Study leave can pose problems for students who want, or need, to keep in touch with their teachers. You simply cannot be available all the time and so you may hear colleagues say, for example,
‘Sonja Smith was looking for you this morning. We couldn’t find you and I didn’t have your timetable. She was keen to ask you something that had come up in her revision. I think she was quite worried
The current solution
You leave messages with reception about your availability. You try to call students back, but there are still those who go away disappointed, or who wait patiently until you are free. You are determined to find a better solution for next year. The technology will surely be able to help
The following year, you realised that if you put Office 365 to work, and did some forward planning, you might make study leave into a productive and enjoyable experience.
The secret, you realised, lies with Outlook Calendar, which you can share in whole or part with anyone you choose. So before study leave starts you said to your groups.
‘I’m going to share my calendar with you all, showing when I’m available – sometimes before school, sometimes after, some of my free periods, some of my PPA time, some lunchtimes. I know you’re on your phones all the time, so keep checking because some of the availability might change – things can come up as you know. So if you want to see me, book into my calendar with a brief message saying what it’s about. The rest of you keep an eye on all that, because you might find you want to come along to the same meeting. The key thing is – keep in touch. Keep checking the calendar.’
It worked well. The students appreciated being able to book specific slots. There were times when so many people joined a meeting booked by one person that it was almost like a lesson – except more relaxed.
The students did well in their exams. It would be too much to claim that they did better as a result of Office 365 and calendar sharing, but in some cases it wouldn’t be an unreasonable assumption. The whole exercise certainly did wonders for morale.