In a recent intake meeting for families enrolling in our virtual learning environment, a parent made one of those statements that sticks in the brain. She was recounting advice from another BCVS mom; “it’s a slow start, but it eventually picks up.” At the time, I nodded my head in agreement and described the multi-stepped process of requesting online classes and having those classes open for the students. Walking away from that meeting in the sweltering August heat, the phrase kept echoing – it’s a slow start.
Virtual school is a slow start. Getting the right classes for the right student, then the student completing the orientation lessons, and finally classes open. It can take a few days. In the rush of the start of a school year, that can feel like an eternity! So yes, it can be a slow start that way.
But maybe it needs to be a slow start in a lot of ways. Students have to adjust to so many things in a virtual environment. In a classroom, where to sit and do work is not a huge unknown. In an at-home environment, students workspaces have to be dedicated and equipped. In a classroom, teachers often serve up classwork like lunchroom trays of food. In an at-home environment, classwork has to be actively retrieved. In a school building, class periods are set by bell schedules. At home, students can decide what to work on, when to work on it, how long to stay on one subject, and when a school day begins and ends.
The slowness of a virtual school start might allow students the space to make these necessary decisions: when, where, and how to approach their education. Once these decisions are set, routines can be established and students can begin the journey toward a successful virtual education.