Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Presentation for High School Counselors, Sept. 14, 2010

High School Counselors are our first line of contact with our students. Barbra and I sit down tomorrow, the day after the posted deadline for application to take one of the 1000 available half-credit courses, to set up for enrollment. All MNPS Counselors met yesterday for a day of professional development at Martin Center and Kecia and I had the opportunity to speak to some of them in our breakout session "What Can Virtual Learning Do for Your Students?"

Friday, September 3, 2010

The First Week of Classes

Friday is a favorite day of mine. Happy Friday! My days are filled with small planning or student monitoring meetings punctuated by training sessions on various management platforms, presentations at larger meetings, and an hour or two here or there in my cozy corner cubicle working on an urgent need for the program. We presented yesterday for the Principals of the MNPS Antioch cluster, Kecia opening our session with an overview of Instructional Technology for the school system, Barbra stepping in to provide details on our Virtual Learning program--its inception, its plans for the future--and me in a support role, adding a little icing to Barbra's well-baked cake. I believe we were well received. No one in the room, and there were around 50 hard working high school Principals, could fail to see the benefits of offering quality online educational opportunities to the children of our school district.

That said, there are some things we need to change. Tennessee, as you may or may not know, is bordered by more states than any other state in the union. Each one of the seven states surrounding Tennessee has a Virtual School. We do not. It is, in fact, against state law for there to be a "virtual school." Huh?

Until we can get that law changed we are a "Virtual Learning Program." And we cannot reclaim homeschooled students, or those who have chosen private schooling, into the public school system by providing them online learning opportunities because of a law that states a child cannot access online learning programs if they have not been enrolled in a public school the previous year. Huh?

My Friday half-day (I work longer days early in the week to allow myself household responsibility afternoons on Fridays) will be mostly consumed by training in A+ Learning, a system MNPS has in place in schools to provide a credit recovery means to students who have taken a class and failed it. This is elearning, but it is not virtual learning, mind you, but even though the distinction is clear to me it does provide an  opportunity to students that would otherwise not exist, and I'm happy to make it part of my focus for that reason. I'm diving in, with Barbra, to know it inside and out in order to help bring more fidelity to its implementation throughout the school system. We'll do that, hopefully, with teacher training and by building some community amongst the teacher facilitators at each school. Stay tuned on that!

On with Friday!