Day three of the EARCOS Leadership Conference* and it’s time for some reflection on what I’ve seen, heard and learned.
We all know how difficult it is to have the ‘homework conversation’ with your kids - let’s face it, it never goes well.
Many parents feel it’s their responsibility to ensure their kids complete their homework and this often ends in arguments and tension within the family. While kids cannot be forced to study or learn, there are things parents can do to help them to motivate themselves.
I just finished reading Educating Gen Wi-Fi, Greg Whitby's new book, and thought I'd share some thoughts.
The subtitle of the book is: "How to make schools relevant for 21st-century learners," and I should have paid more attention to it than to the word "Wi-fi" and the giant photo of the teenaged boy staring at his mobile phone on the cover. If I had, I'd have realised sooner than page 115 (about half-way through the book) that Whitby isn't really interested in technology per-se at all. In fact, what he's trying to figure out is how to make schools work better for kids in the year 2013. And, as it turns out, he has some interesting ideas about what needs to change.
Along with teachers and long-term tutors, we have professors and doctors of various disciplines, research scientists and lab assistants, medical professionals and engineers - the list goes on.
It's fantastic to see such a diverse range of people showing an interest in, and aptitude for, online education in Australia.
Recently I've noticed a trend where students who have used yourtutor join Tutoring Australasia on the "other side of the fence" and provide assistance to those still working through their high school career.
This former student turned tutor, said:
“In hindsight the one-to-one help really made a difference to me during school. It was a bit later after my degree that I came back to yourtutor, on the other side of the conversation, and it was a bit like hearing myself, with the same questions. And that’s what I want - it would be great if I could help a student like I was helped.”
It's heartening that these former students place such value and importance in the yourtutor service, and had such a good experience, that they then contribute their skills and knowledge to ensure that younger students across Australia continue to receive quality one-to-one online tutoring.
With more and more students using yourtutor, I can only see applications skyrocketing in just a few years!
In an effort to help staff cope with the enormous marking load, the executive of our school made the decision that all students would have access to yourtutor three years ago. After the initial presentations to staff and students, I saw considerable merit in the service, but believed it offered little to the English Staff. Nevertheless, we were prepared to embrace the concept and I encouraged all staff to tell their students to use the service. Some did, some didn't!
What has surprised me is the number of King's boys who have chosen to use the service. Each enquiry represents one less enquiry to an English Staff member. We set a variety of tasks for years 7-10 students, from writing a short story, to an assignment on Macbeth to comparing and contrasting two novels that deal with the human condition or growing up in a different part of the world, to an unseen essay task on poetry or set novel or play.
yourtutor offers an independent voice, not a voice that will rewrite the assignment, story or essay, but a critical voice that can assist the students to improve their work. There is no doubt that those students who use the service regularly have benefited. Just receiving feedback that makes them think about their writing is a huge advantage.
yourtutor has been able to cope with our peak demands. The student comments, an excellent feature, really allows for proper monitoring. I suggest, if your school is prepared to offer yourtutor, you give it a go. Just remember, for it to be effective, you as teachers, have to tell your students they should use the service.