Virtual School, Real Success: Part One
In a definition search of the word “virtual,” multiple synonyms and meanings appear. Words such as “almost” and “nearly” are the first, which make clear why some may have misconceptions of being a full-time student of virtual school. While most people know that virtual school most directly means school that happens online, how many understand the day-to-day realities of virtual students?
Much of the available information on virtual schools almost or entirely omits the incredible work of successful virtual school students, particularly in Florida. Perhaps this is the reason that some may say “virtual school” is “almost” school. However, other meanings of the word virtual much more closely fit the work of Florida Virtual School: effective, practical, essential. With this understanding in mind, this three-part blog series will illuminate real-life virtual school with evidence from FLVS Full Time students.
FLVS Full Time is unique because of the flexibility and personalization it affords. Students have made clear in recent surveys that they primarily enroll due to the following reasons: they can access courses any time, day, or place; they can learn in a safer environment free of bullying and with fewer negative social issues; and they can learn with fewer distractions.
In the coming section and posts, we will share more about FLVS Full Time students’ insights and experiences.
Social Opportunities and Parental Involvement
In addition to the benefits above, FLVS Full Time offers 12 clubs in grades K-5 and 40 clubs across grades 6-12, with frequent online and face-to-face meetings. FLVS Full Time clubs offer places for introverts and extroverts alike.
The Virtual Voice provides opportunities for students to share ideas and blog about issues that mean the most to them. News in a Click, the FLVS student newspaper, offers even more opportunities for students to showcase writing about important topics. Virge, our online literary magazine, provides a space for student literature and art creativity to bloom. From Math Club to International Club, Spanish Club to Cheerleading and Teen Driving Clubs (and everything in between), FLVS Full Time students have multiple opportunities to take part in exciting activities that interest them. See www.flvs.net/clubs for details!
FLVS Full Time also has a Family Engagement Specialist that focuses specifically on ways students and families can become involved in school. This specialist leads student and family orientations, oversees and organizes monthly face-to-face events and quarterly virtual coffee chats, and plans the yearly schoolwide field trip that provides parents and students from across the state a chance to come together. The Family Engagement Specialist also gathers input from families through the School Advisory Council and communicates our School Improvement Plan. For the 2018-19 school year, the FLVS Full Time middle school alone offered six face-to-face events, 18 virtual events, and five newsletters to families. FLVS Full Time provides many ways for students and families to come together as a school community.
In our next post, we will explore student academic success in the virtual setting.
Post by April Fleetwood, FLVS Research and Evaluation Administrator