Virtual Office Hours for Students

When you teach students in junior high or high school, you often have to assign work to be done outside school. Unfortunately, more often than not, the work has gotten to a level with which the students’ parents are no longer comfortable in offering help. If this is the case, your students will more than likely have many questions for you outside school hours. To avoid answering all the questions during class time, and therefore having to extend deadlines for assignments, you can set up virtual office hours for students when you are available to answer questions.

What are Virtual Office Hours?

When you go to college, professors have office hours that are times that they are available in their offices to answer student questions. You can usually stop by or email them during this time and they are able to answer your questions and address your concerns. They do this because university students only spend three to four hours in class each week, and do most of their work outside class. If you teach younger students, however, you see them every day and you often teach longer hours than professors do. Students also have to take busses home or have other obligations outside their full-time school day. In order to answer their questions, you have to get a little creative. This is where virtual office hours come in. If you and your students have access to the internet, you can tell them you will be available during certain hours of the evening. During that time, they can contact you virtually and expect a quick response.

Email

Email is one of the most obvious ways to allow your students to contact you, and it has many benefits. First, there is a written record of your contact with your students, which is very helpful if there is ever a question about your professionalism. Second, you are able to respond whenever you can, which means you don’t have to sit in front of your computer waiting for emails. However, email is sometimes slower than some other forms of communication, and if you do not set times during which you will respond via email, you can find yourself responding to students during all hours of the night. Furthermore, you may find yourself stuck to your computer if you do not have your professional email setup on your smartphone, or if you do not have a smartphone at all.

Chat

Chat programs are wonderful, and they provide all the same benefits as email in keeping a written record of conversations. If your students have Gmail or Live.com accounts, they have a built-in chat program that signs on as soon as they start their email. All you need is an account on the same server as theirs and they can add you to their chat contacts, which allows them to see when you are online and chat with you. There are also several chat programs that allow you to use many accounts all at once, such as Nimbuzz or IM+. These programs are also available for most smartphones, so you can be on the go and answer questions at the same time.

Google Voice

If your students do not have access to the internet, it may be worth looking into having a Google Voice account. Google Voice gives you a phone number that is not your true number. Therefore, when you give it to students, they are not calling your personal phone. Students can text it or call it, and you can get messages either at your computer or your cell phone. This is a great way to help students when they need it.

Reasons Why Homeschooling is Bad

Homeschooling refers to the concept of educating children at home instead of sending them to public or private schools. The concept is not new. Earlier, most children were educated at home because not everyone could afford to send their children to schools. Nowadays, homeschooling has become popular in many countries for various reasons.

Reasons for Homeschooling
One of the prime reasons why some prefer homeschooling is the questionable quality of education in public schools. Also, many prefer educating their children at home due to the costs involved in traditional schooling. Some parents believe that they know their child’s strengths and weaknesses best and hence, are in a better position to teach him. Some prefer it so as to keep their child away from bad company. There are people who opt to educate their children at home because they want them to absorb the morals and values of their family, and follow their religious beliefs. Some parents think that homeschooling helps build stronger family bonds.

It has been observed that homeschooling, when undertaken meticulously has benefited many. However, every coin has two sides and even homeschooling has its share of demerits. Let us look at its negative impact on parents and students.

Parents

Absence of Certified Educational Professionals
A parent may have good educational qualifications, but that does not make him or her a good teacher. Teaching is an art, which requires the ability to understand children’s needs. Parents may find it difficult to adjust to the curriculum. Unlike professional teachers, parents may not be trained to teach, thus making homeschooling difficult for them.

Special Needs May Not be Met
Some children require special learning aids and tutors, and cannot be home-schooled. Lack of proper guidance might impact their education. Similarly, certain subjects require different methods of teaching or certain specialized teaching aids. Homeschooling may not be able to meet these needs of education.

Homeschool Burnout
Many parents may eventually become tired and stressed due to teaching for long hours at a stretch. Parents having to manage work and household responsibilities while also devoting time to the education of their children, may have to follow a very hectic schedule. This may take a toll on their health or hamper their efficiency as teachers. This may lead to a homeschool burnout and cause the parents to temporarily lose interest in teaching.

Shifting Priorities
Parents have to sacrifice a lot in terms of other priorities. Home-schooling children is a full-time job and may not be suitable for parents who want to concentrate on their careers. On choosing to teach children at home, career aspirations of parents might have to take a backseat. It takes a lot of time and dedication from the parents’ side to make homeschooling successful.

High Costs
Though homeschooling may cost less than $1000 per year for parents, inevitable expenses like textbooks, basic stationery, a computer, Internet, educational software, seating arrangement, field and educational trips, audio-visual aids, hobby classes, sports classes, library, legal fees, memberships and newsletters of support groups may also have to be added to the budget. In many states, homeschooling does not receive any kind of financial aid other than making the cost of school supplies tax-deductible.

Social Pressure
Parents who home-school their children may have to face social pressure from proponents of traditional education.
This might lead the parents of homeschoolers to feel discouraged and diffident about their decision. They are oftentimes ridiculed by others for their decision and deemed incapable of educating their children at home. They have to face social flak for preferring homeschooling.

Children

Isolation
Children who are home-schooled may feel lonely, friendless and isolated, especially so if they don’t have siblings. Friendships in school help them learn the importance of sharing and being there for one another. Often, homeschoolers become increasingly dependent on their parents. Being schooled at home, they are isolated from the exposure traditional education gives.

Hindered Development
One of the most critical impacts of homeschooling on children is limited social interaction. In a traditional school, students are exposed to children coming from diverse cultural backgrounds. Homeschooling lacks this aspect, and hence may prove to be detrimental to the development of children’s interpersonal skills. Schools give children, the opportunity to participate in debates, sports and other competitions. They expose children to the real world. In homeschooling, school remains confined to the home, thus limiting the social, emotional and psychological development of children.

Assessment Pressure
Homeschoolers have to take an annual assessment test before proceeding to the next level. In traditional schools, children are given periodic tests, which prepare them for the next level. This may not be the case with homeschooling, thus leading to tremendous mental pressure on children when appearing for the annual assessment exams.

Lack of Competition
Schools prepare children to face the fierce competition that one is exposed to, in real life. However, homeschooling does not give them a chance to compete with other kids. They are also unaware of where they stand among their peers. The competitive spirit that is developed in traditional schooling is more or less absent in a homeschooling environment. This may affect the future lives and careers of children.

Though homeschooling has its benefits, it does not match up to the positive influence of schools on the overall development of children.

Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities

I totally agreed with Scott Hamilton when he said that the only disability in life is a wrong attitude. I strongly believe that disability is not a curse or punishment from God for some wrongdoings. No, I feel these people can live a normal life just like any normal person. In fact, people with disabilities are more determined to overcome this barrier and do not want to gain sympathy from people. I remember watching a video clip of a differently abled person who didn’t have hands but was writing with the pen held in his mouth. These people really inspire us to work harder and convert the weaknesses into strengths.

While choosing a college there are certain points which a differently abled person should evaluate before applying to the desired college.

Easily accessible campus and 24×7 buses available with special needs.
Offices having full-time staff for answering the queries of differently abled persons.
Help available in form of attendants or nurses for people with severe disabilities.
Course curriculum and extra tutoring for those who lag behind in class.
Extra curricular activities designed for people with disabilities and coaching for these people who are capable of entering into paralympic Olympics.

After considering these factors the next step is choosing from the list of best colleges which have great programs for differently abled persons.

University of Arizona,Tucson

The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center popularly known as SALT has been the oldest in rendering best programs for people suffering from ADHD and other learning disabilities. This institute offers world-class workshops with well equipped computer labs. The tutors in this program are well experienced and many hold doctorates in their respective fields. The tutors are CRLA (college reading and learning association) certified and render expert services in Maths, Science and other courses. The fee structure for undergraduate lower division and upper division varies from $1000 to $2500 per semester. The tutoring fees is extra $20-25 per hour.

Wayne State University, Detroit

This University located at Detroit offers best facilities in off campus programs, pre – enrollment counseling, ASL interpretors and volunteer note takers. The average tuition fee for undergraduate lower and upper division ranges from $450 to $6000. Known programs like business administration and fine arts are rendered through the campus. The institute also offers excellent placement opportunities and has efficient staff in tutoring and career counseling.

University of Connecticut, Storrs

One of the top ranked public university this institute offers world-class program B.O.L.D (Building Opportunities for students with Learning Disabilities). This program is specifically designed for psychiatric, ADHD and LD disabled students. Through this program students are encouraged to improve their skills in order to gain employment. The average tuition fees for first semester is $1600 and for rest of semesters it is around $1100. The tutoring fees are extra $45 to $51 for a course. The college also provides SEAD program specially designed for autistic students. Through this program the student is encouraged to make transition to college level courses and instill positive attitude among students to achieve their goals.

Curry College, Massachusetts

Located in Milton, a 135 acre campus which is seven miles from Boston offers a suburban setting. The course is designed for students suffering from learning disabilities. The tutors prepare students to participate in group level discussions and provides $10,000 worth of scholarship to a high school senior student who has been successful in overcoming the disability barrier. The average tuition fees for first year per semester is approximately $3300. The curriculum includes using strategies to develop the thinking, reading, writing and listening abilities in students.

Augsburg College, Minneapolis

The CLASS (Center for learning and adaptive student services) provides normal classes and also helps the students by assisting them with scanned exams,extended time exams and recorded textbooks. Assistive technology caters to the students’ needs and the tutors encourage students to excel in their field with working on the underlying weaknesses. The tuition fees are nominal and students are accepted with a grade point average of 2.6. The institute has full-time staff assisting students with disabilities to learn. Individual tutoring is being promoted by the CLASS program.

University of Iowa, Iowa City

This university offers two year program for students suffering from multiple cognitive disabilities. The program termed as REACH (realizing educational and career hopes) helps students to be independent and educate them to fulfill their future dreams. It has community based internships, accessible campus and prepare students for employment. The average tuition fees for one year is approximately $14,100 and need based scholarships are available to the students.

Florida State University, Tallahassee

The Student Disability Resource Center has programs designed for ADHD students. It also helps these students’ transition to college level courses and provides services such as extra exam time, specially designed Math and Reading programs.

Beacon College, Florida

The courses are specially offered for learning disabilities, gifted LD and ADHD students. The average tuition fee for a year is around $14,500 and it also offers full student support in form of extra curricular activities. It also has Travel Abroad Program where students can experience rich cultural diversity.

Landmark College, Vermont

Located in Putney this college is voted the best in offering programs catering to students with learning disabilities. The courses are language intensive and focused on developing intellectual abilities in students. The attractive point about this college is it considers students as partners in learning and strives to achieve excellence through technology based curriculum. The average tuition fees is around $48,000 for the academic year and financial aid is available for need-based students. The college also offers a full-time disability resource office with best career counseling activities.

Northeastern University, Marino Center

This University has been voted as having the best learning disability programs. The college has intensive programs in reading and writing specifically catering to attention deficit disorder. The average costs range from $1200 to $2600 per semester for the program. The USP of this college is individual attention by experienced tutors.

Most of these colleges prepare students to live independently and instill workplace skills. Many colleges also offer many services like mentoring, providing transportation services within campus and providing tutoring services. These institutes with help of the families of students encourage them to be self motivated to achieve their career goals. Disability has not and will never be a hindrance, this motto is what these best institutes endorse.