Tips for New Virtual School Students

Tip #1: Pace Yourself

When asked what the most important lesson learned from taking an online class, almost every student gave the same advice: Don’t save all your work till the day it is due! Often what might look like a quick assignment takes some time. If you leave assignments until the last day of the week, you will likely not have time to turn in high quality work. Help yourself by planning ahead and setting goals for due dates throughout the week.

Tip #2: Attend Class Regularly!

Online classes have more flexibility than in-person classes, allowing you to do your work in the evening or on the weekends. With flexibility comes responsibility. You are still attending public school, and we take attendance. You must log in at least 3x per week, however students who are successful login at least 4-5 times per week. Honors and Advanced Placement students should login 5x per week to maximize success.

Tip #3: Plan Ahead

There are times when life is hectic – if you have a valid reason why you might not meet course deadlines, communicate with your teacher ahead of time. Often your teacher will be accommodating to your needs, but it is difficult to adjust after you’ve been absent without notice.

Tip #4: Get to know your support team

At the beginning of the year, we help set up and identify your education team. This includes one person (a parent or other adult) who will be your on-the-ground coach. This person will help you set up physical assignments, such as labs or technology builds, and is your in-person resource for problems or challenges. You also have a site coordinator, who is your go-to person for any problems that come up, and can help you navigate the challenges of online learning. Finally, you have your teachers for each individual class. It's important to check in regularly and communicate with your team. We are here to help you, but we can't help if we don't know what's going on.

Tip #5: Create a School Schedule

Suggested Plan: How you might approach your week

• Check the News area for messages from your teacher, such as reminders or important updates.

• If it is the first visit of the week, review the Weekly Overview to check the table of assignments and activities for the week. Print the table to create a plan and track your work.

• As you begin the week’s activities pay close attention to due dates. Although most activities are due at the end of the week, some (in particular, discussions) have mid-week due dates.

• Check your Private Topic daily to see if you have messages from your teacher!

• Focus on your goals of the day: participate in class discussions, complete a written assignment, check in with a group. Your work will vary each week, so tackle assignments consistently and be sure to read and post to discussions at least a few times during the week!

Tip #6: Be Your Own Advocate

In addition to time management skills and strong work habits, our students develop self-advocacy as part of taking online courses. Self-advocacy means taking responsibility and initiative to get what you need – not waiting for others to act for you. For some students this skill comes naturally, while for others it takes effort to improve in this area.

One way to be a strong self-advocate is to ask questions of your teacher and site coordinator. It is natural to have lots of questions. The answer to some will be clear, but when the answer is not, communicating with your teacher or site coordinator is key. We can’t answer a question or solve a problem if we don’t know the question or problem exists!