Being accessible beyond the classroom builds connections

Veterans come from an environment in which clear, precise communication and trust is vital for success, and even survival. Being present during office hours, being approachable before or after class, and responding to emails or phone calls in a timely manner allow students who may not feel comfortable asking questions or talking in class with a means to be heard. Being approachable beyond the classroom can make the difference in students returning to your class or dropping out

Consider adding statements in your syllabus regarding respect for diversity, accommodations, and an open door policy for office hours that will provide you with an appropriate and confidential setting to discuss and understand each student’s learning needs and background.

Points to Consider

  • As mentioned in “a classroom can feel like chaos”, for some people with hearing loss having to communicate in distraction filled setting can deter them for asking for further clarification of points they did not follow in class.
    • Service members are used to fully understanding the points or tasks at hand, therefore they may desire to seek out further clarification. 
    • If they have hearing loss and use lip-reading, being able to receive clarification in a one-on-one setting or via email may be easier for them to follow than spoken clarification. 
  • Asking for clarification while it is important can feel like weakness or create feelings of stupidity, some student veterans may not want to appear that way to their peers, therefore using office hours or email may allow them to stay engaged and further their understanding of material.
  • The military is adamant about timeliness and attendance, if you are making appointments with student veterans or say you will respond to them by a certain time, know that missing that appointment or not notifying them of your inability to make the appointment or not responding when you say you will can damage the level of trust the student veteran has for you and your class.
    • This can affect their level of engagement with you and the course material.
    • Communication and relatability or trust are key components to a services member’s success, and they often times

Online Considerations

  • Establish office hours that are consistent so that student veterans know when they can reach you via email, phone, or video conference
  • Set a timeframe of when you will be checking your emails so students know when they can expect a response
    • For example: Emails will be checked between 8:00-6:00pm Monday-Friday and 9:00-11:00a on Saturdays, please allow 1 business day for responses, no email communication on Sunday
  • Keeping yourself sane is important, especially with COVID-19
    • With today’s technology and the expectation of “constant and immediate communication” it is imperative to create healthy boundaries with virtual communication to reduce burnout