It’s not homeschool, It’s not online schooling: It’s called Blended Learning

Re-enrollment for my son to attend the public charter school was today. As an educator, it is hard for me to sit in a room filled with parents and listen to how the public school system sucks, and how they bash the state of Hawaii for demanding students to take Hawaiiana as a history credit, and why certain things aren’t done “like that” on the mainland, etc.

As a parent, I agree with certain things, but as a classroom teacher, I cringe at some of their remarks, regardless of how true their less than satisfactory experience may be, but I also sympathize with the educators of the school’s administration.

The school recently went through WASC accreditation, and that isn’t fun. I’m a focus group leader with my own school and understand challenges with meeting the internal school reform with nationwide school mandates. But as a parent, whose child is attending this school, I am invested in knowing how all this plays out to affect my son.

Not homeschooling
Just because you keep a kid at home and teach him or her at home is not homeschooling. We learned that we were not homeschoolers, because of course, the school is still a K-12 public school, but with special circumstances, they are a charter school.

Benefits
Like homeschooling, there are concerns about the social nature to learning. Blended learning formats can be effective for preventative measures (keep away from the junk of public schools) or pacing (individualized acceleration or customized learning).

Not an online school
Just because much of the curriculum is online, the program, the lessons, the assistance from the learning coach to go over lessons on the computer, and assessed by the set online curriculum, it is not an online school.

Benefits
Choosing the right online curriculum can be an organized way to provide learning for an individual student. There are also other ways for the learning coach to modify or enhance the learning to meet the specified needs of the child without starting from scratch or creating an entire curriculum.

Face-to-Face
On certain days, students must attend the Learning Center where students gather in a class with certified teachers to review questions, labs, lessons that were harder to grasp and learning can be offered by a real-live teacher.

In general, the blended learning concept can make an ideal environment for learning to occur. From the public school setting, I try to provided different aspects of the blended learning concept for my own students, incorporating the three various areas: face-to-face learning, online collaboration and self-paced learning.

All good educators, I think, will incorporate much of these strategies, because it goes hand in hand with best practices especially incorporating technology into the curriculum.

However, as I’ve chosen the public charter school scenario for my own son, I see an ugly mess of classroom teachers and administration trying to figure things out.

As a teacher and a parent,  I have the same reservations about whether my son’s core teachers know, or even feel confident with what they are doing to provide learning to happen for my own son and their students. I can’t say I sympathize, either as a teacher or a parent.

I will always advocate for what I think is best for my son first and foremost. Do I expect that these people need to have it all figured out? I do. I really do.

Do think it is fair for parents of my own students to expect me to have it all figured out when it comes to their own children’s education (and what I provide them)? I guess I do too.

When it comes to our children, they deserve the best. There are too many changes masked as reform for their good, but unfortunately, they are the guinea pigs in the process. And if the children suffer, we all do.

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