For some, virtual school this past spring was a disaster but for others, it was life-changing! What are the secrets to success? Well, they aren’t secrets and we want everyone to hear! Dr. Chris Brownell & Sophia Stier come from teacher and parent backgrounds with virtual schooling success. Their message is that a virtual platform could help bring about the changes our school system has desperately needed for years.

Watch our session here:

Families Choose Virtual Learning

The Pandemic has made some choose virtual learning over face-to-face instruction, but pre-Covid, families were already choosing this platform. One reason that Sophia mentioned was her boys wanted to be challenged more. They asked their parents if they could learn online and then researched it themselves. One problem they encountered in traditional schooling was the one-size-fits-all delivery based on compliance and control.  They wanted MORE and took it upon themselves to get it. And so their journey began.  It was successful, it stretched them, and Sophia’s sons are ready for the next thing as her oldest just graduated from college and her youngest just graduated from high school! Their virtual schooling along with supportive family and educators helped them develop their independence and dream big, and it can be this way for so many more. 

Benefits of Virtual Schooling

Variety of classes from foreign languages to amazing PE experiences like Scuba Diving

Flexibility! Classes can happen anywhere as long as  you have a computer! 

Teachers are able to adjust to student needs because that is the center of it.

More time for students to explore and go deeper into instruction.

Supportive Community formed.

How Can Parents Help?

Keep Learning Time Sacred: Develop a routine that works and use that time for learning. Don’t sabotage it with appointments or playdates.

Check in with your kids. Don’t assume they are working or finishing assignments or don’t need help. They still need their parents to help them regulate time. 

Understand that the positive changes happen over time with routine and discipline. It’s not about the short-term as it’s about the big picture. 

Create clear communication with children and teachers. 

Expect your children to finish what they start. 

Explain PURPOSE and expectations of school.

How Can Teachers Help?

Avoid compliance issues such as uniforms and keeping cameras on. 

Find ways to form relationships and keep your students engaged while keeping dignity intact. 

Give more time. Allow a pace that works for students.

Check in with your students to see how learning is going. 

Create clear communication with students and parents. 

Assume students want MORE and provide challenges. 

Help time management in creating breaks to move/eat/use restroom.

Infuse creativity! 

No Need to Fear Virtual Schooling

As Dr. Chris Brownell explains in our session, virtual schooling is here to stay. As more families are exposed to it, many will embrace the opportunities it provides, like authentic learning everywhere they go. The pandemic has pushed us to change in a way that we’ve needed to for years. He says that embracing this as an opportunity helps tackle the fear of virtual school.  Virtual school also gets us past “arbitrary” content that isn’t necessary as it was 100 years ago. 

The best thing is we don’t have to have all the answers. Saying I don’t know does not mean giving up.  Taking longer is okay. Going after what you need is necessary and helps students understand true to life problem solving.  

As I rewatched this, it makes me reflect even more about how deep relationships with families and schools truly creates powerful learning connections, and this definitely can happen virtually. The hope we have for our students and the kind of productive beings we want them to become can definitely take place through online experiences. 

So whether you are new to this type of learning, or it’s old hat at this time, a virtual platform is here to stay.  You might even enjoy it more as an educator.  However, there is one thing that stays the same, as parents and educators, we still need to work together for the success of our students. 

About the Author

Melody McAllister is a wife, mother of five, educator, and author. She and her family relocated to Alaska from the Dallas area in 2019.  McAllister is 2017 Garland NAACP Educator of the Year and author of the I’m Sorry Story, a children’s book about taking responsibility for mistakes and making sincere apologies.  She is also the Logistics Manager for EduMatch Publishing.  McAllister has spoken at ISTE and ASTE about equity issues in education, and writes about her journey in her blog, HeGaveMeAMelody.com.   

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