With the New Year approaching and a new semester starting soon, now may be a great time for parents to take a step back and consider the many school options available for their child.
This is my twelfth year as an educator at Ohio Connections Academy (OCA), a K-12 public online school. I love working in an alternative education setting, but even after over a decade of serving students, I still find there is often confusion about online school and what we do at OCA.
Whether online school is on your list, or you’re just curious about this education option, here are some of the questions I often answer about our online school.
How does an online school hold students accountable?
Ohio Connections Academy uses rigorous curriculum based on Ohio’s Learning Standards. We are a public school that follows the same rules and procedures as traditional schools. We are also required to meet the same state testing requirements as traditional schools. In the fall and spring, our teachers travel to testing sites around Ohio to complete face-to-face state testing with students. Our highly-qualified teachers also regularly interact with students over the phone, through our internal email, and through our online LiveLesson classroom. Teachers use LiveLessons to verify learning and provide personalized feedback. Our school is very flexible, and students can complete lessons at any point during the day. However, just like in a traditional school, students are required to complete a certain amount of work each week and demonstrate their understanding of material.
How can my students socialize in an online school?
Our students are social butterflies! Although our classrooms are not traditional, there are still many opportunities for students to make connections with their peers. Students work with one another in LiveLessons, receiving direct instruction from their teachers and engaging in class discussions. Our students can also participate in online clubs and activities including Quiz Bowl, Robotics, and Chess Clubs. In addition to online activities, Ohio Connections Academy offers field trips around the state. In the past we have visited zoos, museums, sporting events, and state parks. During these in-person activities, our families get to meet each other and the OCA staff.
Will my students have a rapport with their teachers?
As a teacher in this setting, I feel so fortunate to have worked with so many wonderful students. I am often asked, “When is the parent-teacher conference?” by parents. My response is, “Anytime you would like one!” Throughout the school day, teachers hold scheduled class LiveLessons to review lessons. For the rest of the day, we are working with students and families in a one-on-one phone call and/or tutoring session. During these interactions, we get to know our families on a personal level and engage the whole family in the learning process. In fact, I am still in contact with many previous students, including two former students who are now teaching at OCA!
What type of student typically attends an online school?
There really isn’t a typical student at OCA. There are students from rural, urban, and suburban areas of Ohio. We have students that are in extracurricular activities that require a flexible schedule, students that were previously home-schooled, students that require special support, and students that are advanced in their studies. Our school is designed for self-motivated students that would benefit from a more individualized approach to education.
There are many reasons to consider online school and it might not be right for every student, just as a traditional setting is not for every student. I’m grateful for my time with my online school, and I’m looking forward to another great year of learning in 2019.