Do's and Don'ts of Cyber School
Thinking about making the switch to a cyber school, but aren't sure where to start? Cyber charter teacher Ms. Dajczak is here to help with some do's and don'ts of PA cyber schools!
So you’re interested in a cyber charter school?
So you’re interested in a PA cyber charter school? Prepare to join a dynamic, technology-driven learning environment that cultivates creativity, responsibility, and more! Every routine in our lives has a set of do’s and don’ts. DO use your turn signal when driving, or some lady from Jersey will likely yell at you. DON’T back up the food pickup line when placing your order. As you research your options for cyber school, here are a few “do’s and don’ts” to keep in mind!
DO: Communicate with Your Child's Teacher
How’s that food order you just picked up? Did you communicate exactly how you wanted it cooked? Maybe the restaurant explained any changes. Regardless, the communication was fluid, and your chicken chimi was perfect. Let’s apply similar interactions to your education too!
Strong communication allows teachers to assist when students are struggling, or perhaps too advanced for a topic. They can rearrange assignments, and even create recordings when they know your student is absent.
Here’s a list of some daily communications that you’ll have with your teacher:
- Weekly expectations and emails
- Information regarding attendance
- Assignment expectations
- Requests for services or additional resources.
DON'T: Forget to Check School Email Daily
It’s 70 degrees and sunny. How do you feel about that choice to wear your beige sweater — which you wouldn’t have done, had you checked the forecast?
Just like checking what the weather will be, don’t forget to check your school email! This is the main communication method that your child’s teacher and school will use.
Your daily emails will likely include the following
- Materials and assignments needed for the day’s classes
- Schedule changes
- Links to assemblies
- Additional resources to support lessons
- Information regarding school-wide events and clubs
DO: Join Clubs and Attend Outings
Exercising with friends. Team meetings at work. Lunch with colleagues. These opportunities for interaction in your daily living allow you to make friends and enjoy yourself.
Did you know that cyber students can, in some schools, join clubs and attend in-person outings? It’s true! Some cyber charter schools, like PA Virtual, offer more than 30 clubs and organizations that students can join, including:
- Art Club
- Band Club
- Culinary Club
- Gaming Club
- And more!
Additionally, some cyber options have in-person outings each month, back-to-school picnics, and even an in-person graduation for seniors! This is a fantastic opportunity to meet staff and teachers in your area, ask questions, and become a member of the cyber community. These outings provide essential interactions between students, and allow them to meet local classmates while exercising their social skills.
DON'T: Forget About Local Opportunities
Local opportunities allow you to learn more about an interesting topic. Maybe you’re involved in car shows, or events at a local library. Whatever it is, you’re actively enriching your mind and self. There are many opportunities to assist your student in similar growth, such as:
- Local and regional service learning projects
- Scouts, martial arts, gymnastics, and other athletic opportunities
- Regional, school wide events
Students in cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania can also participate in extracurricular activities in their local school district. What a great way to socialize and exercise with grade level peers! Per PA Charter School law, your student’s school district will allow them to participate if the same activity is not available at the charter school. (You may have to provide transportation and be responsible for any special fees associated with the activity.)
"School districts cannot limit participation of charter school students in extracurricular activities on the basis that the activity is fully enrolled with school district students. Charter school students must be given an equal opportunity to compete for spaces in extracurricular activities.” (PA Department of Education)
DO: Commit to Learning a New Way of Doing School
Just like committing to using that air fryer your aunt gave you last year, cyber schools require you to adjust to a new way of learning. While both brick-and-mortar models and cyber schools are involved in educating students, there are some key differences with online learning.
Cyber learning is a different approach that requires:
- Self-Motivation & Personal Responsibility: Learning Coaches support their students by gathering supplies, assisting on tough topics, and being aware of the lessons being taught. You may need to redirect younger students back to learning and support their motivation to complete assignments.
- Hands-on Assistance: Parents are invited to walk at graduation with their student(s). This is because they had a hand in their child’s success. You will be required to provide assistance with daily lessons, assignments and projects.
- Checks & Balances: There are a variety of programs involved in cyber school. It is your role to ensure all student work is completed across the playing field.
DON'T: Give Up if It's Hard at First
Look at you, rocking the reusable shopping bags and sipping your paper straw. It’s hard to transition to change sometimes. Like any new learning system, it takes time to adjust to cyber schooling. If you are used to an in-person setting, don’t give up! Here are just a few tips to help you move forward with this change:
- Make education and assignments a family affair;
- Start new routines early;
- Have open conversations about your child’s emotions towards classes/cyber school;
- Create a designated learning space;
- Stay dedicated to an organization system that works for you.
Cyber charter schools, like PA Virtual, often have support systems in place to help you, such as Family Support Coordinators, tutoring, parent programs, helpful blogs, and more!
While munching on that perfect food order and planning your next air fryer masterpiece, you DO want to learn more about this cyber school option. You clearly DO care about your child’s education and future. I applaud you in all your daily efforts.
About the Author: Amy Dajczak is a kindergarten teacher at PA Virtual.
Images courtesy of: Eden Constantino on Unsplash; and PA Virtual.