It’s funny how important teachers can be. Oh, every parent who has ever walked their child into a public school classroom knows full well that their child’s teacher is the most important influence on how the year is going to go. Teachers are the ones who determine the pace of the learning, the mood of the classroom, and even the energy that the students display. They set the policies that will determine whether or not your child gets in trouble for normal “kid” behavior, and the rules that will set the tone for the entire year.
But what about virtual teachers?
After all, in a virtual school setting, teachers have little to no contact with their students throughout a typical week. They might preside over a class connect session or two (though even those are divided up by subject, so that each teacher sees each student for only an hour or so throughout the course of the week), and they’ll see their students in conferences around once a month, but real, intensive interaction does not take place during those hours. A teacher may have only the vaguest glimmer of what an individual child actually needs, and most of their information comes from looking at numbers and facts on a screen, not from the actual child.
In that regard, a parent can go through the entire school year with little or no input from the teacher, choosing their own path through the online system, teaching their child the way they see fit and not worrying overmuch about whether or not they’re doing it in the “approved” manner. The most interaction their child may have with the teacher is as an administrator during a test or other evaluation, or the occasional tutoring session.
Or a teacher can make all the difference.
A teacher can be a child’s advocate, sighting out problems before even the parent is aware of them—because that is their job, and what they have been trained to do.
The teacher can work with the parent to ensure the best education possible for the child.
The teacher can provide learning-level appropriate material for an advanced or slower learner, to either give additional help or additional things to work on.
A teacher can make learning fun and worthwhile again.
The best teachers are the ones who do this with joy and patience, who approach the child with an open mind and an open heart—even in a virtual setting.