discretion. Some teachers heavily supplement online material with face-to-face discussions, which students credit with helping them apply the concepts rather than simply defining them correctly on assessments. This also included hands-on labs for science courses, where teachers provided in-person support for “doing science.” It is unclear whether this role could be fulfilled by an experienced TA, or if it requires a subject matter expert.

Human as providers of feedback and assessment asks a teacher to monitor student progress, provide 1-1 help and small group instruction on fundamentals that students do not understand from the online curriculum. This role requires an in-person teacher to use the data from the course, but also develop relationships with students in order to greater assist them. This role is especially crucial for students who are repeating a class and may require more monitoring and coaching from a TA or teacher in class than other students who are making good progress in UC Scout’s self-paced instructional program. Again, it is unclear whether this role could be fulfilled by an experienced TA, or a subject matter expert, who can verify student comprehension, adjust assessments based on student progress, and offer highly individualized motivational support.

Humans as regulators of the learning experience can also mean regulators of student behavior. TAs expressed frustration with students who did not want to be enrolled in the class and did not try to complete the course work. This function may not be essential if online courses screen for student motivation and do not allow these students to enroll in online classes. In theory in-person regulation of the learning experience should be unnecessary as computers should monitor and support individual pacing. In this study, however, there was considerable variation in the courses over the amount of in person regulation was required to keep low-income students on task. It remains to be seen how essential this role will be as online education matures.

Human peers as supporters of the learning experience is a role that was revealed by student surveys. When allowed to work together, students regularly relied on peers for support before and after turning to the adult instructors. Therefore, peer support may be provided by fellow students, course TAs, family members and not require a highly qualified teacher.

I have found this overlooked report to be very helpful in helping me understand the pros and cons of UC Scout. The goal of the premade, UC-vetted courses may have been to increase access to AP and A-G courses for low-income students, but the results may be another opportunity for the educational rich to get richer. Students who are experienced in digital education, motivated, and have educational support structures already in place will have an advantage over low-income students. I wonder what unintended consequences will result from this well-intentioned program?

Advertisements

Equity Issues In Online Ed

A recent 84 page report from UCSD dives deep into a myriad of issues around the online courses offered by UC Scout. Particularly, its focus on the ability of online courses to level the playing field and the recasting of the roles of a teacher in online education should receive more attention. Low income students are unlikely to have access to A-G courses that count toward college. These students are also less likely to have sufficient numbers of AP or Honors courses offered to them. The report indicates that UC Scout, formerly UCCP, was created to remedy this situation.

UCSD

Approximately 80,000 students enroll in the twenty-five A-G courses offered by UC Scout each year. Another program, UC Online, has received considerable criticism for failing to attract learners, only 1,700 students have enrolled in 14 classes (Asimov, 2013). After accounting for their $4.3 million dollar marketing budget, UC Online paid $2,529 apiece to attract each student willing to pony up $1,400 for an online course from UC.  Interestingly, a Coursera MOOC co-branded by UC Irvine has enrolled over 13,000 educators who want to learn The Foundations of Virtual Instruction.

There is skepticism in general about virtual, online, distance, hybrid, or blended education programs. Gary Miron and Jessica Urschel have done some interesting work researching virtual schooling. They report the on-time graduation rate for the virtual K12 schools is 49.1%, compared with a rate of 79.4% for the states in which K12 operates schools. Across grades 3-11, the K12 schools’ scores were between two and 11 percentage points below the state average in reading. In math, K12 students score, on average, between 14 and 36 percentage points lower than students in their host states, with the gap increasing dramatically for students in higher grades.

Alex Molnar also has some valuable insights on virtual schooling. Compared with conventional public schools, he found that full-time virtual schools serve relatively few Black and Hispanic students, students who are poor, and special education students. In addition, on the common metrics of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), state performance rankings, and graduation rates, full-time virtual schools lag significantly behind traditional brick-and-mortar schools.

Considering these results, it is illogical to assume that UC Scout will become a robust engine for improving equity in public education and enroll considerable numbers of low-income students in A-G coursework, or for AP credit without providing additional incentives for using their product. A recent test guaranteed UC admission to students who passed a college level Math remediation MOOC, completion rates were much higher than average.

Another overlooked benefit hidden in this report may be that the researchers investigating UC Scout have been able to identify seven supports that online teachers offer to their students. As the online education market matures (remember your introductory economics class – markets undergoing perfect competition have their profits return to zero), this framework may result in a new taxonomy for online teacher-student interactions, present important new variables to consider in classroom observations, or teacher evaluations, and provide additional data that may justify differentiating compensation rates for online teacher specialists. My next post will examine these seven supports.

Virtual school churn rates reflect a concern that the online education marketplace has preyed on our weakest and most vulnerable students. Early data from MOOCs show that the students most likely to complete course requirements already have college degrees and full time employment (Hill, 2014). If the online educational market proves to be a case study of the educational rich getting richer, is it morally acceptable to invest additional public education monies into this sector? Drs. Burch and Good argue this point in an upcoming book called Equal Scrutiny. If this pattern continues, perhaps instead of peddling to credit deficient students, students with behavior problems, and homeschoolers, online schools should only target proficient, advanced, and GATE students in efforts to prove that their learning model is viable and worthy of replication?

Sources

http://create.ucsd.edu/research/CREATE%20Equity%20RR_1Mar2014.pdf

http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/nepcrbk12miron.pdf

http://greatlakescenter.org/docs/Policy_Briefs/Molnar_VirtualSchools.pdf

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/marketplacek12/2014/06/digital_education_needs_more_accountability_researchers_say_1.html

http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/UC-online-courses-fail-to-lure-outsiders-4173639.php

New Roles For Teachers

2d1b247f-8e6f-52fc-a1b6-233778e1b271.preview-300

Petrilli (no relation) has recommended several approaches for realigning the teaching workforce to create productivity gains: 1) redefining the roles of classroom teachers to create a more productive and better paid workforce; 2) prioritizing salary over benefits to attract more aggressive workers; 3) paying for increased productivity by asking fewer people to do more work in order to get better results; 4) integrating online and “blended” education models into public schools. I have not heard of any districts using this advice. As educational leaders look to MOOCs for additional cost savings in public education, perhaps two other proposed efficiencies should be reconsidered.

Per pupil weighted formulas

Hill (2012) suggested federal, state, and local governments combine funds spent on K–12 education, divide it by enrollment, assign it as weighted fractions on a per pupil basis that will ensure sufficient equity, and then distribute those dollars to schools directly. This would force a significant reduction in expensive administrative structures, because money would not be held by centralized bureaucracies to preserve particular schools or programs, but would flow wherever students are educated. This type of revenue stream would help schools eliminate district and state barriers to innovation that are inherent multiple layers of management.

Zero-based budgeting

Jefferson (1995) proposed decentralizing educational budgets to allow the disbursement of funds aimed at maximizing student development. A strategy for decentralizing budgets is zero-based budgeting, which requires a full analysis of operating programs. Jones (2012) clarified that zero-based budgeting called for an intensive examination of all aspects of government programs and their effectiveness. Governor Nathan Deal required zero-based budgeting for 37 of Georgia’s Department of Education programs in its 2014 state budget. Most schools simply review the revenues and expenditures from the previous year with the understanding that everything is working. Zero-based budgeting requires that school leaders assess the best use of taxpayer’s dollars and allocate the money as if they were personally writing the checks.

Reporting administrative and business expenses via per unit costs, replacing restricted categorical funding “buckets” with per pupil funding and using zero-based budgeting methodologies to scrutinize legacy programs may have a profound effect on how schools make financial decisions. By streamlining funding sources and reducing restrictions on how funds are used, school governance structures may be able to more explicitly report spending trends, because there will be fewer categories of funds.

Largely absent from the discussion on MOOCs is reasoned debate on how schools can increase efficiency and productivity. Public education has already identified methods for reorganizing school districts and reducing costs by analyzing district business and administrative costs on a per unit basis. Bydistributing school revenues equitably, transparently, and in ways that allow schools flexibility with funds, decentralized school governance models could implement zero-based or per pupil budgeting at their school sites. While additional gains in teacher effectiveness may be realized by using technology to enhance productivity, the promise of realizing substantial savings from MOOC implementation in K12 pale in comparison to the suggestions listed here.

Sources

Hill, P. (2012). The costs of online learning. In Education Reform for the Digital Era (pp. 77-98). Eds. Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Daniela R. Fairchild. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Washington, D.C.

Jefferson, A. (1995). Decentralized budgeting: Getting the most out of disbursements of funds. Education Canada, 35(4), 33-35.

Jones, W.C., (2012) State’s zero-based budgeting program to focus on education. Morris News Service. Monday, June 11, 2012. Athens, GA.

Petrilli, M. (2012). How school districts can stretch the school dollar. Policy Brief. Accessed at http://edexcellence.net/publications/how-school-districts-can-stretch-the-school-dollar.html

Reducing Costs in K12

Computer Dimploma

MOOCs have recently inspired educational policymakers to think about cost savings and new efficiencies as technology enhances pedagogy. Yet all K12 education units can become more cost-effective by improving their delivery systems. Butler, Haldeman, and Laurans (2012) illustrated how the traditional school model spends over half of its budget on labor, with the remainder mostly allocated to school operations. A blended, partial on-line schooling model could offer yearly savings of approximately $1,100 per student; and a virtual school could save approximately $3,600 per student. Considering that most urban high schools have thousands of students, the savings from an effective blended learning program could be sizable. Also, as demand creates a larger supply of online course content, the online costs will decrease further.

District Business and Administrative Costs

Cochran et al. (2011) acknowledged district reorganizations do not always result in significant savings, however, there are numerous savings opportunities in purchasing costs, and also in personnel costs associated with multiple layers of management and decision making. The Council of the Great City Schools has performed industrial benchmarking on 340 performance indicators for the nations largest urban schools and finds it is possible for districts to save between $50-$100 million annually by bringing their business services, finance, and technology operations in line with best practices (Casserly and Carlson, 2011). Further, for-profit colleges spend less than a third of what public universities spend on educating students, yet they charge nearly twice as much (Aud et al., 2012, p. 104). Public schools may extract additional cost efficiencies from best practices used in the for profit sector.

Per Unit Costs

Examining spending in per unit terms requires uncovering key cost drivers, deconstructing spending patterns, and creative thinking about tradeoffs (Hill & Roza, 2010). Historical practices in school finance become legacies when each department, program, or school summarizes its expenditures in terms of personnel, counted as full-time equivalents, or FTEs. These are bulky allocations that make incremental cuts difficult. Districts rarely merge or scale back programs so for district leaders trying to make spending cuts the only options are to eliminate an entire program, which is politically very unpopular, or to make smaller decreases in each unit’s budget (Hill & Roza, 2010). Budgeting in per unit terms can stabilize the budgeting process. Managing budgets in per unit terms might even be a way of containing costs and avoiding built-in cost escalators, which typically run 4.5 percent annually (Hill & Roza, 2010, p 25). What inefficiencies have you noticed in the school budgeting process? What productivity gains do you envision as teachers flip their classrooms and professional development moves into the MOOC-space?

Sources

Aud, S., Hussar, W., Johnson, F., Kena, G., Roth, E., Manning, E., Wang, X., and Zhang, J. (2012). The Condition of Education 2012 (NCES 2012-045). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC. Retrieved July 1, 2012 from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch.

Butler, T.B., Haldeman, M., and Laurans, E. (2012). The costs of online learning. In Education Reform for the Digital Era (pp. 55-76). Eds. Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Daniela R. Fairchild. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Washington, D.C.

Casserly, M., and Carlson, R. (2011). Managing for results in America’s great city schools: A report of the performance measurement and benchmarking project. Council of the Great City Schools. Washington, DC.

Corcoran, J., Gilyard, R., MacBride, L., and Powell, J. (2011). Large-scale cost cutting and reorganizing. Conference paper prepared for the American Enterprise Institute and Thomas B. Fordham Institute conference: A Penny Saved: How Schools and Districts Can Tighten Their Belts While Serving Students Better. January 11, 2010.   http://www.aei.org/event/100164. Washington, DC.

Hill, P., and Roza, M. (2010). Curing Baumol’s disease: In search of productivity gains in K–12 schooling. Center on Reinventing Public Education. University of Washington Bothell. Seattle, WA.

MOOCs as a K12 Cost Reduction Strategy

 

Saving-Money

Many policymakers are eager to realize the potential cost savings from MOOC-ifying public education. Yet scholars have previously identified methods for reorganizing school systems to gain more efficiency that have been routinely ignored. Granted they will require considerable effort at the federal and state level, as well as within districts and individual schools, however, immediate savings can be attained by rigorous analysis of costs on a per unit basis. Then school funds can be distributed equitably, transparently, and in ways that allow schools additional flexibility. This will allow decentralized school governance models to implement zero-based or per pupil budgeting methods at school sites. These savings efforts should be initiated before schools attempt additional efficiencies like online or blended learning education models. That way savings can offset MOOC infrastructure and production costs with any remainder to be reinvested into meaningful ed tech R&D.

Industrial benchmarking practices will allow districts to reorganize the way they deliver non-educational services more efficiently. This will allow schools to achieve additional labor efficiencies by implementing effective programs already in place in similar districts. The Council of the Great City Schools has analyzed 340 performance indicators and found it possible for districts to save between $50-$100 million annually by bringing their business services, finance, and technology operations in line with best practices.

Schools that exploit modern technologies, using the Internet, digital information systems, and computerized instruction, can transform their core economics and performance. Online schools typically employ about 1 educator for every 35 students, while traditional public schools employ 1 teacher for every 15.8 students.   This suggests that schools can become more productive by using technology to assist with tasks like planning, content presentation, assessment, and reporting; which will free up expensive teacher labor for high yield work like providing one-on-one instruction and personalizing pedagogy. The savings from reduced labor costs could be used for additional investments, like increasing teacher compensation, offering performance pay incentives and making the job more financially attractive to highly qualified teaching candidates.

Further, the online segment could be used for training teachers to be more effective in areas like classroom management, differentiated instruction or standards-based grading. Perhaps online instruction could provide the public education system with differentiated career paths in teaching. Online teachers can choose from multiple roles like advisor, synchronous teacher, synchronous tutor, and asynchronous grader. This would allow teachers to take on more specialized and manageable online roles tailored to their unique skills. Different pay rates and work schedules would allow additional flexibility and build greater efficiencies into the workforce. For instance, instead of having to take leave from teaching, parents of young children may be able to work evening shifts or flexible part-time schedules as asynchronous graders, or as on-line instructors/advisors.

Sources

Casserly, M., and Carlson, R. (2011). Managing for results in America’s great city schools: A report of the performance measurement and benchmarking project. Council of the Great City Schools. Washington, DC. Accessed at http://www.cgcs.org/cms/lib/DC00001581/Centricity/Domain/81/Managing%20for%20Results_2012.pdf

Chubb, J. (2010). More productive schools through online learning. Draft conference paper prepared for the American Enterprise Institute and Thomas B. Fordham Institute conference, “A Penny Saved: How Schools and Districts Can Tighten Their Belts While Serving Students Better,” January 11, 2010. Accessed at http://www.aei.org/files/2010/01/11/More%20Productive%20Schools%20through%20Online%20Learning-%20Chubb.pdf

MOOCs in the Classroom

MOOCs in Class Rebecca Griffths

In the Ithaka S+R publication MOOCs In The Classroom?, Rebecca Griffiths asks many important questions. While the collegiate market is an interesting Petridish (pun intended) for economies of scale experiments, this post will argue that K12 would be an even better place. The K12 education market is made up of over 3,000,000 students in the US, who must typically endure 6 hours of instruction per day for 180 school days to move up to the next grade level. In most cases, these students are mandated by compulsory attendance laws and are required to be in school until they are 18 years old.

A typical first generation MOOC was a mix of multi-media, self-graded assessments, discussion board postings, and peer review. Faculty members developing 2.0 MOOCs have come up with innovative ways to improve them. Some will test whether they can “flip” their courses without having to create lecture videos themselves. Other instructors will weave the critical thinking focus of their courses in via seemingly unrelated subject matter. For instance, a program for incoming college freshman uses social networking activities to improve students’ personal health habits while “teaching” a class called Health in America.

All of education could benefit from discovering the cure for Baumol’s disease, when institutional costs rise annually without commensurate increases in output, or productivity. This phenomenon was named after economist William Baumol, who observed productivity in labor-intensive services lagged manufacturing, because labor-intensive services cannot cut staffing without reducing output, and compensation costs constantly rise (Hill and Roza, 2010).

The K12 arena provides a more robust experimental setting, because unlike the collegiate market, K12 students are not directly paying for their own education. Hence, it stands to reason that these students may be even less motivated than college students. Therefore, if MOOCs can be used to engage K12 students and factors can be discovered that help them persist until course completion, this could substantially benefit all of education.

Is anyone researching whether MOOCs can be used to improve outcomes, or reduce the costs of teaching students in middle and high schools? We know from research that hybrid course formats have the potential to improve student outcomes and reduce costs. Yet MOOCs only seem to benefit students with healthy amounts of intrinsic motivation (Bok). How much scaffolding and encouragement from face-to- face instructional coaches would online courses need to yield better outcomes? Maybe 2.0 MOOCs will be better able to improve the college readiness of students struggling in mediocre high schools? Conversely, perhaps the costs of adding high touch personalization elements will destroy the cost efficiencies inherent in the MOOC model?

These are questions I would like to learn the answers to, however, the major MOOC players are preoccupied with finding profitability and answering to investors. Perhaps when the dust settles and the principal players (Canvas.net, CourseBuilder, Coursera, CourseSites, EdX, Mooc.org, P2PU, Saylor.org, Udemy, and Udacity) have all conceded to a merger, we will be ready for some experimentation in the K12 market.

Sources

Bok, D. (2013). Higher Education in America, Princeton University Press. New Jersey. http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10059.html

Griffiths, R. (2013). MOOCS in the classroom? Ithaka S+R. October 28, 2013. http://www.sr.ithaka.org/sites/default/files/files/S-R_BriefingPaper_Moocs_20131028.pdf

Kelly, A. (2014). Disrupter, distractor, or what? A policymaker’s guide to Massive Open Online Classes (MOOCS). Bellwether Education Partners. Accessed on May 29, 2014 at http://bellwethereducation.org/policymakers_guide_to_moocs

Hill, P., and Roza, M. (2010). Curing Baumol’s disease: In search of productivity gains in K–12 schooling. Center on Reinventing Public Education. University of Washington Bothell. Seattle, WA. http://www.crpe.org/publications/curing-baumol’s-disease-search-productivity-gains-k–12-schooling

#MOOC Who are my students?

MOOC_WordBubble

To date over 200 students have signed up for our MOOC. The numbers are increasing at a rate of 10-20 students per day. This would give us an audience of 1,500 students by the time the course launches, however, additional promotion from the course instructors and the Canvas Network may increase course enrollment by thousands more. Who are these students? How should we prepare to teach them?

According to Swope (2013) MOOC student enrollment has risen from 1 million in 2012 to over 10 million in 2013, however, reports in the media have largely concentrated on MOOC completion rates, which have been as low as 5-10%. Do low completion rates signal a death knell for the MOOC as an educational innovation? Regardless, we intend to proceed and offer our class to thousands of teachers who want to improve teacher and student relationships. Toward that end, we will offer a review of modern learning and education psychology theories, then give teachers an opportunity to practice with three relationship-building curricula within a caring, online community.

Chernova (2013) reported on a Canvas Network study of MOOC students who were characterized as older students, with advanced degrees, participating because they are curious about the subject matter, and motivated by the courses’ being free of charge. This survey of 1,800 students defined highly-engaged students, as “those who completed several MOOCs”. Of these MOOCers, 55% had a master’s degree or higher. Age-wise, 74% of the highly engaged students were 24-53 years old. Also, 63% were female.

In the fall of 2013, UW‐Madison offered four MOOCs on Coursera. Huhn (2013) reported the average age of participants was 34 with twenty‐eight percent (28%) under age 26. Almost three-quarters (74%) of the participants had a bachelors degree or higher. Only 9% had a high school education or less. Approximately half were employed full time and sixteen percent were part-time workers. Thirteen percent (13%) were unemployed (not working but looking for work), 16% were not working by choice (retired, staying home with young children, on leave from work, or unemployed and not looking for work). Only one quarter (23%) were from the United States. An additional quarter were from Brazil, India, United Kingdom, Spain, or Canada. Overall, 19 different countries had 100 or more participants. There was at least one participant from each state. In the US, three states (California, New York, and Texas) each had 100 or more participants.

Jeffrey Pomerantz has blogged extensively about his Medadata students. In total, 27,623 students were active after week one. Of that number, 1,418 earned Certificates of Accomplishment. Incidentally, this is roughly the same number of students that he has taught over his entire career. Using those figures, Dr. Pomerantz would have the same 95% non-completion rates as most MOOCs, however, he proposes defining of the total number of students who completed the Unit 1 homework assignment (2,938) as “active students”, because they have demonstrated an intent to complete the course. Since
1,418 of these students completed the course; his MOOC completion rate should be calculated as 48%. Clearly new thinking is needed when it comes to evaluating the educational outcomes of MOOCs. I’m just excited to teach one.

Sources

Chernova, Y. (2013). Accessed on June 25, 2014 at http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2013/07/31/new-study-sheds-light-on-free-online-courses/

Huhn, C. (2013). UW‐Madison massive open online courses (MOOCs): Preliminary participant demographics. Academic Planning and Institutional Research, Office of the Provost, August 15, 2013. Accessed on June 27, 2014 at http://apir.wisc.edu/cssimages/UW-Madison_MOOC_Demographics_August_2013.pdf

Pomerantz, J. (2013). Data about the Medadata MOOC. Accessed on June 27, 2014 at http://jeffrey.pomerantz.name/2013/11/data-about-the-metadata-mooc-part-1/

Swope, J. (2013). Accessed on June 26, 2014 at http://moocnewsandreviews.com/what-do-we-know-about-mooc-students-so-far/#ixzz35miZGPoR

Video

Phoning Parents Part 2

Hello Everyone. I am, Dr. Scott Petri, your instructor for Improving Teacher and Student Relationships. Welcome to the second lecture on improving teacher and parent communication. Thank you to the great people at Match Education for this great book Phoning Parents by Michael Goldstein. It’s cheaper than a Venti at Starbucks. Go get it.

This video will explain the six types of phone calls the book advocates making. If you read the study by Matt Kraft on the website, you know making proactive calls to parents created stronger teacher-student relationships, improved parental involvement, and increased student motivation.

The book recommends making this systemic behavior, investing 30 minutes a day in making parent phone calls. These calls should be no longer than 5 minutes each, which means you can make 6 calls per day, 36 calls a week. If you have 180 students, it will take 5 weeks to call every parent.

The six reasons for making these phone calls are: Shows courtesy and respect to both student and parent; You know parent got the message because you hear them saying uh-huh and what? Phone call communication is 1 to 1; Provide parents with more detailed information about their child’s progress and behavior than progress reports or dailies; Teacher can provide specific advice to the parent; and Increases student interest and investment in learning.

The Praise Call
Teacher describes a positive choice or goal met by the child
Breaks the negative cycle for struggling students
Praise must be specific and detailed
Focus on effort, choices, and accomplishments

The Correction Call
Describes something the student needs to improve
Helps student and parent understand what improvement looks like
Discuss and decide next steps for beginning the process of improvement

The Check In Call
See how student is doing with classwork and homework
Speak to student before parent
You didn’t finish your work in class today, what was the problem?
Recap purpose of call with parent

Text Messaging
Can be praise or reminders
Don’t use texting for corrections or concerns – call instead
Be careful not to automate, or you risk losing the personal bond in the relationship
Services like Remind.com, or Remind 101 can help personalize batch messages.

Texting is the most popular form of communicating for teenagers. 87% of high school seniors text every day, whereas only 61% of them use Facebook daily. This may not be the medium of choice for parents, so ask what they prefer.

The Summit
An emergency in-person meeting with student and parent present
Create a plan to help student
Be warm, but unapologetic about your high expectations
Make parent your partner

I hope you will consider investing some time in making proactive phone calls to increase your students’ engagement this year. Be sure to check out the additional resources and supplementary videos I’ve put on the blog under the tag phoning parents.

Video

The Developmental Relationships Framework

My wonderful Principal, Suzanne Blake, was emphatic that I include the 40 Developmental Assets when I told her I would be teaching Improving Teacher and Student Relationships. She had many stories about opening up a brand new middle school that embraced this work. She raved about how easy it was to establish a school culture when all of the teachers were on the same page about the importance of increasing the assets of their students.  Since, then I have read much of the literature from the Search Institute and wholeheartedly agree that this framework deserves inclusion in this course.

The teacher-student connection does not merely contribute to or enhance teaching and learning; this relationship is the very medium through which successful teaching and learning is carried out (Reichert & Hawley, 2014).  More importantly, we believe that the characteristics described in successful teacher student relationships can be developed. Teachers who effectively establish positive relationships with their students are characterized by: reaching out, often beyond standard classroom protocols, to locate and meet particular student needs; locating and responding to students’ individual interests and talents; sharing common interests and talents; sharing common characteristics, such as ethnicity, faith, and learning approaches; being willing, when appropriate, to disclose personal experiences; being willing to accommodate a measure of opposition; and being willing to reveal some degree of personal vulnerability.

The goal of the course is to give teachers a caring and collaborative environment to practice new skills that they wish to incorporate in their class.  Toward that goal, how do we help teachers develop growth mindsets about improving their relationships with students? For more information and resources go to: www.search-institute.org.