Proximity Learning https://www.proxlearn.com Students First Fri, 31 Jul 2020 19:34:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://www.proxlearn.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Circle-Logo.png Proximity Learning https://www.proxlearn.com 32 32 Online Classes Allows Teacher to Get Closer to Students, Personalize Learning https://www.proxlearn.com/online-classes-allows-teacher-to-get-closer-to-students-personalize-learning?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=online-classes-allows-teacher-to-get-closer-to-students-personalize-learning https://www.proxlearn.com/online-classes-allows-teacher-to-get-closer-to-students-personalize-learning#respond Fri, 31 Jul 2020 19:07:05 +0000 https://www.proxlearn.com/?p=16003 The post Online Classes Allows Teacher to Get Closer to Students, Personalize Learning appeared first on Proximity Learning.

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Online Classes Allows Teacher to Get Closer to Students, Personalize Learning

Written by Christina Peebles

July 31, 2020

Blog | Teacher Stories

“Hey, I’ve seen you do well,” virtual math teacher Cody Reid said to his student. “Don’t shut down on me yet. Alright? Don’t shut down on me yet. Don’t say I can’t. Alright? Because I know you can do it. I’ve seen it. I know you can do it. It’s going to suck. It’s going to be terrible. However, that’s short term. Long term, you’re gonna go, ‘Oh my gosh, Mr. Reid. You’re right. I can do this. Here we go.’”

A teacher for online education service company Proximity Learning, Reid had been connecting with students for class through live video streaming long before the pandemic came and disrupted the end of the spring semester. But as students began logging into his class from home, he realized he had an opportunity to personalize his instruction and build better individual relationships with his students.

“[The students are] not in the same house,” Reid said. “They’re probably not even in the same neighborhood. When they’re in the classroom, it’s harder for them to speak up. However, when they’re sitting at home, they’re in their environment. They’re at a place where they’re most comfortable. It allows me to sit there, work one-on-one, [and] nudge them a little bit.”

With large amounts of uncertainty and no answers of what the future held, Reid’s goal was to try his best to uplift the spirits of his students while stuck at home. He aimed to have the hour and a half he met with students be a bright spot they would always be looking forward to in their day.

“That was my goal, so there were various math games I brought back out,” Reid said. “[I kept] students engaged that way, and their competitive [side] kicked in a little bit too. So it got pretty interesting, and then I brought back Prodigy gaming.”

Prodigy is an online game that combines role-playing with math. Students battle creatures in the game and capture them by answering math questions adjusted to their skill level. Reid implemented this game in the class as a way for his students to actively continue learning in a fun, positive way. Furthermore, he realized this was an opportunity for them to strengthen skills they hadn’t yet mastered.

“At the beginning when they first start playing, they take a pre-assessment which adjusts to where they’re at,” Reid said. “So I had students who were in seventh grade, but I discovered that they’re at a fourth-grade math level just because of one little skill that they hadn’t fully developed. So that … allowed me to [reflect and say], ‘Okay, we’re working on these skills in seventh grade. This is why they’re struggling with that skill because they don’t have a prerequisite back from fourth grade.’ So, it allowed me to really adjust that way, too.”

Not only were his students stuck at home, but they were suddenly cut off from being able to see and socialize with their friends and classmates at school. The math game allowed Reid to bring his class together in a different online environment then they were used to. Outside of their regular live online classes during the week, his students quickly began battling him and each other in the game.

“It didn’t take long for them off-screen to battle each other,” Reid said. “I could sit there and track their activity. I had students before they even said anything the next day, I could see they had done like 200 problems before they even showed up to class the next day.”

The math game was a fun, educational distraction for the students from the world outside of their homes. With the feelings of fear and unknown that come with living during unprecedented times, Reid said he focused on prioritizing his students first and foremost so he could ensure they are taken care of.

“Everything I do, decision making, lesson planning, relationship developing, I’m trying to put students first,” Reid said. “I have to ensure their safety and ensure their mindsets are well taken care of, cause I know they are probably scared out of their minds.”

But, the uncertainty persists as the beginning of a new school year is around the corner and many schools are grappling with how to reopen. With the possibility of teaching students from home again, Reid said his biggest takeaway from the end of the spring semester was to emphasize building relationships with his students before doing any form of curriculum instruction.

Reid said he got a sneak peek into the lives of his students outside of the physical classroom by seeing their home life on the other side of the screen for the first time, which gave him a unique opportunity to learn more about his students individually and be more personable with them. Because of this, he was able to form deeper connections during a difficult time.

“It’s never not what you know,” Reid said. “It’s the love that you can show them [and] the respect that you can show them, because it will never matter how much you know about the subject if you don’t show that you care to the students.”

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New Study Proves Effectiveness of Synchronous Online Education https://www.proxlearn.com/new-study-proves-effectiveness-of-synchronous-online-education?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-study-proves-effectiveness-of-synchronous-online-education https://www.proxlearn.com/new-study-proves-effectiveness-of-synchronous-online-education#respond Wed, 22 Jul 2020 22:01:25 +0000 https://www.proxlearn.com/?p=15877 The post New Study Proves Effectiveness of Synchronous Online Education appeared first on Proximity Learning.

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New Study Proves Effectiveness of Synchronous Online Education

Written by Christina Peebles

July 22, 2020

Blog | News/PR

The effectiveness of online classes has become the biggest question in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic closing the doors of schools across the globe. As many administrators, teachers, parents, and students scrambled to adapt to the sudden change in learning environments from in-person to completely online at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, there are more questions than answers about what education will look like this fall. Even more so, will students get the education they need?

After a decade of perfecting the effectiveness of online instruction, new data proves that classes taught by a teacher trained in virtual schooling by Proximity Learning Inc. (PLI), an ESS and online education service company, are more effective than those taught in-person in a traditional brick-and-mortar school.

Can online classes properly prepare students for college?

With a global pandemic, a recent study by Chicago State University found high school grade point average (GPA) is rapidly becoming the measurement colleges observe first before making further decisions on a student’s admission.

Researchers specifically studied classes taught by PLI to investigate GPAs, efficacy, and COVID-19 readiness of students learning online in comparison to those in a traditional, physical classroom setting. PLI partners with schools to provide their classrooms with certified teachers through live video for a wide range of subjects.

Based solely on percentage and GPA, a student being taught in a live virtual environment by a PLI teacher would be a candidate for college admission, according to the study. Over six semesters, the average grade of a PLI student was 80.34% out of 100%, higher than the average admissions requirements of 72.5% for the average state university.

Beyond their grades, PLI classes prepare students for college by exposing them early on to the technology and skills necessary for learning online. Plus, they have a teacher with experience and training in this virtual environment they meet with face-to-face online to guide them through this learning process.

How do students score online compared to in-person?

Students score higher than the national average when learning from a virtual teacher trained in live video instruction. The study found PLI student grades are about 6% higher than the U.S. core average of 74.4% and are right on track with the middle and high school average of 80%, according to the study.

The population of PLI students was chosen randomly for the study and consists of children with a diverse array of backgrounds. PLI is driven to achieve education equity through virtual instruction, allowing students in rural and lower-income areas where teacher shortages are at a high to have access to high-quality learning opportunities. Because of that, they are competitive with other students across the country who learn from teachers physically in the classroom.

Are online classes as effective when students are learning from home?

Many people are concerned about students losing out on instruction they need during school closures due to COVID-19, therefore falling behind on their learning.

For over a decade, PLI has trained hundreds of teachers to work in a virtual classroom. New teachers are prepared well in advance of their first day of instruction by sitting in on the lessons of experienced virtual teachers, being assigned a mentor to help guide them and answer questions, and learning the platforms and tools necessary to provide a quality education online.

This preparation has paid off in over 600 teachers who now instruct students entirely online through live video conferencing, allowing them to not miss a beat once COVID-19 closed schools and forced students to finish their school year at home. The study found that PLI students did not suffer the same challenging barriers that traditional schools encountered because they and the teachers were already familiar with the technology and software.

Additionally, many PLI teachers wanted their classroom to be a safe space during a challenging time and made sure to put students first by adjusting the classroom to suit their needs, such as giving a couple of minutes for them to socialize with classmates they haven’t been able to see. Live video instruction is arguably more effective from home because students are provided with consistency and a sense of normalcy by having set class times during the week where they log on, see familiar faces, and get to learn something new.

In other classes that were ordered to review material only during school closures, PLI teachers gave students a class to look forward to with fun review games and science experiments. There are an increasing number of tools and resources available for teachers to take advantage of in their online classes that can be personalized towards what their students need, therefore encouraging students to interact and take control of their own learning.

As the U.S. continues to face uncertainties of what the future of education will look like, the data proves that online real-time education from a certified PLI instructor successfully prepares K-12 students for college and helps them be competitive with students across the country by providing them with high-quality learning experiences, no matter if they are in the classroom or at home.

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Teacher Adjusts to New Virtual Classroom Role During COVID-19 School Closures

Written by Christina Peebles

July 15, 2020

Blog | COVID-19 | Teacher Stories

Suddenly left without classes in the midst of a pandemic two months before the school year ended, Dorvera Owens, a science teacher at Proximity Learning since 2016, immediately called for support. The school she taught at all year decided not to do live sessions after they closed their doors, so like many other teachers in the United States who lost their jobs in wake of COVID-19, she wondered, “What am I going to do now?”

Fortunately, Proximity Learning, an online virtual education service provider, was able to quickly connect her with two fifth and sixth grade classes in Dallas, TX, that were in need of a remote science teacher.

“It turned out in a way where the students were still getting their needs met,” Owens said. “The schools were getting their needs met and I also was benefiting from it and I was doing what I love to do — teach.”

Owens was one of the many educators in the U.S. that was concerned about having an interruption in pay and being unemployed due to school closures. But, unlike many teachers, she had been trained to work from home and teach students in virtual classrooms.

“We have the advantage because we’re trained educators that have been doing this for a while, and we continue to do it and I was able to continue to do it,” Owens said. “Even with school shutdowns, even with people not really knowing when they’re going to open schools again. … We were given the tools to do it.”

With a master’s degree in instructional design for online learning, Owens said she enjoys how students are increasingly being introduced to this new platform of education during their K-12 education.

“We’re at a time where online learning is almost required, [a] necessity,” Owens said. “Even students who are going to brick and mortar colleges, for example, are still taking online classes.”

As a Proximity Learning teacher, Owens felt prepared to continue teaching during COVID-19 because she had been trained to use the tools necessary to do so. She had access to the internet, learning management systems, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms that allowed her to reach students from home.

“COVID-19 interrupted education as we know it, and here we are now able to still offer continued education, distance learning as they’re calling it, through [the] internet,” Owens said. “Education still continued because everything was already in place for it to happen.”

Teachers were not the only ones affected by the sudden shift to working online. Owens said her new students had to overcome a steep learning curve by having to discover how to learn on the computer for the first time while also figuring out how to work from home. Since she only saw these students three days a week for an hour, she knew she had to meet them where they were so they could see success.

“The kids needed to actually feel comfortable with the new platform of learning and I decided Kahoot is always a great way to offer the education as well as to engage the students.” Owens said. “The kids were familiar with Kahoot, so I tried to meet them where they were.”

Owens said Kahoot, an educational game, was a really ideal way for her to engage her students with its features that allow slides and video lessons to be part of the competitive game process. By filling her lessons with a lot of interaction, she said her students were logging on just to play the game and have fun, but “of course the game is to educate.” She laughed that some students were a bit too engaged with the educational games.

“Some of the kids were coming in to play the games and had not even yet logged on to Canvas and started the assignments and activities there,” Owens said. “You work with what you have. That’s my philosophy. Meet them where they are.”

Starting with new classes remotely during a pandemic came with its challenges as well, Owens admitted. With only eight weeks together, she thinks some students were not able to adapt to the change in their education. She said that some of the students had the resources for education. However, the students and their family may not have had the tech abilities to understand how to utilize their resources.

“This situation creates a difficult problem for people who don’t have the resources for online education,” Owens said. “We can have everything we have as the tools, but if we don’t have the know-how, the tools are just going to sit there.”

But, Owens worked hard to make the most out of her short time with her new students. She utilized the first couple of weeks to help them become oriented with the new technology and began forming connections with them.

“If you’re given lemons, you make lemonade,” Owens said. “It doesn’t mean that your lemonade is always gonna be sweet because if you don’t have sugar, it’s gonna be sour lemonade. So everything wasn’t always the best lemonade. … They had a class size of 30 kids, I believe, with the fifth and sixth graders for the eight weeks that I had them. I may have had a total of 20 kids that participated at some point in time. So, that wasn’t the ideal situation. But I made lemonade out of it, and I tried to make it as sweet as possible.”

Owens said she learned about the importance of connectivity from her experience in isolation. Many kids enjoy going to school to socialize with their friends and classmates, so she learned how to recreate that on a smaller scale in her online classroom. By connecting with her students on a more personal level and meeting them in the middle, she was able to provide them with the best learning experience possible.

“Our kids are not all just brain and mind and learning,” Owens said. “Our kids are social. Our kids need to be felt like you want them there. You miss them when they’re not there, and that they’re important, and every little thing that they accomplish has meaning.”

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Collaboration with Virtual Teachers Helped this School Adapt to Remote Learning

Written by Christina Peebles

July 10, 2020

Blog | COVID-19

HOUSTON, TEXAS — Huntsville Intermediate School was one of many schools that closed its doors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but being home did not stop them from continuing to provide their students with quality education. In partnership with Proximity Learning Inc. (PLI), an ESS company, the school’s fifth and sixth grade bilingual students had been learning from highly-qualified, certified teachers via live video conferencing since August.

“With our Proximity students, a lot of them didn’t miss a beat,” said Paul Trevino, former Huntsville Intermediate School principal. “With the format that we’ve had with Proximity Learning, we were able to move forward with it without missing a beat for those students because it’s what they’ve been doing all year long.”

As the school’s bilingual class continued to be taught by live instruction PLI teachers, Trevino had to figure out how to transition the other classes to a virtual learning environment. He said he was able to accomplish bringing the rest of the school’s students online due to the help and collaboration of PLI.

“I will say that was a very critical time for us, but also a very supportive and collaborative time in working with Proximity Learning as we included them in our professional learning communities,” Trevino said. “I appreciate their support and appreciate their willingness to adapt to change during this time, but they were fantastic.”

With their experience and knowledge of how to connect with students in an online classroom, Trevino included the PLI teachers in their staff meetings to help them implement new systems and procedures. He said the collaboration had been crucial for paving a path for students at Huntsville Intermediate to continue to grow even though they were not sitting in a brick and mortar classroom.

For Trevino, he said the best part about using PLI has been being able to provide his bilingual students with a high level of instruction from experienced educators. With four elementary schools feeding into Huntsville Intermediate School, Trevino said it was critical to have bilingual teachers to instruct and guide English-language learners as they transitioned into a new school for their fifth and sixth grade years.

In an optional and anonymous survey sent to PLI students in May, all the students who responded from Huntsville Intermediate School answered that they felt supported by their PLI teacher during school closures and felt prepared for the 2020-21 school year after continuing their learning at home with their PLI teacher.

“Everything has been good,” said one of the fifth grade students in their response, “this is a very helpful thing this school has done :)”

With parents being closer to their child’s learning more than ever due to stay-at-home orders, Trevino said he had a few parents reach out to him to say they were thankful that their child had been learning virtually all school year with PLI. Students were able to begin logging in with their instructor online and begin learning new content quickly after being issued a Chromebook from the school.

“The parents were appreciative because it’s not like they had to really sit with their child and take them through modules and everything else,” Trevino said. “The students already knew what to do, how to do it, how to access it. We just had to put the technology in their hands and ensure that they were able to access the link to get to the courses.”

As the school year ended on a virtual note for all, Trevino said he has realized the school’s potential to provide any student with access to education if they need to be at home. Moving forward, he said he would definitely recommend how beneficial collaboration between his campus staff and PLI teachers was in providing students with high level instruction.

“We’ve proven that we can have the collaboration with students, with staff [and] with parents,” Trevino said. “We know now that we have that capability and how to adapt to that change.”

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These Students Thrived During School Closures with Help from Their Virtual Teacher

Written by Christina Peebles

June 15, 2020

Blog | COVID-19 | Teacher Stories

As her students signed into class twice a week amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Cori Allan, a Spanish teacher at Proximity Learning, said she hoped her students would feel that her class time was a space in their day where they could feel safe and be logged on with a familiar face — her.

“If anything else happens, I just want to be somebody that is routinely there, that is providing a safe space and is making them feel loved,” Allan said. “And if that’s all that I achieve throughout the rest of this pandemic, then I think I will count it as being successful.”

Allan has been teaching students virtually through live video since the beginning of the school year. The students would come to class and log in online, surrounded by their peers in the classroom. As schools began to close and transition to a virtual environment, Allan had one class immediately continue online.

“We were already set up to be successful at distance learning and staying at home,” Allan said. “The kids already know how to sign in. They already know all of the software. They already know who we are. All of that is ready and prepared so we can have the smoothest transition once we’re able to figure out home devices and internet.”

For Allan, having students sign in twice a week meant more than continuing to power through Spanish lessons, but that she could provide them with routine and stability in the midst of an unprecedented time. The students had been turning on their computers and signing in to class before, now they were just doing it from home.

In an anonymous survey sent to PLI students in May, one of Allan’s students responded that they felt very supported by her in their learning and said, “Since we [were] already doing this class online in school, it’s very much easier than the other classes.”

Unexpectedly, three of Allan’s students that were consistently signing in to her class everyday she said were the same students who were not doing well in their traditional brick and mortar classroom setting. She said one of them had a 11% for their grade in the class before starting to learn from home, but then began to sit at the top of the class for the first time.

“It’s been really enjoyable to watch these three students … really grow under this transition to home, which you think would be reversed,” Allan said.

While less students are able to come to class from home, Allan said the quality of interaction she had with those that signed in was a lot stronger. She was able to build new relationships with students and help guide them through assignments during a difficult time in everyone’s lives.

“I’m able to build these relationships and say, ‘Hey! What are you doing? What’s going on? What’s going on with this homework?’ and we’re able to sit down and I’m able to teach my lesson and then they can just work and ask me questions,” Allan said. “If it’s a really hard assignment, we’ll sit and work on it together. I’m a teacher that really tries to get them to learn how to find the right answers and answer correctly, but helping guide them down that path instead of saying, ‘Here’s the answer.’”

Before school closures, Allan thought the three students who weren’t successful before did not hve the desire and motivation to be. Walking away from this unique experience during her teaching career, Allan has realized that certain students just thrive more by learning outside of the traditional classroom environment.

“Sometimes it’s just the classroom setting and the kids actually really want to learn,” Allan said. “So what we as adults I think have the responsibility to do is try and find the best scenarios for these students to learn.”

While accommodating students with different learning styles is not as simple as saying “these three should just stay home,” Allan learned from her students and gained a new perspective that will impact how she interacts with students struggling in the future.

“Just because they’re not signing in and not being successful doesn’t mean that they don’t want to be successful and they’re not capable of being successful,” Allan said. “So I think that at-home learning for certain students may actually be really beneficial.”

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Despite School Closures, this Illinois School District’s Classes Flourished

Written by Christina Peebles

June 5, 2020

Blog | COVID-19

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS — Armstrong Township High School was not set up to be an online school. As the school closed its doors for the semester earlier than expected due to the spread of COVID-19, many teachers and students struggled with the transition to virtual learning. But in the school’s Spanish classes, the students had been taught by certified teachers via live video-conference all school year in partnership with Proximity Learning Inc. (PLI), an ESS company.

“Technically we were already doing [remote learning] with our Spanish classes so there wasn’t much of a change for them moving forward,” said principal Darren Loschen. “It was a little bit smoother than a lot of our other classes.”

Armstrong Township High School just finished its third year of partnership with PLI. As a school in a small, rural district in Illinois, Loschen said they have had no luck finding a new Spanish teacher to replace the last one who moved on. To fill the gap in their education, he visited another school that had been using PLI.

“[We] watched a lesson for a couple of periods and decided, ‘Hey, let’s give that a try,’” Loschen said. “Still no instructor. [We] actually had an instructor for a semester, but then that instructor chose to move on and that’s usually what happens in a small school district. So after that, we decided [to] give Proximity a try.”

Despite a lack of success with the virtual teacher in their first year of partnership, PLI has since worked to provide the high school with different high-qualified educators that better fit the needs of the students and administrators. Loschen said the new instructors in the second year were “a whole lot better.” He said he has seen improvement and success with the partnership over the last two years and is excited for PLI’s updates moving forward.

As classes transitioned remotely at Armstrong Township High School, the in-class facilitator continued to be involved with the PLI classes to answer questions. Loschen said a majority of students were active as they learned from home, but some students at their school live in rural areas that have no internet access. For those students, he said they organized paper packets for them to stay on track.

Because the PLI teacher had been teaching virtually all year, the Spanish classes transitioned smoothly with the students learning from home since they were familiar with the technology. Moving forward, Loschen said he hopes to look at professional development for his own staff that will help them be more prepared for online learning.

“I think it’s a great service,” Loschen said. “I’m glad we found it because we did not want to not offer a foreign language, so that’s one of the reasons we continued to use it and want to use it.”

About Proximity Learning Inc.: Proximity Learning Inc. is an online education service company catering to students ranging from kindergarten to high school. Proximity Learning has served over 150 school districts and instructs over 50,000 students annually. Proximity Learning has been rated as one of the top K-12 online education services in the nation, boasting the highest quality teachers, most innovative online classrooms, and the reputation as a flexible learning solution to both public and private school districts. Written by Christina Peebles. Learn more at proxlearn.com.

About ESS: Established in 2000, ESS is a leading national provider of managed solutions in PreK-12 education. It recruits, hires, trains, places, and manages qualified substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, and other support staff for school districts in 27 states throughout the United States. Each day, the organization fills more than 15,500 daily, long-term, and permanent school assignments for more than 700 district partners serving over 2.5 million students. For more information, call (877) 983-2244 or visit ESS.com.

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Virtual Teacher Goes Above and Beyond to Help Graduating Seniors https://www.proxlearn.com/virtual-teacher-goes-above-and-beyond-to-help-graduating-seniors?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=virtual-teacher-goes-above-and-beyond-to-help-graduating-seniors https://www.proxlearn.com/virtual-teacher-goes-above-and-beyond-to-help-graduating-seniors#respond Thu, 28 May 2020 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.proxlearn.com/?p=15653 The post Virtual Teacher Goes Above and Beyond to Help Graduating Seniors appeared first on Proximity Learning.

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Virtual Teacher Goes Above and Beyond to Help Graduating Seniors

Written by Christina Peebles

May 28, 2020

Blog | COVID-19 | Teacher Stories

On a Thursday afternoon, Proximity Learning physics teacher Marcia Hammond found out her students at Duncanville High School would be learning virtually from home beginning the next Monday due to the spread of COVID-19. While she had been teaching online all school year, she was concerned her students wouldn’t get the learning experience they needed while juggling classes with home life.

“Proximity Learning was already there and we were already a constant and I think that that’s what the students needed,” Hammond said. “A constant to fall back on when they weren’t able to go see their friends and other kids in person.”

Since Hammond teaches an upper-level course, a few of her students were suddenly faced with graduating into unknown circumstances. Nervous and concerned, she said they would log on to her class early or stay after to share their concerns about job opportunities or transitioning to college.

“They found out that they weren’t really on their own,” Hammond said. “That we’re there to support them.”

By connecting with her students individually, Hammond was able to help them succeed during a difficult time by reviewing concepts that applied to their specific interests. One of her students was not able to frequently log into class due to having to do construction work to help his family. To keep him refreshed on topics, she said they spoke about the different tools he uses that give him a mechanical advantage due to physics.

“We were able to do specific, … differentiated reviews that helped them to grow, and really, to me, that’s what teaching is all about,” Hammond said. “As long as a student is able to learn something new or be able to apply whatever it is I am trying to teach them, that means the world to me.”

When Hammond spoke with this student about his life after graduation, he shrugged his shoulders and said it was going to be the end of the road for him in regards to education. She said he didn’t believe he could do anything after graduation, but she saw how intelligent he was and his capability to do so much more.

Hammond’s conversations with him expanded beyond the review of physics. While he had no interest in attending a large university, she said she began looking into local options for him to continue learning and growing in construction.

“This was a challenge for me because … Duncanville is in Texas and I am in North Carolina,” Hammond said. “So, what I needed to do was do some research on my own about different … education opportunities for either a two-year college or a four-year college or a certificate that might be suitable for this young man’s interests.”

Hammond said he had never heard of contractor’s licenses and mentorship opportunities before, so she provided him with names of different colleges in his area and helped him gather the credentials he needed. Through her guidance, she was excited to say that he has a possibility for an apprenticeship for a local contractor in Dallas.

“He’s looking forward to something and I think that is important in this time of unknown,” Hammond said. “They’re looking forward to something that will keep their mind busy [and] keep their hands busy so they’re just not sitting around and doing nothing.”

Hammond said she was the first one in her family to consider and go to college because one of her own teachers believed in her. Hammond said her teacher knew the situation of her family and took it upon himself to tell her she had what it took to go to college. That relationship with her teacher continues to inspire her motivation to help her students no matter their circumstances.

“I’m a scientist,” Hammond said. “I’m a problem solver, so if there’s any way possible to help [then] I want to help. I know that I wouldn’t be here where I am had a teacher not helped me, because I was one of those kids.”

Especially in an unprecedented time with COVID-19, many high school seniors are nervously graduating into the unknown. Since her high school continued to use Proximity Learning during their closure, Hammond was able to continue connecting with her seniors online and be a constant, guiding hand for them during the rocky road to their virtual graduation.

“There’s so many stories out there of students that don’t know where to go, and I was one of them,” Hammond said. “They each have different circumstances. Some come from families that expect them to go to college and it might be reversed. Those students might not want to go to college, but there are other different things that they can do with education. … Education is the only way that they can find out about what they want to do to better their lives.”

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Indiana School Creatively Utilizes Virtual Teachers to Continue French Instruction

Written by Christina Peebles

May 13, 2020

Blog

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA — In the wake of COVID-19, French 1 classes at Tecumseh Junior High School, located in Lafayette, Indiana, were able to move forward with instruction because the students had been learning through real-time live virtual instruction all school year in partnership with Proximity Learning Inc. (PLI), an ESS company.

“Things really went off without a hitch in that class just because the kids were so used to being on Zoom already,” said assistant principal Andy Kennedy. “It really benefited them.”

Tecumseh Junior High School had two weeks of break in March due to COVID-19 and their normally scheduled spring break. The first day back in school, Kennedy said the first period French class had 100% attendance.

“All of them, for the most part, are doing their work,” Kennedy said, “Even those ones that aren’t necessarily able to log on, they’re going back and watching those links at the end of the day to do their work.”

The classes were given the option to move ahead with learning new topics or review materials since students were no longer in school. Kennedy said they decided to move ahead in the PLI classes since the students were used to learning in the Zoom classroom. The only adjustment they had to make was shortening the length of the classes to account for not wanting to overwhelm students and parents at home.

“It was simple to show [the students] where the link was in the Proximity Canvas so they could just go on, access the Zoom meeting and, even though they are home, it was just like they were sitting in their classroom,” Kennedy said. “I thought that was an extreme advantage compared to the other classes and maybe even some of the other schools when it comes to transforming the lessons to being online.”

Many of the other classes at Tecumseh Junior High School are also moving forward, but at a slower pace because those students do not have the face-to-face interaction with a teacher that PLI students have.

“Everything with our normal classes [is] done through emails,” Kennedy said. “We don’t use Skype or Zoom or anything like that. Whereas this way, students are still able to talk to their teachers, ask their teachers questions face-to-face. Which, to me, is a big deal.”

PLI’s live video virtual classrooms allow students to have the social interaction they need with their friends and teacher. In this difficult time, Kennedy said they have a mentor they can look up to.

“There’s nothing that beats that face-to-face interaction with the teacher,” Kennedy said. “Especially during this time it gives them somebody to talk to.”

About Proximity Learning Inc.: Proximity Learning Inc. is an online education service company catering to students ranging from kindergarten to high school. Proximity Learning has served over 150 school districts and instructs over 50,000 students annually. Proximity Learning has been rated as one of the top K-12 online education services in the nation, boasting the highest quality teachers, most innovative online classrooms, and the reputation as a flexible learning solution to both public and private school districts. Written by Christina Peebles. Learn more at proxlearn.com.

About ESS: Established in 2000, ESS is a leading national provider of managed solutions in PreK-12 education. It recruits, hires, trains, places, and manages qualified substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, and other support staff for school districts in 27 states throughout the United States. Each day, the organization fills more than 15,500 daily, long-term, and permanent school assignments for more than 700 district partners serving over 2.5 million students. For more information, call (877) 983-2244 or visit ESS.com.

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How This Virtual Teacher Creates an Engaging Virtual Classroom Environment https://www.proxlearn.com/how-this-virtual-teacher-creates-an-engaging-virtual-classroom-environment?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-this-virtual-teacher-creates-an-engaging-virtual-classroom-environment https://www.proxlearn.com/how-this-virtual-teacher-creates-an-engaging-virtual-classroom-environment#respond Wed, 13 May 2020 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.proxlearn.com/?p=15348 The post How This Virtual Teacher Creates an Engaging Virtual Classroom Environment appeared first on Proximity Learning.

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How This Virtual Teacher Creates an Engaging Virtual Classroom Environment

Written by Christina Peebles

May 13, 2020

Blog | Teacher Stories

“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t think we should play a game again,” Casey Harris, a Proximity Learning 8th-grade science teacher, said to her students. Her teasing was met with strong resistance, a fun, welcome distraction from their new reality of living in quarantine from COVID-19.

Although the school district Harris teaches in required teachers not to introduce any new material at this time and announced that it is not mandatory for students to attend live classes, Harris works to make full use of learning games and experiments to keep her instruction engaging while reviewing old material.

“The neat thing is that when we play these games they’ll ask to play them a second time, and I’m secretly smiling inside because it’s a game to them but it’s reinforcing everything we’re covering,” Harris said. “To them, it’s more about the game, but they get to be exceptionally good about retaining those answers.”

Time with siblings and families can not replace the slamming lockers and loud chatter of bustling hallways where kids are just a hair away from their friends. Without their social structure at school, Harris said her students are feeling very lonely at home. Her class had been online all school year, but the kids were in a classroom full of familiar faces as they watched her day’s live instruction on their screens. Now, they sit in their individual homes, where they have sat for over a month now, to log into her class twice a week.

“The fact that they’re not going to have prom,” Harris said. “They’re not going to have 8th-grade graduation. These are all things they think about a lot. They don’t have a lot to do. They tell me they sleep, they eat and they play games on their phones or on the computer. So they’re not really having a lot of social interaction.”

Harris said the virtual class time is giving them back some of their social structure. She allocates a small amount of time during class for her students to talk and catch up with each other. By filling the rest of the time with review games and experiments, she said the students can continue to interact with each other while learning.

“It gives them that chance to sort of play while they’re learning and get to talk to each other and see each other,” Harris said. “I think that’s super important.”

As classes across the U.S. struggle with attendance during this time, Harris has incorporated different hands-on activities in her classes to help bring students back.

Familiar things lying around the house can become ingredients for experiments in Harris’ class. She encourages curiosity by emailing students a list of things they need but does not tell them what they will be making.

“It’s better if we have more kids live, so I’m luring them in with experiments,” Harris said. “We’re doing experiments that are simple things that most kids should be able to easily find around the house and we started off with ice cream.”

In Harris’ first class trying this new approach, she said she had kids show up to class because they really wanted to see what they were going to do. Harris reviewed content with them as they worked together to make ice cream. Afterward, she said her students ate the treat with their siblings and messaged classmates to let them know what they missed out on.

“I had a lot of participation from them and excitement from them and looking forward to the next one,” Harris said. “We’re meeting twice a week in my classes. One day we’re working on our reviews with our assignments and staying caught up. The next day we’re actually doing our review as something fun.”

While the district put classes on pause to figure out a plan to finish the semester, Harris said her students were already comfortable with logging in to class and learning from live video instruction. As three weeks went by, students kept in contact with her through emails written with an eagerness to get back to class.

“I had emails from kids,” Harris said. “I had assignments still getting done online even though we weren’t live. But, lots of emails asking when could we be live again. So, they missed it.”

With a snap of her fingers, Harris said the abrupt end to the school year has made it difficult for her students to have closure because of the cancellation of 8th-grade prom and graduation.

“They didn’t have a chance to say goodbye,” Harris said. “They all thought they were gonna get to come back.”

As the school year comes to a close, Harris’ students will still get to take their prom dresses and clothes out of the closet to wear for a last-day-of-class ‘science prom.’

“We’re going to make it as much fun as possible that last day,” Harris said. “I think it’s pretty important to give them that closure that they’re not gonna have since we’re not in school.”

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West Virginia School District Utilizes Live Virtual Instruction to Fulfill Mathematics Needs https://www.proxlearn.com/west-virginia-school-district-utilizes-live-virtual-instruction-to-fulfill-mathematics-needs?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=west-virginia-school-district-utilizes-live-virtual-instruction-to-fulfill-mathematics-needs https://www.proxlearn.com/west-virginia-school-district-utilizes-live-virtual-instruction-to-fulfill-mathematics-needs#respond Fri, 01 May 2020 20:56:43 +0000 https://www.proxlearn.com/?p=15238 The post West Virginia School District Utilizes Live Virtual Instruction to Fulfill Mathematics Needs appeared first on Proximity Learning.

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Wyoming County Schools, WV

The Problem

In southern West Virginia, less students are graduating from college or university with a degree to teach mathematics. Resultantly, Wyoming County Schools have had multiple teaching holes across their K-8 and high schools for their mathematics courses and struggled to fill them with a certified instructor. The district has had multiple people come into the education field through nontraditional means, such as from a business or accounting field, who understand the algorithms but not how to teach students. The district needed a solution for their shortage that would also help their nontraditional teachers grow.

The Solution

When the Wyoming County Schools superintendent visited a conference and watched Proximity Learning CEO Evan Erdberg present on the online learning platform and its different features, the administrators knew the program would be beneficial for their school district. Administrators from Wyoming County Schools then visited two neighboring counties to observe classes where PLI had already been implemented. Kara Mitchell, Director of Academic Programs at Wyoming County Schools, said she saw that it was evident there that the students were comfortable with their teacher on the computer and they cared for the classroom facilitator. They started implementing virtual instruction from PLI in August of 2019 for 27 classes across five of their schools.

Mitchell said they were interested in PLI due to the programs’ high-qualified teachers that are either nationally board certified or highly certified in their content areas. With these teachers, Mitchell said they are able to use them as mentors to help invest and grow the capacity of their own teachers who are in the process of becoming certified. When talking to their principals, she said they have seen teachers at Wyoming County Schools grow in their understanding of effective instructional techniques and how to manage a classroom.

Unlike asynchronous online learning classes, Mitchell said she can attest to how the schools’ students and facilitators have developed a strong connection with the PLI teachers due to the live video component. One of her other favorite features is the teacher’s capability of recording the lesson for students to watch if they were absent or need to refresh themselves on a topic. Utilizing PLI has allowed for the district to fulfill their goals of student academic success while also allowing their students to grow emotionally and socially. Since the implementation of PLI at the district, approximately 520 students have been able to interact with the teachers through live video and receive high-quality education.

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