LSOA Teacher: It’s time we embrace ‘non-traditional’ learning

Originally published the Denton Record-Chronicle – April 29, 2021

COVID-19 is changing the way many of us view education. And it’s time we embrace a nontraditional approach that gives students the help they need to succeed. For many families, the answer to this comes in the form of online learning.

Thousands of students and families across Texas took online classes this past year due to the pandemic. While many are viewing this is a short-term solution, this doesn’t have to be the case. Our definition of the “new normal” can include online schools.

Adopting this requires pulling back the veil on the misconceptions many have of online learning. As families consider their plans for next year, here are three things to know about online schools.

Students have an opportunity to socialize

Even though students aren’t meeting face to face in an online classroom, they still have an opportunity to socialize with their classmates. This just requires shifting your thinking on how to approach socialization.

For example, virtual clubs provide an opportunity for students to connect with one another. At my school, Lone Star Online Academy (LSOA) in Roscoe, we offer 17 different clubs that students can join. This includes book clubs, baking and textile clubs and even a Rocket League team for students to bond over popular games.

Not only do clubs give students a chance to connect, but they also invite families to become more involved as well. At LSOA, teachers encourage parents to get involved with the clubs at least once to get a better understanding of what’s going on.

Relationships between teachers, students and families are key

Building relationships is pivotal in education, no matter the grade level. Not only is a teacher building into the life of a student, but they also should build into the lives of students’ families to get everyone engaged.

Fostering these connections provides educators with an opportunity to enter the world of students and families and understand the personalized needs they have. When you aren’t meeting face to face on a regular basis, this requires more effort. But when it is accomplished, the rewards go a long way.

At my school, inviting parents to be actively engaged in the clubs their students are involved in is just one way to foster relationships between teachers, parents and students. When you aren’t meeting face to face, building these connections are key for helping everyone. After all, everyone has the same goal of pushing students to succeed.

A rigorous education is delivered every day

A common misconception about online school is that students are sitting in front of a computer screen all day. That is just simply not true.

Many would be surprised to learn that students are spending most of their day doing offline activities, giving them some time away from the computer to focus on their lessons. But no matter whether they are working online or off, students are receiving a rigorous education every day.

All the teachers are working together to help students be the best that they can be. This dedicated level of support goes a long way in preparing students for whatever challenges come.

When schools and universities shut their physical doors due to the pandemic, I realized education would never be the same. While others viewed this as a hardship, I viewed it as an opportunity to shift the way we consider a classroom. I hope others adopt this view and keep an open mind toward the future, especially when it comes to education of our children.

For more information about Lone Star Online Academy, please visit lsoa.k12.com

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