I have always wanted to be a teacher. I remember lining up all my dolls in the evenings and teaching them whatever I learned in elementary school that day.
But I could never have imagined then exactly how I’d be teaching: I connect from my farmhouse and teach students across Kansas online.
Every school day, we demonstrate together how we can leverage technology to enhance learning for all types of students, including those who have not succeeded at brick-and-mortar schools.
Because of this, I’ll be observing National School Choice Week with the rest of my school community Jan. 22 – 28. This week shines a light on the huge variety of education options that work best for children – options we are fortunate to have in Kansas.
While in high school, I served as an officer of the Future Educators of America and I decided I specifically wanted to teach science at the middle school and high school levels.
Looking back now, I see that I was already starting to develop my own teaching philosophy: I’m a firm believer that every child can and wants to learn, but that it’s up to me – and other educators – to find the ways to best teach them.
Fast forward a few years, and I now have a master’s degree in teaching with an emphasis on environmental conservation and teach at Insight School of Kansas, an online, public school for Kansas students.
Over my seven years teaching online, I’ve found innovative ways to connect with my students, including live classroom sessions. Using my webcam, I conduct just as many demonstrations in my virtual classroom as I did in a traditional setting – but now I do them from my kitchen counter instead of a school laboratory.
I utilize technology for virtual labs as well. My middle school students each receive their own school science kit, and as a class we can look at different things under microscopes, measure density of different objects, grow bacteria, and test acids and bases.
Many students need this online school environment to make sure they can learn in the ways that are right for them.
Since moving to Insight School of Kansas, I have had several students in my online classroom who were not on a traditional school schedule. Many of these students had a different, rare, or unusual diagnosis, but the one thing they had in common was that they had an odd sleep schedule that would not allow them to attend school during normal hours.
Online school allows them to log in to class at any time – not just from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. – so they can keep up with their schoolwork instead of always falling behind.
I’ve also had students that have suffered from bullying at traditional schools and who have found supportive communities in our online classrooms.
Advanced learners also find the flexibility of the online curriculum allows them to achieve their true potential.
My passion for learning started with my own education and turned me into a lifelong learner. I want to continue to show students, families, and even school choice skeptics how we are not just teaching students, but uniquely reigniting passions for learning that they may have forgotten that they had.