Practices for Success

Preparation | Teaching | Support | Curriculum | Summary

Provide quality teaching

In this section, we explore qualities of effective online teaching and its inherent challenges, as experienced by our team of online educators and expert users.

To meet individual student needs, online instruction is differentiated similar to the regular classroom. The content is often not modified, but student work can be excused, reset, or supplemented in accordance with the online provider’s policies. In many cases, curriculum is changed only to meet Special Education needs. Primarily, students interact with the online teacher and not with their peers; a practice many educators would challenge, emphasizing the importance of student collaboration.

Effective online teachers

  • Establish strong relationships with students and parents from a distance.
  • Are tech savvy, content experts who are experienced and passionate about online learning.
  • Provide timely, frequent and positive feedback.
  • Individualize the experience.
  • Focus on student progress with flexibility and persistence.
  • Build a collaborative community.
  • Keep an eye on the details; organization is vital in an online format.
  • Possess bilingual skills. (Desireable)

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Lessons Learned

  • A proper placement makes a big difference in the effectiveness of the teaching. Screening and advising are very important!

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Teaching Challenges and Strategies

Each listed challenge includes a brief statement on how it is dealt with in general.

  • Online learning is not a good match. Solve the problem before it begins with improved screening and advising.
  • The student is not engaged. Partner with the local mentor to determine how to work with and encourage the student.
  • The student is taking too many online courses at once. Solve the problem before it begins with improved screening and advising.
  • Technology limitations are undermining my instruction. Providers communicate technology requirements with students and local support. Providers and teachers develop courses using social media in the way kids use it to communicate.
  • Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) rules and documentation are overwhelming and time consuming. Teachers and local support work on better understanding of the requirements, create processes to stay organized, and work with OSPI to refine the rules when the opportunities arise.
  • My online caseload is too high. Keep student/teacher ratio on par with regular classroom. Fight the administrative stereotype that “online” teaching differs from the demands of in-person instruction.
  • Different schools have distinct program requirements and expectations. Providers and teachers work to understand the needs of each school.
  • Rolling enrollments are hard to manage and organize. Advisors communicate requirements, timelines, and expectations to students and families.
  • Complex content material can be even more complex in a digital format. Provide synchronous sessions, good resources, and in some cases, physical materials.

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Innovative Approaches to Online Teaching

  • Use technology and social media to reach out to kids in the way they communicate and use it to connect with them when they are online.
  • Use online meeting technology to get students working more collaboratively.
  • Add “flipped” instruction where students study material or recorded sessions and then participate in online discussions together.
  • Add more competency-based instruction and assessment opportunities.
  • Follow a student through a progression of courses. This was referred to as “looping” where a teacher instructs the same students through a succession of courses or the same person is available as an advisor or support person throughout the student’s online experience.

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Resources for quality teaching

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