Online Teaching Policies for Samantha Matalone Cook
Refunds and Withdrawals
Families will receive a full refund if they withdraw before the class begins. Families who withdraw after the class begins will receive a prorated refund based on the time remaining in the class. (For classes purchased on or after 10/5/2020: Refunds made more than 30 days from purchase date will be docked a 10% administrative processing fee.)
If the withdrawal is for schedule conflicts or a learner struggling with class content (that is either too easy or too hard), I am happy to work with families to try to find solutions.
I try my very best to avoid class cancellations. I often teach classes even if the minimum number of enrollees has not been met. However, I do reserve the right to cancel a class if the minimum enrollment is not met. I will do so 48 hours before class begins and issue full refunds.
In the event of an emergency that requires me to cancel an individual session, I will work with individual learners to find a sufficient make-up strategy. This may include a recorded session or a rescheduled session.
In the rare event of an emergency that requires me to cancel a substantial portion of the class, I will either find a substitute or issue prorated refunds for the class. If I must find a substitute, families will have the option to receive a prorated refund instead of continuing the class.
I recognize that students have different comfort levels and experience with participating in online class environments. Students are welcome to participate in the way that works best for them. While I prefer students to appear on camera and participate via microphone in live classes, I am also okay with students who do not want to appear on camera and use only the microphone or chat box.
My classes tend to be fairly involved, so there are often assignments between live meetings for live classes and throughout any other format. Assignments may include reading, writing, research, hands-on projects, and more. I highly encourage students to complete all homework assignments on time as I have designed them to scaffold future work.
If students cannot complete homework, they are welcome to reach out to me for guidance or a possible extension on the due date.
If families choose not to do some or all assignments, learners may stay in the class. However, I will only issue letters and certificates of completion to students who have met the assignment threshold as explained in that particular class.
Students and their families may choose to get a letter grade from me upon request. Grades (optional) and certificates of completion are based on the completion of assignments and projects, participation in class discussions, and meeting the criteria of the specific rubric for that class.
Basically, I welcome families to do what works best for them, but I believe learners will get the best experience if they complete the work assigned.
Generally speaking, I try to work with students to make the class work as well as possible. If there is a good reason that a learner needs an extension on a due date, please reach out to me. Work that is turned in late may be late receiving feedback. There will be a point for every class (typically two weeks after its end date) where I can no longer accept assignments.
It is important to me that all students have a safe and enjoyable classroom experience, so I have some behavioral guidelines to reach that goal. My general behavioral guidelines are as follows (and will also be announced directly to students in an age-appropriate way):
- Mute microphones if there is excessive background noise
- If we are in a large class, you may have to use the “raise hand” feature before speaking
- No mean-spirited comments in discussion boards (disagreements should be handled respectfully)
- Students must wear clothing when on camera
- No flooding the chat with off-topic content
- No name calling, bullying, or unwanted private messaging
- No sharing contact information with other students without parent permission
- No disruptive behavior that distracts other learners (such as constantly changing background screen, changing screen name to something silly, making faces at the camera, etc.)
- I expect students to communicate with me on any issues they are experiencing so we can work on a solution together.
Response to Behavioral Concerns
My top priority is that all learners get the best experience they can out of the class. This means that my response to behavioral concerns is to address the individual problem with the least amount of disruption to the student concerned as possible. In general, I try to mitigate a specific behavior rather than remove a student from the classroom or limit their participation.
Here are some examples of ways that I may address behavioral issues in order from least to most invasive:
- Disable particular functions of the online classroom (for example, turn off private chat, manually mute microphones, turn off a video feed)
- Privately reach out to students to ask them to stop the behavior during class
- Reach out to students and their families to brainstorm a solution to a behavioral issue outside of class
- Require a parent/guardian to be present during live sessions in the event of repeat behavioral violations
- Remove a student from live sessions but allow them to continue in the rest of the course and send recordings
- Remove a student from the class
In the very rare event that a student is removed from a class for behavioral concerns, a prorated refund will be given.
My policies also extend to the way I treat learners in the classroom. I believe that respect and connection are the foundations of positive educational experiences, so I have the following policies in place to help ensure that my respect for learners is centered in my interactions.
- I will call learners by their preferred name and use their preferred pronouns.
- I will announce methods to get my attention in the case that a learner is having trouble being heard in class. These can include using the “raise hand” button, sending me a private message, or creating alternative ways for a learner to participate that works best for them.
- I will do my best to accommodate requests for alterations that help make materials accessible.
- I will be available for questions outside of class and answer those questions in a timely manner (generally within 24 hours).
- I will give feedback in a constructive way that respects the efforts learners have made.
- I will be understanding of learner differences and individual personalities and be as flexible as possible as I strike a balance between keeping the class productive for everyone and allowing room for everyone’s individual needs.
- I will model kindness, curiosity, and a passion for the subject(s) we are exploring.
- I will mentor the learners in my class towards achieving their own goals and finding their own voice on the subject(s) we are exploring.