The Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent study, virtual charter school. We have great teachers, and scholars who wish to learn. A key component to our success is our Learning Coaches (LCs). These LCs are actually the parents of our scholars, the coach in the home. The success of our scholars is through the support of our advisors, teachers AND LCs, though the LCs do not truly understand their role. Some understand they should monitor scholar progress with the advisor and teacher, others believe they should leave the scholar at home while they go away for work.
In order to assist all of our stakeholders, we will introduce the Learning Coach Institute. While our new scholars are enrolled in Introduction to Virtual Learning, a 10-day online course, we will have a separate program for our LCs so they too can fully understand our model, ask questions, receive support and build community amongst their fellow LCs. The idea is to mirror Introduction to Online Learning with a similar 10-day online course for the LCs, and enhance this institute through a monthly program. Some will be in-person at our Learning Centers, and streamed for those who cannot attend, while others will be online. These monthly programs will allow the LCs to learn and grow together, and build a network among themselves to support one another and their scholars.
It is my belief that this training and community will educate and empower our LCs to be successful in their role, and in turn ensure the success of their scholar(s) who are part of the AAS family.
Goal’s Topic Overview:
Research and other literature show a correlation between scholar academic success and parent involvement. From internal studies, we have heard from families on the need for additional resources and supports for them to be successful Learning Coaches. Our surveys are telling us our families need more guidance on how to be successful in this role, and more importantly, they would like the resources to be successful.
Outside research shows the same thing. The findings tell us the more support structure that is in place, the more success a family will have, and in turn, the more successful the scholar will be in the learning environment. They show the need for assistance in ways for parents to be involved and in their roles with the school system. The big piece from the outside research has been on the length of orientation and other programs, stating that they are beneficial but to watch the amount of time they take. Time in both the length of the training and the scope of the training. This has informed some of the pieces of the Learning Coach Institute, which will be a combination of online and in-person trainings, throughout the course of the school year.
Opportunity and Issue Analysis:
There is a large need for the Learning Coach Institute at the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and other virtual schools. We rely on our parents, AKA Learning Coaches, to work with our scholars, teachers and staff to ensure a quality educational program is being delivered. We have found that families who enroll at AAS, however, do not always know the expectations of being a Learning Coach and are not always prepared to be successful.
Part of my mantra is to never give someone responsibility who does not have all of the tools to be successful. We are doing a disservice to our scholars if we empower our Learning Coaches but do not provide the correct tools for their success. The Learning Coach Institute will give a crash course to our model, provide tools to be successful, and create a network of Learning Coaches who can work with one another to ensure success of their scholar within our program. We will have an intensive in the beginning of the school year, during the same time as our 10-day Introduction to Online Learning course for our scholars. These will be daily online modules for our LCs, which should take less than an hour to complete. The Learning Coach Lounge component will be monthly, for an hour, and include time for LCs to network with one another and collaborate on ways they are being successful in this role in their own homes. These will be recorded for those who cannot attend the session, or for those who wish to view again for a refresher on the materials that were presented. At the conclusion of the year, LCs who participated in at least 80-percent of the program will receive a Certificate of Completion and be recognized at the Board of Director’s Annual Meeting.
We have not seen a model to bring into AAS, meaning we have the opportunity to create the model for other virtual schools. This is the perfect opportunity to build a program and a network within AAS and within the online education realm. We have brought on additional staff to build out engagement for scholars and families, and additional staff for our Virtual Learning course. The missing link is the Learning Coach Institute for our families. This is also the first year of the program, and as such is the pilot. We know there could be changes made during the year, and in the Year 2 piece of the program. This is why surveying is a key component throughout the year, to ensure the Learning Coach Institute is a meaningful addition to the AAS line-up of program offerings.
The goal of the Learning Coach Institute is to educate and equip Learning Coaches with the tools necessary for them to be empowered resources for their scholars within the online education program.
The Learning Coach Institute will be a program of the Parent Advisory Council, a new Board-approved body of parents. There will be two (2) parents per charter (AAS operates five (5) charters) who will make up the Parent Advisory Council, in addition to a chair and the President & CEO and his Executive Assistant. The Learning Coach Institute will mirror our Introduction to Virtual Learning course that scholars take, only it will be geared to Learning Coaches. The initial program will be the first week of school, mirroring the Virtual Learning Course. Daily sessions will include topics and strategies on academic achievement, the role of a learning coach, useful resources for learning coaches, time management skills, and training on our online platforms.
The difference between the Intro course for scholars and the Learning Coach Institute is the length of the program. The Institute will run throughout the school year, with a monthly program for Learning Coaches to participate in and the ability to network and share best practices with each other through a professional learning network. The Parent Advisory Council will incorporate their monthly meeting into the Learning Coach Lounge, which will be the monthly program for Learning Coaches.
The Learning Coach Institute will run the first week of school, mirroring the Introduction to Virtual Learning Course. The monthly Learning Coach Lounge will begin in September and run through May. The Institute will be designed in July and early August, and ready for the launch on August 22, 2016.
The Learning Coach Institute will be a collaboration amongst several departments. The lead will be the Scholar Engagement Coordinator, with assistance from the President & CEO and the Executive Assistant to the CEO, who are the staff liaisons with the Parent Advisory Council. The Parent Advisory Council will also play a role, in addition to the Scholar Support Manager and Instructional Services Manager.
There is not a billable cost for the Learning Coach Institute. It will rely on resources already deployed by AAS, including use of LiveStream, GoTo Meeting and Adobe Collaborate.
As with everyone and everything, success is a matter of perspective. I will view the Learning Coach Institute a success based on survey results and feedback from the inaugural group of parents who participate in the program. We will also survey teachers and advisors for their opinions, as well as our scholars. This will ensure a rounded picture of supports provided to the Learning Coaches through the program. It will be noted to all participates that this is the inaugural program and survey results will be used to refine and enhance the program for future attendees/users.
Design Modules by 8/8/16
Review Modules by 8/12/16
Revise Modules by 8/17/16
Post Modules by 8/19/16
Launch Learning Coach Institute by 8/22/16
Host Learning Coach Lounge by Sept. TBD
Q1 Survey of Participants by 9/23/16
Report to Board by 9/26/16
Host Learning Coach Lounges by (On-going, monthly)
Semester 1 Recap Survey by 12/12/16