“How does that work?” This question is one many parents ask when I tell them that I am a virtual teacher in a public charter school. Virtual schools are becoming quite common in collegiate environments around our nation, but how could that be for elementary school?
It’s quite amazing and extremely effective. Students enrolled in the virtual school are schooled at home. Each student works through a customized (individualized) curriculum that meets the student exactly where he or she is academically.
The complete curriculum and all needed materials are shipped to the student and presented in the student’s Online School (OLS). The parent, who is at home with the student is designated as the learning coach (LC), and is the one who works with the student day-to-day to ensure that lessons are completed and generally keeps the student on track.
As an elementary homeroom teacher, I interact with both the student and the learning coach daily. Students access their lessons from their individualized learning plan, and the LC attends to support certain activities, such as making sure the student has the materials needed to complete assignments, enters attendance, and submits graded assignments.
Virtual teachers also meet with their students in an online platform for live, synchronous instruction during the school day. This is a wonderful opportunity to really get to know each individual student, as well as to interact with the LC to ensure the student is successfully mastering the lessons for the day.
My favorite aspect of teaching in a virtual world is that students can excel at their own pace. The virtual school works for a variety of learning styles and individual needs, but one thing is constant: the focus is on individualized learning, no matter the age or grade.