As the supervisor for online learning at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Pennsylvania, students are the focus of my day.
I believe the key to my program’s success has always been the relationship-building I do with students and parents. I try to be open-minded, non-judgmental, and approachable to students and parents. I keep in mind that everyone’s circumstances are different. It may be cheesy to say this, but I try to meet students where they are. Homeless students need food and housing, and students struggling with illnesses need care before they can even focus on learning.
After responding to urgent phone calls or emails, I begin each day by checking the Edgenuity Learning Management System dashboard. Since I have students from multiple school districts, I toggle through those schools to review student progress. Red highlights are flags that I look for along with progress and then grades. I use the student filter on the dashboard to check on students who are behind in pacing. I do a deep dive into each student’s Progress and Grades to determine the reason for lackluster pacing. I add these students to my “home phone call” list.
Around mid-morning, I begin to call home to check on the students on my list. Usually, I have to leave a phone message requesting a callback. I follow up phone calls with a personalized email to the parent, student, and school counselor highlighting the pacing or grade issue. I keep notes on students in case there are extenuating circumstances such as illness that I need to consider before sending the email.
“For teachers, it’s about communication, communication, communication. Students have to feel like you’re directly emailing them… they can tell if you’re disinterested, even if you’re working with them online.”
In the second part of my day, I check attendance in the SIS. I use the SIS filters to create a list of students who have not accessed their classes in more than two school days. I use the LMS Dashboard to get a more detailed student attendance view and to confirm that an attendance email is appropriate for all students on the list. I then use the automatic email feature in the SIS to send students, parents, and school counselors an email regarding the student’s lack of attendance.
I have an “online learning” toolbox of tips and tricks that I send to students. These tips include “directions for attending teacher study hall,” “Locating and Navigating Carone Fitness courses,” and using the Guided Notes” feature. ”
I have open virtual office hours three days a week in the afternoon. I invite (more like insist) students who are behind pacing, have an actual grade of less than 75% in a course, or are violating the attendance requirements, to attend my virtual office hours so that I can assist them with getting back on track.
On other days my afternoons are reserved for administrative tasks that keep my program running smoothly.
My day usually ends with a check of email and last-minute phone calls. I often take parent phone calls and respond to text messages during the evening.
Marcelle McGhee is the Supervisor of Online Learning for Berks Online Learning, a service of the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Pennsylvania. A mother of two herself, Marcelle is proud to have the role of “professional mom” to those students who come to online learning needing support and accountability, helping students to learn the ropes of virtual school and reach their goals. As a first-generation college graduate and Guyana native, Marcelle has a wealth of experience and understanding that shines through as she goes above and beyond in supporting her students. Marcelle is a true Imagine Edgenuity veteran, having started using our products almost twelve years ago, and her expertise shines through in the way she provides support to other educators at every turn.