Our curriculum and instruction team is the exemplar for online school models. We have a chief learning officer, six instructional directors, a curriculum director, two curriculum coordinators, and two instructional designers. We employ 700+ teachers, and within those ranks, we have instructional leaders and course leads. This structure leads to a highly functioning and responsive curriculum and instruction team that is focused exclusively on teaching and learning.
We get to know our students so that we can always do what’s best for them and not what’s easiest for us. We know that all students do not learn at the same pace or by the same method. We differentiate our instruction and allow for additional time for students to truly master their work, and advanced learners can work more quickly through modules.
The power of a teacher can never be replaced no matter what the delivery of instruction is. As an online school, we naturally rely heavily on technology, but there is no app for good teaching.
Stakeholders need to know what learning is happening with their students at any point in time. We communicate regularly with stakeholders at the school and district level and with the parents of our students. This is our maxim: it’s all about the relationship.
4 Instructional Pillars:
Pillar 1 – Grading and Feedback
Teachers grade each student’s assignments with positive, specific, and directive feedback which offers the student enrichment (if mastery is reached), a real-world connection, and support for any gaps in learning. One way to show students how much they are valued is in the type of feedback that teachers give them. Our feedback that we give students on each assignment really separates us even further from other online courses.
Pillar 2 – Teaching Through Daily Learning Block or Announcements
This is where our teachers are the most dynamic. Each day our teachers strategically use learning-block announcements that are crafted to meet the needs of their students on that specific day. We are not a software program that is a “canned” product. Our teachers use the daily learning block to celebrate student performance, review prior learning, highlight content, post to-do lists, and provide tutorials, videos, learning games, and other resources that meet the needs of their students on that day.
Pillar 3 – Communication
Our teachers use every interaction with both students and stakeholders to build relationships. This is where we first begin to separate ourselves from other online courses. We want our students to understand that we are invested in them, and that will directly impact student achievement. Our teachers document all of their communications with each student and that student’s stakeholders in a communications journal.
Individualized/Personalized Learning for All Students
Our teachers incorporate individualized learning through deeper enrichment and support for each student. This is built into the three pillars.