To ensure that students are not left confused and student publications can write complete stories, a school environment depends on teachers and staff being willing to answer questions. Unfortunately, this availability has suffered, with emails and other forms of digital communication left unanswered. Teachers and staff must not neglect maintaining a line of communication so that students are not left unaware about important inquiries.
Transparency has suffered as a result of some teachers and staff being unresponsive to emails. Oftentimes, emails from The Matador requesting information have gone unanswered by administration, in turn leaving the school population in the dark. Lacking the opportunity for traditional in-person interviews, the importance of responding to these emails, as one of the only methods of communication, has been heightened. Details from such interviews are integral to a student publication’s efforts to provide the complete story to its readers. Impeding on these efforts only bars students from receiving an informed and balanced story and hinders The Matador’s vital role of informing and educating the community.
Digital communication is not only used by student publications, but also by students for assistance on assignments. After many repeated instances of being ignored through emails, students may be discouraged from trying to contact teachers and staff for help when student engagement is already suffering. Unanswered emails both hurt students seeking help beyond the class lesson and undermine the concept of “availability” and “support” many teachers endorse.
Understandably, circumstances give rise to inflexible schedules that do not allow time to respond to emails. But, as educators, it is the role of teachers and staff to respond to students’ questions and increase student engagement. Leaving attempted communication for help or information unanswered is a failure to fulfill this essential role. The centrality of this role to teachers’ and staff’s jobs requires schedules to be reorganized to leave time to help students.
To improve responsiveness to students, teachers and staff must adapt the mentality of being honest with their reply time. Instead of misleading students with phrases such as “contact me if you have any questions,” which suggests a student will get a quick response, a reasonable time frame should be given so students know what to expect. This way, teachers and staff can still be available without students feeling like they are being ignored while their question is in the process of being answered.