When I first started teaching English right out of college, I was so motivated to change lives and had such a passion to help kids watch their improvement and feel good about themselves. All through college, I owned my own tutoring center and I taught on a one-to-one basis as a tutor helping those students who were in desperate need to bring their failing grades to a passing grade. It was such a joy to help them find their self-esteem and witness their growth in believing in themselves. And it was even more exciting to be able to share my skills with other college students who worked for me to teach the students. Watching those tutors grow and be inspired to learn how they can help discouraged students was such an amazing experience. It’s the absolute reason why teachers are so passionate about what they do. After college, my mistake was not to go on to get my teaching credentials and to immediately start working in the classroom of a private high school. I was so eager to share my experience and knowledge on a mass-level rather than one student at a time. I wasn’t ready to handle the 6 periods of 35 kids in each class.
Those same techniques that helped me teach one student at a time did not work in the classroom. My students that I taught in my tutoring center had my attention completely. I was able to give them immediate feedback on their errors, and bad habits within their work, and they were able to correct and change it. Their learning curve was so much faster. Running the tutoring center trained me how to detect students’ needs and to evaluate how they learn so I can adjust the way I taught. But on a mass-level with over a hundred kids, it was definitely overwhelming. I was able to pick out all their weaknesses instantly. I knew how to help them as individuals, and I practically killed myself almost creating individual remedies to help them bring up their 5th grade reading and writing level to Freshman and Sophomore level. Then I wised up, and grouped their weaknesses together, and the truly troublesome students, I came to school early and stayed after school tutoring them. In order for them to read and write well, they had to practice and practice and practice with constant feedback of what they were doing wrong and how they can fix it. I took so much time grading, they weren’t able to see their feedback for a week or two later because I was busy with lesson plans, entering grades, reading for the next day, or in meetings. I was proud to successfully bring them all up a few notches in their skills. And a few were able to move on to honors classes the next year. But it was a painful, tiresome first year teaching, and I was wishing I had gone on to finish school to get more training.
But looking hindsight at that first couple of years that I taught and thinking if I had the tools that I knew about now back then, my teaching days would have been easier. I figured out that immediate feedback is so crucial to the learning curve of kids. With the modern technology of today, communication is so much easier. It has come a long way from just phone calls and personal parent-teacher conferences. With cell phones, texting, and emails, students
and parents can easily keep in contact with teachers. And teachers today are provided with technology to assist them with time and classroom management. When I taught, it took me hours to grade 3 classes of essays, then a good 30 minutes to enter it in my gradebook by hand. Then I’d hand it back, they’d read it, and it would get stuffed in their backpack somewhere. Parents would call me surprised to receive a paper notice stating their child is in danger of failing. Then I would have to pull out my gradebook, calculate that particular students grade and write down all the missing assignments then send them another notice with everything. Then we would have to communicate practically every day by phone to re-assure the troublesome student kept on task at home and at school. It was so much effort to maintain that immediate feedback with both parents and students. How can the old school teachers remedy this time consuming process of monitoring students to keep them in line with their studies?
Online gradebooks are the main tools for teachers to make a direct connection with their students’ parents. eSembler was created a decade ago when the computer industry wanted to assist the educational system work more efficiently for their students. They started remedying the simple time-consuming task of entering grades and calculating final grades. Once they studied the needs of teachers, they began adding features that would help teachers make their classroom management easier. But the main key was to connect the teachers’ gradebook to the parents. And once that goal was attained, instant feedback to the parents was born. It cut the teachers’ time communicating with the parents’ almost completely. With emails and notifications, teachers were able to answer questions promptly during their pockets of down time. And there was improvement in the students’ progress. That immediate feedback to parents helped them to follow up with the student’s work at home. They were able to catch those falling grades and keep them from dropping further. And with it being an online gradebook, just like their paper gradebook, they’re able to look at their grades online wherever there is internet. Students themselves can read their grades online without having to stop the teacher after school to calculate for them. They can even catch when teachers’ miscalculate or enter grades incorrectly. The online grade book created a bridge between parents, students, and teachers.
It’s so important to give immediate feedback to students so they can correct and adjust their mistakes. Delaying that feedback can prolong their struggles with their studies which can affect their self-esteem and motivation. eSembler is an exceptional way to make sure you hit all areas of feedback for students. Use today’s technology that’s available and find ways to bridge the gap of communication between parents and teachers in order to help your students become more successful.