KS Teachers: Lora Johnson (left), Ashley Fryer (right)
I think I am a good teacher, but I know that there is always room for improvement no matter how much experience you have. One way that we can build our skills is by talking and networking with others in our profession. Recently, I collaborated with a teacher I really admire. She’s one of the few who has been at our school since it opened-and we are lucky to have her! Teachers know they can always go to her for honest, helpful advice. Students love her live classes and she has great attendance and participation. I have personally witnessed many high school students seek her out at face to face events.
Lora Johnson is a HS teacher and has taught 9-12 grade classes ranging from Pre-Algebra up to Calculus. This is her ninth year teaching on-line. For the 2016-2017 school year, Lora will be teaching Developmental Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus.
I asked her why she transitioned to a virtual school from her traditional school. What I expected to hear was that she wanted to work from home or needed a little more flexibility. However, she said, “I came to online teaching knowing that there was a sufficient need to help students that are not engaging in a regular B&M (brick and mortar) school. Those kids that do not and can’t succeed in the traditional setting of school needed someone to teach them math and I thought I could help.” And, trust me, she has.
I asked Lora to tell me about her typical high school math class. “A typical online class starts off by me greeting EVERY single student that enters my online classroom by name. I do a lot of guided practice where I show them how to do the problem, then help them with another problem and they finish that off by completing a problem on their own. Graded assignments are inside their OHS that they will complete following the lesson over the material.” I told you she was a great teacher!
When Lora first started her two biggest concerns were: mastering the technology and keeping a close relationship with virtual students. She said, “I remember my very first online live class, I was shaking so badly that my husband was very concerned. I had to keep reminding myself to calm down. I really thought that I would fail.” Obviously she didn’t.
Even though I knew she was forming great relationships and making a huge impact on our high school kids, I asked Lora about her second concern regarding relationships with students. Lora said she has a great relationship with her virtual students and in some cases closer student-teacher relationships than she did in a traditional setting.
Lora feels that the biggest advantage to online teaching is the lack of discipline issues that continue to plague our fellow B&M teachers. Her favorite thing about teaching at ISKS is the teacher relationships. She added, “We may be many miles apart but if anyone needs help all they have to do is reach out to any faculty member and help is provided.” I too agree that the teachers at Insight School of Kansas (ISKS)/ Kansas Virtual Academy (KSVA) are team players and make our school a great place to work.
While there are naturally some differences between Lora’s high school math classes and my middle school science classes, our end goal is the same: we want every student to learn! We both strive to create an accessible, engaging, and educational classroom experience for our students. Lora is already doing a great job at this, but like any good teacher, she will also continue to develop her skills. I enjoyed talking with Lora because she possesses all of the characteristics of a successful teacher and it is obvious she embodies the core values all teachers need to help students maximize their learning potential.