Choosing an online charter school is a unique decision for families. Seeing as we both have teaching experience, we truly understand the difficulty families face in selecting the right learning environment for their child. They may be the only family on their block or within their community to choose this option for their child—and that can feel very isolating. But, on the other hand, they have joined a community of families who have also chosen this unique learning option.
Where we come in is to help connect families with their local school communities, other Learning Coaches, and resources to help jumpstart their education journey.
And that starts from the moment a student's enrollment is approved.
A Strong Welcome
Students and their families at K12-powered schools receive online login credentials to access their online school as well orientation materials as part of our Strong Start commitment. These welcome packages feature welcome letters, family learning resources, and even a car magnet to signify their membership in a new education community.
Along with the welcome package, students receive another package containing their offline learning materials. Although learning primarily takes place online, students also receive offline materials to supplement their online lessons, especially for younger kiddos. These materials vary by course and grade, and include not only textbooks but can also include such things as rocks and clay for younger students.
For the students, enthusiasm and excitement can be big indicators of readiness. That's why the initial welcome materials sent to families aim to connect students with their personal "why." Beyond the traditional "Where do you want to be when you grow up?" question, K12-powered schools want to get students thinking about what sparks their curiosity, what excites them, and how can they cultivate that excitement for the school year.
Meanwhile, and still before students gain access to their courses and work, they take an Online Learning Course. By the end of this orientation, students will have a solid understanding of how to engage with course materials. By the end of the course, students will be prepared to begin their lessons in the online school.
At this point, or at any point throughout the year, if schools determine their students are not successful or actively engaging, the Family Academic Support Team (FAST) comes in. Like academic advisors, they work closely with teachers to identify issues a student may be experiencing—whether that's academic, behavioral, or extenuating circumstances—and provide teachers and families with the right resources or contacts to get their student back on track.
Schools also look at multiple data points on a week-to-week basis to help determine how a student is performing. K12-powered schools have a school tracker that incorporates data from multiple areas to give them a comprehensive review of each student. It includes readiness and state assessment data to initially identify where students are and allows schools to measure student growth. Throughout the year, course progress, assignments, and tests continue to populate this tracker, allowing teachers and support staff to address student setbacks or accelerate learning for a fast learner. Whether that's adjusting coursework to the pace of a student's learning or connecting with guidance counselors, teachers and the FAST team quickly put in place interventions to ensure students are on a path to success.
In addition to their teacher, every student has a Learning Coach—typically their parent or guardian—who helps the student stay on track with school work. In addition to monitoring the student's engagement, schools also reach out to Learning Coaches throughout the year to assess preparation, ability to keep up with coursework, and overall satisfaction. The results identify families who may need additional support and informs the development of relevant programing and resources for students, parents, and school staff.
In addition to the at-home materials, K12-powered schools host sessions to nurture their students. Those begin at Walk to Class sessions designed to familiarize students and Learning Coaches with the platform and to cultivate support immersive networks. To help get students acclimated to the online environment, students and Learning Coaches have separate sessions for students and then Learning Coaches.
For Learning Coaches who attend these sessions, the overwhelming reaction is: "I've found my people." By working with seasoned Learning Coaches, they learn they're not alone in their education journey; other Learning Coaches have similar questions and face similar struggles. After having the chance to engage with a community of Learning Coaches, they realize they have an incredible source of support and advice that will be there for them no matter the need or challenge.
And it's not all orientation and schoolwork. In the summer, K12 hosts online, interactive summer camps. This past summer, camps included Science of Habitats Camp, Art Camp, Music Camp, and DIY Makers Camp. These camps help students stay connected and engaged over the summer as well as provide new students with online classroom experience to help them transition and learn key technical skills.
Today's education environment is continually changing and evolving, and today's students are more technically skilled and savvy than ever before. At K12, we are ever mindful of changing student skills and experiences, and it inspires how we develop our courses.
With technology, we have the opportunity to quickly adapt learning and support models. Beyond state assessments and core curriculum, career readiness is of growing importance. We can provide K12-powered schools the ability to add a hyper-focus on instruction for other success indicators such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship-building, and decision-making, among others.
The most exciting part of all of this? Being able to do right by students by identifying the best ways to support them for their success.
KEYWORDS: Innovation, Personalized Learning, Student Support, Unlocking Potential, Constant Improvement, Preparing Students