Jo Marie Bolick's picture

Teacher Perspective: Connecting with Students

I’ve always had a love for math and for children which led me to pursue a teaching career. After graduating from Washburn University, I taught in the traditional classroom setting for four years while working to obtain a Master’s degree in Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction. At that point in my career I began teaching math online at Insight School of Kansas to students in grades 6-12.

My goal as a teacher has always been to connect with students. Helping students find success where they have been unsuccessful is one of the most rewarding sides of teaching.

I’ve found that so often students are allowed to slip through the cracks in traditional learning environments simply because educators are unable to connect with them in ways that allow teachers to understand their student’s individual learning needs. In the online model, I can foster relationships with students and showcase their strengths, while working to develop their academic and social skills. I have often found that many students have limited success with socialization in the traditional brick-and-mortar school setting, yet thrive in an online environment that eases social pressures and allows them to develop these important skills at their own pace.

Since becoming a teacher at Insight School of Kansas, I have become more and more inspired to advocate for the online teacher profession and the innovative learning structure. It’s important for the public to hear teacher perspectives on how we are providing an education in ways that can make an impact, regardless of a student’s previous experience.

It’s frustrating to me at times to hear people discount online schooling when, in fact, online learning doesn’t mean easier or less rigorous - it’s the exact opposite!  Students benefit from a structure built for tailored learning and have the support personalized instruction from passionate educators wanting to put students first.

Ashley Collier's picture

Utah Virtual Academy Exceeds 3rd Grade Reading Goal

 

This week Utah Virtual Academy (UTVA) announced that it exceeded its third-grade reading goal for the 2014-15 school year. 

The Utah State Office of Education conducted an analysis of third grade reading competency data and concluded that UTVA achieved an 82.8 percent target -- outperforming its school-level target by over 18 percent.

In a letter to school the Utah State Office of Education stated, "Utah Virtual Academy has achieved their uniform growth goal target for the 2014-15 school year. Congratulations on making progress towards increasing the percentage of third grade students achieving competency in reading."

The goal is notable given the state had set a uniform growth target for UTVA at 64 percent for 2014-15. Additionally, research indicates that students who are unable to read by third grade are more likely to fall behind, rarely able to catch up, and are at higher risk of dropping out of school. In recent years many states have put emphasis on improving reading outcomes for young learners.

Stacey Hutchings, UTVA Head of School, said, "We are very proud of this accomplishment. Educators know that reading is the foundation of learning. Ensuring that third grade students are proficient in reading is critically important, and I'm so proud of our teachers, staff and committed parents who are working so hard towards this goal."

Jennifer Schultze's picture

Teacher Perspective: Back to School at Wyoming Virtual Academy

Today marks the first day of school for the 2015-2016 school year at Wyoming Virtual Academy (WYVA). WYVA is a program of the Niobrara County School District #1 and is open to students in grades K through 12. I have proudly been an online teacher for all of the six years that WYVA has been available in the state.

I come from a long line of teachers and know the effect that they have on young lives. My grandfather was a math teacher who was dedicated to struggling students. He took me under his wing and influenced my decision to become a teacher.

I am currently a music teacher at WYVA, and while it may seem challenging to teach the subject over the internet there are many fundamental similarities. As a teacher I see the same kids, same hearts, and same stories – the online setting doesn’t change those basic facts. I have become a stronger instructor and better at engaging students while teaching at WYVA because of the online environment, not despite it.

Many of the students I teach are struggling because of personal or home-life issues. Last year, there was a student that struggled to complete quizzes and I learned that the student had difficulty reading. We met regularly one-on-one and I soon discovered that the student was an auditory learner and had a great passion and aptitude for music. One of the elements I enjoy most about teaching online at WYVA is the ability to meet with students and provide individualized instruction.

Ashley Collier's picture

K12 Back to School Highlights: Louisiana, Arizona, and Georgia

Back to school season is upon us and many K12 families across the nation are logging in to start the school year at their online schools of choice.

Over the next few weeks we will spotlight schools that are gearing up for the start of school.

 

Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA) families went back to school on August 10th.  In its fifth year of operation, LAVCA currently serves students in grades K-12. By combining individualized online instruction, hands-on curriculum and the support of highly qualified and state-certified Louisiana teachers, LAVCA helps students discover their individual learning style.

LAVCA Head of School, Dr. Perry Daniels says, "The start of the school year is always an exciting time and we are looking forward to welcoming both our new and our returning families to school year 2015. Our administrative and teaching staff is committed to the success of every child in the program."

Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) is preparing for the start of school by continuing to work with families to provide a complete education that is tailored to individual needs so every student can succeed.

In May, AZVA was given a high "B" school grade under the Arizona accountability system after improving its marks in a number of areas and achieving a high persistence rate among charter schools and other online instructional programs.  The school, which serves a higher population of low-income students than the state average, has also been credited for reducing the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students.

K12 Inc.'s picture

Weekly Roundup: Back to school

Arkansas student attend school via virtual academy
KATV

Parents have choices regarding where their children go to school, but what about skipping school altogether and going the virtual route? It's now possible in Arkansas for a student to go from kindergarten through high school and never set foot in a traditional classroom. 

As of this year, the Arkansas Virtual Academy is allowing students to attend school via the web from kindergarten through 11th grade of high school. After the next school year, students will be able to complete 12th grade and graduate from high school, allowing future students to possibly never experience traditional classrooms.

Is virtual school a good match for your child?
Metroparent

Joshua McMurtry was a strong student, receiving high marks from his elementary school teachers. But the Milwaukee fourth-grader still didn't feel confident academically, expressing concern to his parents that he was uncertain about what he was getting out of school.

After researching various options and talking with family and friends, Joshua's mom, Cheryl, decided to enroll him in the Wisconsin Virtual Academy, a full-time, tuition-free online public charter school for grades K-12 open to students statewide.

"It was the best decision for him and for us. During his middle school years, we wanted to ensure that he was getting what he needed," said Cheryl McMurtry.

Arizona Virtual Academy Students Log On to Start School Year
Press Release

The Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) is ready for its first day of school.  After raising its overall school grade with the state, the online public charter school says it is eager build on its success.

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