Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is the largest virtual school in terms of enrollments in the country. It acts as a course provider for districts in Florida and other states. With more than 700 full-time instructional employees and over 10,000 students on a wait list to enroll, they are the only public school with funding tied directly to student performance. How does this school reach out for staff development? FLVS, it’s great to meet you. Our training is dynamic in-person staff development training specializing in engaging how the brain learns to get results. At first glance it might seem as though these two educational institutions are worlds apart, however, they are closer than you might think.
For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of training hundreds of FLVS teachers in our Quantum Learning methodologies, which have increased online results. So, how do in-person group dynamics meet online learning? It is a question I constantly ask myself as I get on the plane to head to Orlando for the training. I know it is my job to facilitate this partnership.
The willingness of the professional educators to match a strategy that produces extraordinary results in a typical “brick and mortar” classroom to the online environment is the first ingredient to this success. For example, Quantum Learning has a design and presentation method that orchestrates student’s being more willing to take risk with new content. These risks can include something as simple as raising a hand to ask a question or as high gradient as standing in front of a group of peers for a presentation in the “brick and mortar.” Translated to the online environment; calling or instant messaging the teacher or another student to ask for help or a discussion-based assessment at the end of a module. The Quantum Learning instructor models the innovative practices and debriefs why these strategies work and produce results. The FLVS teacher takes the purpose and translates the strategy into one that produces results in the online environment. I am constantly impressed by the teachers’ dedication to their students’ success.
This transfer happens in team collaboration sessions. These trainings give teachers, who are typically on a solo mission of working from home, an opportunity to be in the same space with their partner teacher and other educators from their department. It’s a time for a meeting of the minds with the focus being on student success. Often times the collaboration outside of staff development training happens via phone, email, instant message, or conference calls. We have all been here, trying to focus, and our son, daughter, or dog comes in demanding our immediate attention. The in-person Quantum Learning training focuses on utilizing the time together to both implement strategies as well as strengthen the relationship between colleagues so virtual collaboration continues to run smoothly. There is so much beauty in spending time being together and working as an organic unit with outcomes in mind. Staff that have great relationships produce high-quality work and are more willing to go the extra mile when they feel valued and supported.
The bottom line, whether we teach in a “brick and mortar” school, online, or in another country: great teaching is great teaching. Educators who are committed to spending time working on mastering the craft of teaching and building strong foundational relationships between staff members are high performance human beings.