A Quick Guide to Parent, Student, and Teacher Roles in a Virtual...

roles in a virtual school

“Who sets my student’s daily schedule?” “Do I have to plan lessons or teach class?” “How much time will my student spend on the computer?” These are great questions to ask as you begin to explore the possibility of online schooling for your child. At Connections Academy, the answers lie in understanding the roles that parents, students, and teachers each play in our virtual schools and how those roles evolve over the school years.

To explain these roles and answer some of the most common questions, we’ve put together a quick overview describing these roles at each stage of your virtual school journey together—from elementary school to high school. While the roles and activities described here are specific to Connections Academy, we think that you’ll find it useful to understand how parents, students, and teachers work together to ensure students’ success in an online school.

Online Elementary School—Starting Out Together

In grades K–5, students typically need a lot of support from caring adults, both at home and in the online classroom. So, roles and activities are carefully structured to ensure students develop a love of learning and gain the reading, writing, and mathematics skills essential to their future success in school.

Students have a flexible schedule and …

    • Devote a minimum of thirty hours per week to learning.
    • Perform most of their schoolwork offline—reading books, writing, and completing assignments.
    • Spend 15–30% of each school day working on the computer.

Parents (or other responsible adults at home) have the opportunity to act as Learning Coaches and may …

    • Devote about 5 hours per day overseeing their students’ schoolwork.
    • Set the daily schedule with varied activities and breaks.
    • Assist with lessons and communicate frequently with the teacher.
    • Help monitor student progress and comprehension.

An experienced certified teacher

    • Develops and supervises each student’s personalized learning plan in collaboration with the Learning Coach.
    • Plans lessons, grades assignments, and conducts regular LiveLesson® sessions in the online classroom.
    • Communicates regularly with students and Learning Coaches via phone and secure WebMail.
Online Middle School—Nurturing Greater Independence and Accountability

As students become more independent and responsible in grades 6–8, Learning Coaches can "step back" a bit, and subject-specific teachers “step in” to provide expert online instruction and offline support in math, language arts, science, social studies, and an array of electives.

Students begin to take more personal responsibility for their learning as they:

    • Follow a prescribed schedule, customized to individual student needs.
    • Devote a minimum of thirty hours per week to their studies.
    • Spend 50–75% of their school day on the computer—attending LiveLesson® sessions, watching Teachlet® Tutorials, using interactive educational tools, or completing assignments from the online curriculum.
    • Blend online and offline work in their classes.

Learning Coaches have many options for supporting this transition to more independent learning, such as:

    • Oversee schoolwork for two to three hours per day.
    • Assist with some lessons.
    • Monitor student comprehension and grades.
    • Refer students to teachers as needed.
    • Communicate regularly with teachers.

A homeroom or advisory teacher monitors the student’s performance across all subjects, while subject-specific teachers:

    • Plan lessons and conduct LiveLesson® sessions in their respective subjects.
    • Personalize lessons to provide additional support or challenge as needed.
    • Grade assignments and provide ongoing feedback and encouragement to students.
    • Communicate concerns to the advisory teacher or Learning Coaches.
Online High School—Students Taking the Lead

In grades 9–12, online students start to really take charge of their education—setting goals, working independently, and exploring their future options. Again, roles adapt to encourage this growing independence and support learning in increasingly complex subjects.

Students take more responsibility for their own academic success as they:

    • Spend a minimum of thirty hours per week on schoolwork.
    • Spend 80–90% of each school day on the computer.
    • Learn primarily online.

Learning Coaches may help encourage their students’ growing independence as theyand may choose to be involved as they:

    • Commit about thirty minutes per day to overseeing schoolwork.
    • Verify that lessons and assignments are completed.
    • Communicate with teachers, referring students to teachers for help when needed.
    • Attend regular teacher conferences.

A homeroom or advisory teacher monitors the student’s performance across all subjects, while subject-matter teachers plan lessons, conduct LiveLesson® sessions, grade assignments, and ensure the student’s comprehension of his or her subjects.

Throughout each student’s school career, full-time, licensed school counselors are available to assist students and families with academic goal setting, scheduling, and planning; personal and social development; and career and college planning.

Of course, because personalized learning is the cornerstone of virtual schooling, you’ll want to bear in mind that these are general descriptions of roles in our school. Each student grows and gains independence at his or her own pace. At Connections Academy, roles, responsibilities, and the school adapt to the student’s needs.

Editor's Note: This blog post was updated on December 7, 2016. It has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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