I started with IVS the first semester in January, 2001 (when we were IVHS because we only offered high school courses). I love teaching mathematics and I love technology so teaching online courses seemed like the perfect blend. I was still teaching in the traditional classroom as well. It was interesting how the two jobs enhanced each other. I brought the best of my face-to-face teaching ideals to my online classroom and the best of my online classroom to my face-to-face class…call it early blended learning…very early since I had not even heard the term at that time.
15 years later and 10 years retired from my traditional classroom, I am still learning and still growing. One of the greatest surprises that came out of my experience was the rapport that develops between the online teacher and student. I went into the venture believing that building a teacher-student relationship would be a long stretch. I soon found that the attachments are at least as strong as those in the f2f classroom. I think the relative anonymity allows students to attend class with no preconceived notions as to who they are, how they will achieve…a new beginning, if you will. Maybe teachers do, also. My teaching practices online vary greatly from those I held near and dear in the traditional environment. I can be a different kind of teacher to different kinds of students…not every single one has to fit into the mold. They all have the same end requirements, but how I encourage them to get to the end can vary where in my traditional classroom, my greatest goal was to be sure everyone was treated the same, same rules, same expectations, nearly the same lessons (though I did a lot of individualized tutoring before and after school). Diversity? Let me tell you…I have taught students who were Olympic contenders who were practicing out of state but didn’t want to fall behind in their classes, musicians who were traveling to perform (Carnegie Hall!!) and needed flexibility in scheduling, students whose parents were transferred to another country for a few months or years, students who are ill and unable to come into school (some of my heroes are students who are too ill to attend and still work diligently in the course), different nationalities, different economic backgrounds…and yet they build a learning community with each other…they find the common ground.
I have been teaching for 40+ year and have seen a lot of trends come and go. Never have I witnessed a greater impact than online education (such as IVS) offers to our students and our schools. My courses are rich with content and user friendly. Students have as much assistance as they are willing to request. Time schedules are tailored to fit their needs (outside of start and end dates…and even then they have 14 start dates from which to choose), a wealth of supplementary material a keystroke away.
Illinois Virtual School has impacted a lot of students over years, but no student has been impacted more than I have as an educator!