At a faculty meeting on October 19th, rules for student-teacher communication were revised and clarified. Texting between students and teachers is now reserved for urgent matters.
Dean of Faculty John Taylor said, “We value face-to-face meetings, which is the sort of ideal setting you want to encourage faculty and students to meet face-to-face.”
At School Meeting on November 3rd, Assistant Head of School for Student Life Amie Creagh refuted rumors about a new rule that fully prohibited students from texting teachers. She provided examples of situations where it was appropriate to send a quick text due to time constraints such as if you’re running late for a sit down meal or a game.
Although this revision may provide the impression that a new rule has been created, Mr. Taylor said, “It’s not new; in fact, we’ve been doing trainings at the beginning of the school year with all the new faculty and faculty over the years, and with new faculty, we always go over certain case scenarios. Maybe the fact that we announced it in a faculty meeting made some people think that it was a new thing but it has been ongoing.”
However, some students feel that Deerfield’s teacher-student texting policy limits their ability to form a relationship with and connection to their teachers, especially with advisors, who are meant to be trusted adults on campus.
Although emails provide a form of communication, it is always not the quickest and most efficient. Students who have neither a class nor a co-curricular with their advisor can find it difficult to arrange times for meetings and casual one-on-one conversations.
Koai Solano Ortiz ’24 said, “I don’t have classes with my advisor, and the only time I see him is at Thursday’s advisory lunch. I can only see him for 20 minutes which [are] divided between two tables’ worth of other advisees.”
Many advisories meet only once a week during advisory sit-down lunches. Advisory sit-down is seen as that space to reconnect and check-in at a close, family-style dinner. But some large advisories are put in the Parker Room for advisory lunches, a space that “is always loud and very busy,” according to Solano Ortiz.
Mr. Taylor emphasized that there is no hard line regarding when to text or when not to. Instead, teachers and students must make appropriate judgments case-by-case. Many faculty members like Classics Teacher Daniel Houston still allow advisees to “text or call in an emergency or non-emergency, if you need [him] for something time-sensitive.”
Students text their teachers to varying extents, but the general idea behind the rule is to think about what students should text and what they should email with regards to the degree of urgency. Mr. Taylor said, “We just want to make sure that text is used in a really wise and healthy way.”