Apr 26, 2018
Tutors can bring their own personal and personalized touch to K-12 online schooling – qualities that are integral to students doing their best in a non-traditional learning environment.
More than 300,000 U.S. K-12 students attend “virtual schools” – full-time, online alternatives to the brick-and-mortar school systems. Millions more take individual online classes each year, and their numbers are growing, with five states now requiring students to enroll in at least one online class before graduating.
Yet despite offering students flexibility in terms of what, how, and when they learn, virtual schools have well-known shortcomings. Many students, particularly lower-achieving students, struggle to graduate from their virtual schools, or gain the equivalent education that they would otherwise have received in-person.
It seems that while we can replace the classroom, we can’t replace educators and the central role that they play in cultivating students’ academic and behavioral skills. Tutors can provide the much-needed human component for students enrolled in online schooling.
Building Diverse Skill Sets
Online K-12 students still have homework and projects. They may find them difficult to complete, however, without the appropriate support that classroom instruction offers. Teaching time management and executive functioning skills – including keeping routine schedules and to-do lists and using memory-building exercises – can help develop structure for students.
The absence of a physically present educator presents a major obstacle for many struggling online students. Add into the mix the questionable value of online makeup coursework, and tutors have a natural role to play as an authority figure in their students’ lives.
Like any classroom teacher, tutors have a responsibility to ensure that their students are engaged.
Connecting Students to Learning
Schools provide more than academics, in the form of extracurricular activities and the dynamics of a larger student body. Without these daily aspects of school life, online students risk isolation from their peers and the learning process.
By working through lesson plans with students, tutors can build a better sense of connection between students and their material. The learning doesn’t stop there, either: tutors can incorporate social and emotional learning techniques to compensate for online education’s lack of personal interaction.
Cultivating Independent Learners
In the end, online education is what one makes it. For high-achieving students, online programs might include Advanced Placement or other college prep coursework. For other students, the attractive offerings might be remedial or makeup classes.
Whatever the student and their workload, tutors can cultivate tailored lessons for students who couldn’t adjust to the full-time brick-and-mortar school schedule.
Just like with online schooling itself, the value of having a tutor depends, in part, on the student and the circumstances. For high- and lower-achieving students alike, tutors can provide deeper engagement with online learning material and the different, interlocking skill sets that reinforce the learning process.