Dan Love is the Director of Teaching & Learning at AISC. This article first appeared on May 21, 2020, in The Raptor Way Blog
Although said in many different ways, the goal of 21st century schooling is the creation of knowledgeable, adaptable people who can work with others to innovate. Never is that more true than in our virtual environment. With our 25-year history of parents trusting their children to us, we at AISC, continuing to inspire a love of learning, in a virtual realm as we prepare students to thrive in an uncertain, global future.
As AISC wraps up 10 weeks of virtual learning and continues to deliver a balance of self-paced learning and real-time connection, I have reflected on how these six attributes articulated below can serve as valuable assets to our virtual learning experience.
The opportunity virtual learning has provided in school is the place and space to allow us to reimagine learning. Teachers are designing new lessons and students are finding new ways to demonstrate their learning. Both teachers and students are growing in their learning in this sustained virtual environment.
Through an intentional use of electronic calendars of events, planners, and daily office hours, students have received the structure that is necessary for teachers and students to work together. There is flexibility in the pace of completing assignments, yet there is also intentionality for students to follow the day-to-day schedule toward success.
Through great structure there is freedom. By making expectations known, students are able to be more agile in how they use their time. As Global Online Academy (GOA) reminds us, Students can find a balance between asynchronous learning (which allows students to self-pace their work) and synchronous learning (which fosters connection).
Creating and maintaining strong online learning communities allows our community of learners to foster connections and relationships. We continue traditions like school assemblies, advisory, celebrations of learning, art shows. We also keep students connected with support services of EAL teachers, learning support services, and school counselors. Maybe, more importantly, starting with building relationships and maintaining them in a virtual environment is so important. People need to stay connected. Connection is part of AISC culture!
Whether it is a Zoom classroom or a brick-and-mortar classroom, virtual learning is an authentic, daily use of technology. To some teachers and students, this might be a place of comfort and familiarity. To others, the complete technology terrain might seem like they need a map. In either case, the daily use of technology prepares all of us for the future we face together.
Maybe the biggest “new normal” is that a student’s homeroom could be a room in their home. The classroom has come to almost every room in the house. Parents are also able to see the lessons of the day alongside their students. We need to optimize the interactions between students and teachers, and this may require parents as partners in lessons.
For the past 25 years, parents have trusted us with the education of their children, which has not changed with virtual learning. Our virtual learning environment allows us to continue to foster a love of learning for our students. Our intentional focus to know our students, provide for what they need educationally, and to care for their wellbeing does not change because of the place where students connect with AISC teachers.