How Should I Prepare My Child for Virtual Schooling?
By Jennifer K. Hale
“Supporting virtual teachers is just as important as supporting traditional classroom teachers and making the connection with the virtual teacher will be key to your student’s success.”
Making the swap from brick-and-mortar schooling to a virtual setting might be a challenge for some families. In fact, it may seem daunting. But with a few simple tips and reminders, families can make virtual schooling feel as normal and natural to the family lifestyle as traditional school ever was.
There is one crucial factor that makes a student successful in the virtual setting—an involved parent or learning coach. After years as an educator, the last seven of those at a virtual school, I know for certain that the students who adapt to virtual schooling, achieve high grades and test scores, and make advancements in their education are those who have a support system at home to help them and encourage them. This is true of a traditional brick-and-mortar school setting as well, but it is especially vital in the virtual setting. Because the teachers, faculty, and administration have physical barriers in the virtual setting, it is imperative that the student have someone in the home environment who can serve as their support system, advocate, and daily encouragement.
Not only is this support system key for the student, it helps the teachers as well. Supporting virtual teachers is just as important as supporting traditional classroom teachers and making the connection with the virtual teacher will be key to your student’s success.
One of the main things you can do as the new school year begins is remember to treat the virtual teacher with the same respect that you would a traditional classroom teacher. These are professionals, trained and certified in the exact same way as traditional classroom teachers. Most, if not all, have been traditional classroom teachers at some point in their careers. In fact, in many school districts, the virtual teachers will actually be the classroom teachers who are now moving to virtual platforms due to the pandemic. Be respectful of their knowledge, passion, and drive to see your student succeed.
So what else can you, as a parent and learning coach, do to support your student’s virtual teachers?
- Read all emails and communications. Pay attention to details, updates, deadlines, expectations, and requirements.
- Set calendar reminders for yourself to help remind your student about important deadlines, etc.
- Communicate with the teachers frequently. Don’t be afraid to send an email or pick up the phone to ask clarifying questions.
- Learn the virtual platforms. This may seem overwhelming but learning at least enough to check your student’s gradebook and communicate with the teacher will go a long way. Parent training on this should be provided by your school district.
- Check regularly to make sure your student is logging in and completing work on time.
- Check your student’s gradebook weekly, at minimum.
- Attend any online open houses, orientations, and/or parent conferences. Take the opportunity to get to know your student’s teacher.
- If you want to show appreciation like you occasionally would in the traditional classroom, send the teacher a kind email, voice message, or even a gift card via email.
The greatest thing you can do to support the virtual teacher is show patience. Parents feel uncertainty right now and have many questions. Teachers have these same feelings and questions. Some teachers face the same issues that you do—how to work while their own children are home and educating virtually, how to balance the work/family dynamic, and how to live day to day in a nation swirling with insecurity. Showing patience as we move forward together sets a wonderful example of resilience and bravery for our students.
Teachers who are passionate about their profession will meet the challenges of educating virtually in a pandemic with courage and ingenuity. They will create engaging, exciting lessons for your student and will do everything in their power to form relationships with your child, exactly as they would in a traditional classroom.
Take the time to reach out with any questions and concerns, but your encouragement is also appreciated. Let your student’s teacher know how much you appreciate their hard work and preparation for a challenging school year that will certainly turn out to be historic. Make a commitment now with your student and the teacher to work together to make the virtual education experience exciting, engaging, and an integral part of your child’s development.
Virtual education was once a wonderful option for families, but in this pandemic has become a requirement for many who weren’t expecting it. We’re all learning together and a positive attitude will go farther than anything else. We teachers encourage you to take advantage of this time in our history to make memories with your child so that one day they will look back on this time not remembering what they “missed” by not being in a traditional classroom, but what they gained by having the opportunity to learn virtually. Certainly history will reflect that the option of virtual schooling provided a nation of students the education they needed in a time when caution was most important.
Jennifer K. Hale is an Assistant Principal at Georgia Cyber Academy High School. She is passionate about student success through high quality teaching and best practices. Originally a history teacher, she is also passionate about helping students to become active, knowledgeable citizens of our nation.
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