Five Surprising Things About Teaching with FLVS
Like many teachers who explore the virtual school option, I was attracted to the flexibility of online work. Not having to be in my classroom at 7:45 each morning? Win! Not having to wear professional shoes? Double win! There were lots of things to look forward to, but I was nervous too. Would the online experience feel cold and impersonal? Would I actually teach, and would students learn? Would online teaching challenge me professionally? I decided to make the leap, and I am SO happy that I did! I’ve learned that my fears were completely unfounded, and I’ve discovered lots of things along the way that have pleasantly surprised me about teaching and learning with FLVS.
Here are my top five biggest “ah-ha” moments:
We are in the relationship business. It is not just something my boss gives lip service to at schoolhouse meetings; relationship building is an expectation here. At FLVS, employees are committed to fostering positive relationships with our students, their families, and one another. This means that we intentionally strive for a culture of honesty, transparency, and respect.
The bar is set high. At FLVS, we offer well-designed, rigorous coursework to ensure that students are prepared for college or careers. We base advancement on demonstrated competency. Instructors provide personalized feedback on each submission to encourage growth, and students are encouraged to revise and resubmit assignments until they achieve mastery.
The only label welcome here is “rock star!” With FLVS, students and teachers are seen as individuals. Yes, many of our students experience medical issues, learning differences, family struggles, and behavioral challenges, but they are not known by those things. We respect that each student travels his or her own journey, and we believe that with the right coaching, ALL students can succeed.
Virtual education develops some serious grit in both the teacher and the learner! What is grit, you ask? Think: determination, tenacity, stick-to-it-ness. Grit is what helps a student push through to finish a difficult assignment, reach for the phone to ask for help, or revise work multiple times for a higher score. It is also what helps me push through to clear out that inbox each day, reach for the phone to make and return calls, and value the relationship first in all of my interactions – even the tough ones.
Online teaching is a lifestyle. Most surprisingly, my transition to FLVS has felt less like starting a new job and more like moving to a new culture. I’ve had to become fluent in many “languages” I only dabbled in before: time-management, self-regulation, focused attention, and positive communication. But I’m finding that these changes have spilled over to other areas of my life, and are having an all-around positive effect. I’m growing as a person, not just a professional.
If you are a classroom teacher who has been considering a career with FLVS, I would highly encourage you to give it a try.
Keep an open mind, and be willing to be a learner again. I will admit that the transition hasn’t always been comfortable, but know that the best growth can only happen outside of your comfort zone. Rally the support of friends and family to help you through the first several months. It is tremendously comforting to know that your loved ones welcome the change and are along for the ride – even when that means feeling the bumps in the road.