By: Maya Pratt-Bauman
Although trying, d.tech is yet to find the perfect way of communicating with the entire d.tech community.
With constantly shifting schedules, new community meeting formats, adjusted shuttle departures, and new campus rules, d.tech students are expected to quickly adapt. However, it’s difficult when expectations are unclear. This lack of communication regarding what is expected is a major point of stress for both students and the rest of the d.tech community.
When asked if they felt the lack of communication at d.tech was making school harder, students’ responses were leaning towards “yes”. Sophomore Claire Little says there is a lot of “unnecessary confusion,” and that “Even the staff seems to not know what’s going on.” Spanish teacher Carolina Moroder used the words “broken communication between staff, students, and faculty,” to describe the current situation. She stressed that the staff is trying, but it could definitely be improved. Mary-Anne Lee, a first-year parent at d.tech, said “I do think they provide a good amount of information, but it is hard for me to find it.” She mentioned that the only communication parents seem to receive is through email, and that there isn’t one place that has all the information.
According to the d.tech community, communication is really important and is definitely seen as a critical aspect to successfully running a school. Junior Andrew Osgood said, “I think that communication at school is really important because in order for our community to work properly there has to be communication from both sides.” He also said student involvement needs to increase in order to improve communication and make student voices heard. Little also explained why she thinks communication is important, and said “I don’t want to miss important things because I didn’t hear about it.” Knowing what is expected of students will create a less stressful and chaotic experience for the entire community.
Even though communication regarding expectations seems to be a high priority for the d.tech community, there have been many instances where students have felt lost or confused. For example, Little was given unclear instructions on where to put her bike. “For the longest time I didn’t know where to put them, there was no map, eventually I figured it out,” she said. She later explained how her bike was stolen due to the lack of communication: “I biked to school and locked [the bike] on the bike rack on the far side of the parking lot. I never really heard much of where they were supposed to go, I heard there was a bike garage but I didn’t know where it was. If there had been more clear instructions on where to park your bikes, or knowing that the [outside racks] were not safe, it might not have been stolen.” Others mentioned that changes in the schedule that were not made clear made it hard to get to class on time. Students also stated that some of their courses were difficult to follow due to a lack of communication between teachers and their students. Osgood shared that sometimes in his classes, “I feel like my teacher wants us to do something and everybody in the class doesn’t know how to do that.”
But how to solve the problem? Well first we have to look at what is already in place. In order to have a better understanding of what forms of communication the school is using I talked to Julie Abraham who produces the d.tech download. She said that, “The primary and most effective form of communication with students is the students announcement page.” Abraham described the announcements page as “a rolling Google document that students are encouraged to check daily.” It is up to the students to check the page, it is up to them to take initiative. She went on to say that they use email blast for more specific events — for example, the senior dinner that happened earlier this year.
Another form of communication she mentioned was the d.tech Download itself, which only comes out once a week. She described it as “monolithic”, meaning it is just a block of information that people might not have the time to read and then it just becomes old news. She said that the Download has definitely evolved since it was first implemented. She stated: “It was initially created by parents to fill a need.” Since then, there has been much debate over its length and purpose, but mainly it is meant to give parents information about what their students are doing at school. Abraham stressed, “It is meant for parents.”
Another key way that staff and teachers communicate with students is through the @dtech sides. The @dtech slides include all necessary information for that day, and if students are on time to class, they should be getting that information. Abraham said, “The slides cover the most vital information relating to the students day. However in terms of enrichment, and opportunities in the student community, the student announcements page is extremely effective.”
It seems that if all these methods are being used that students should feel there’s clear communication between them and faculty. So why do people feel left in the dark? Being a d.tech student I understand confusion. Though it’s possible that the problem could be students simply not knowing what method of communication they’re supposed to be accessing. For example, I thought the d.tech Download was meant for students and parents. I had no idea that its main audience was parents.
What also may be the source of the problem is student and parent initiative. Being a student this is hard to admit, but if d.tech is providing information and we are just not paying attention, that could be the reason we are confused. In order for communication to really work everyone needs to take initiative. We need to come together as a community and make sure everyone is on the same page. That is when we can be the most creative and productive.