Maine Virtual Academy staff lends helpful advice for learning at home

Published: Apr. 15, 2020 at 9:44 PM EDT
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Remote learning isn't new to everyone.

While many are learning at home for the first time students enrolled in one of the state's online schools aren't really seeing much change.

“I like to say we could run our school from the moon if we had an Internet signal," says Dr. Melinda Browne, Maine Virtual Academy Head of School.

For five years MEVA has been providing a tuition-free online public school education for kids in the state.

“Our school is grade seven through 12, 100% online charter school," says Michael Susi, MEVA Academic Advisor.

“Our school is organized to accomplish all of its goals that are laid out to us by our authorizer, the Maine Charter School Commission," says Dr.Browne.

While they’ve had to reorganize some things from home, it’s been business as usual during the pandemic. They have some tips they use year-round to help students be as successful as possible while learning at home.

“Organizing their workspace and not only setting that daily schedule but post it prominently and then doing those check-ins and checkouts during the day and really making sure that the students have a plan, getting everything done that they need to do and not being afraid to reach out," says Dr. Browne.

Continue to figure out what works best in terms of a schedule, too, as students get used to learning from home with the added screen time.

“I think over the long haul people are going to need to have those conversations and figure out how much time is the right time for them,” says Susi.

And for teachers it’s all about planning.

“Backwards planning works really well for teachers in this model. You know, knowing what we want students to master and really breaking that down," says Dr.Browne.

Make sure to take a break every day and do something fun.

“Go outside, try to learn how to shoot a basketball, try to learn how to do something different even if it’s just getting more physically fit. Go out and take a walk every day for 30 minutes. Great time to learn right now," says Susi.

Even with all of the other stresses to think about, instructors say online learning does work.

“I think all of it takes time because it’s just not what were used to. Once you kind of get in the flow of things and you find your own personal rhythm, learning online is just as powerful as learning face-to-face in a traditional brick and mortar environment. So, people should take solace in that, that this is going to be a positive experience for everybody," says Susi.

“I am so impressed with what our colleagues in the local school districts are doing with this. I mean, I am extremely impressed. They’ve come so far, so fast. It’s really great to see that progress and I’m excited about what this could do for just the general education landscape in Maine of having this be a more readily available option for students who need it for all sorts of different kinds of reasons," says Dr. Browne.

You can find some great resources for learning and find out more about their school at their website and on their Facebook page.

They're even planning an online open house this spring.

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