Communicate: Identify Stakeholders Quest

posted May 18, 2016, 11:07 AM by Emily Kroutil   [ updated May 19, 2016, 8:02 AM ]
In education, there are a variety of stakeholders.  We have the following groups that need to stay connected to the classroom:
  • Administration
    • Honestly, before I started this course, I didn't think there would be much in the way of administrators for online courses.  I knew someone would have to assign me students and someone would have to pay me and someone would have to keep track of students, but I never really thought about how that all worked.  Now, I realizes that they are crucial to an orderly online educational experience.  Someone has to bring everyone together and view the bigger picture of what is going on in the online school.  Since teachers may often feel like an island when teaching virtual school or the students may feel like islands, the administrators are the ones that have the big picture in mind and can make sure everyone is fulfilling the school's vision and mission.
    • It is important as the instructor of the course to keep your administrators in the loop with what is going on in your classroom.  It is important that they understand how your classroom functions.  It is up to the teacher to be the advocate to the administration for their methods.  For example, I have educated the administrators on how my flipped classroom works.  That way, when/if they are contacted by parents, they can further explain the benefits of my classroom.  Often, when a parent contacts an administrator, they've completely bypassed me for whatever reason, so they haven't had the benefit of having me explain why I do the things I do.
  • Instructors
    • For some reason, I usually don't think of teachers as stakeholders.  I guess this is because I kind of view my class as a web and find myself at the center and students are parents are on this web that I've created and administrators are above, looking down at all of the webs that all of the teachers have created.  Hoevever, we as teachers, are crucial stakeholders.  A good teacher will be invested in their students' outcome and will want their students to learn and succeed.  Sometimes I tell my students, "I had a dream about you doing well (or not) in this class.  Why does it feel as though I care more about your learning than you do?"  If I didn't care and didn't have a stake in their learning, I doubt I would have dreams about my students' success or think about how I could help them better when I'm at home.
    • I have to constantly think about my communication with students and parents.  Should I have an individual lesson with Jim to help him learn the concepts he's been struggling with or will that embarrass him and maybe I should quietly provide him with extra resources?  Is Susan's parent in the loop with her progress?  Should I contact her just in case?  Is it time to send out a mass email to parents to keep them in the loop?  Have I updated the gradebook today?  How are their grades looking?  Should I make a note to remind them about due dates (answer: always yes)?
    • I won't even get into how teachers have a stake in students' evaluation because of their evaluations.  That's another beast for another day....
  • Students
    • They should be the greatest stakeholders because it is THEIR education and THEIR future.  Kids, however, are kids and they sometimes do not realize how important an education is or how far-reaching the decisions they make in high school can be.  Sometimes, it can take some convincing to help them realize that they are their greatest advocate and need to take charge of their own education - whether that means they need to study on their own time or take the initiative to come to (or tune in to ) a study session.  They will need these skills in college when their parents are no longer allowed the same access to their educational experience and cannot advocate for them.
    • Students should constantly be communicating with their teacher, especially in a virtual environment.  They should email whenever they have a question, send a chat message if possible, and participate fully in synchronous learning experiences.  Students should also communicate with parents about their progress and what they are learning in class.
  • Parents
    • Parents want their children to succeed (most of the time).  Parents are key players in their children's education.  It is important that they supervise the student while working at home, ask questions about the lessons, and maintain an active involvement in their child's classes.  Even if the parent is not comfortable with technology or the subject, they should ask their child to help them navigate the LMS and try to at least know what topic the student is studying, even if they don't know much about the topic themselves (Here's an idea, have your child teach you the material....).  Parents can also be a student's greatest advocate or biggest hurdle.  It is important that parents remember that the most important task in education is students learning the content and becoming good people.  Grades are secondary to that.  While most parents want their children to make good grades, good grades without learning signify nothing.  They need to support the teacher and their child in helping them learn and become good people.  Some parents get so wrapped up in their child's numerical grade, that they lose sight of the fact that education is about learning, not about grades.  Grades are simply, hopefully, a reflection of their child's learning.  With that being said, no one will advocate for your child like you.  No one knows your child like you.  If there is something about your child that you think it is important for the teacher to know, PLEASE let them know.  If you think something isn't right in your child's class, PLEASE ask the teacher. They can usually explain their rationale or what is going on.  They often have a different perspective on the situation than their child and can offer this up.  Hopefully, the parent and teacher can work together to create a plan that will help the child be successful.
    • Parents should CONSTANTLY be checking in with their student about how their classes are going.  Parents often have access to online courses as auditors and should take advantage of this to stay involved in their child's life and education.  Parents should check their child's grade regularly.  Remember that teachers have lots of students and cannot be expected (and legally cannot...FERPA...) email the parent the student's grade at every turn.  Parents should communicate with their child's teacher if they have ANY questions about their child's progress.  At my school, the parents are very involved.  Some teachers have said that they don't want to teach at my school because they have to "deal with the parents."  I tell them that having involved parents makes my job so much easier because there is someone else that cares about the child's education and success.
If I had to add an additional stakeholder, I might add the community.  For Georgia's virtual school, the community is the entire state.  The residents of the state of Georgia should care about how our schools are doing.  They should care about the success of online, as well as, brick and mortar schools.  These provide a metric to see how well our state's children are doing and how well our schools are doing.  We are often compared with other states and countries and the residents of Georgia should want to be proud of our schools.  To that end, we, as educators and those intimately associated with our state's educational system, should timely, clearly, and effectively communicate how well (or poorly) our schools are doing to the community.
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