The surveys are out. Students and parents have spoken. For many, public schools’ online education has been a nightmarish experience during the Coronavirus pandemic. They’re tired of the lack of engagement, unpredictable scheduling, and long hours on Zoom calls.
But this isn’t what online education has to look like.
If you’re hesitant to look at other virtual options because of a bad online public school experience, you could be missing out on some of the most innovative education available today. When done right, online school can give students the support, engagement, and preparation they need to confidently advance into adult life.
Let’s break down some of the major differences between private virtual schooling and public schools’ online instruction.
Public School Teachers are Burning Out
Much of the conversation in education this year has revolved around how student- and home-life has been affected by the pandemic. Meanwhile, public school teachers have been fighting on the frontlines in an ever-changing battlefield.
These public teachers’ workloads have increased by up to 100%. And this extra work isn’t just in teaching. More students are facing financial burdens and grief from losing loved ones. Without warning or training, teachers have become ad hoc social workers, relaying students to resources like counseling and food banks. Hybrid-models expect instructors to teach in-person and online students simultaneously. This model stretches teachers so thinly that it’s near impossible for them to provide quality instruction to either their in-person or online students.
“Hybrid doesn’t work. You can’t livestream and teach in person at the same time.”—Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers
This influx of responsibilities has demanded emotional resources that many teachers can’t sustain. Nearly one-third of teachers surveyed by the National Education Association said that they were considering resignation or early retirement due to the Coronavirus.
Private Online School Teachers Divide and Conquer
Sora is a virtual high school designed to be online. This means that the various roles that contribute to student success are carefully delegated across staff and faculty.
Students at Sora enjoy weekly check-ins with a counselor. This is a space for students to dialogue about their education experience and to stay accountable to their growth goals.
Sora provides Learning Experts who teach Learning Expeditions like Humane Tech and Online Community. Learning Experts serve as students’ resident experts who guide them in their project-based learning journey. Learning Expeditions are Sora’s version of a class. They feature active discussion-based and project-based learning.
At Sora, the faculty and staff share a balanced, sustainable part of enriching students’ personal and academic development.
Public School Students Aren’t Getting the Engagement they Need
According to a survey of teens who have been attending public school fully online, 78% reported attending only one to four hours of online learning per day. 32% said they spent two or fewer hours on virtual instruction per day.
Even more startling: roughly 25% of students said in a national survey that they saw their online instructor less than once a week. Some students never see their online instructors, left to rely on the internet to teach themselves.
For online public schooling, regular connection with instructors has been the exception. Even when this is the case, the quantity and quality of student-teacher interactions have been severely cut.
Private Online School Provides an Interactive Learning Experience
Students’ experience at Sora couldn’t be more different. Their entire learning model is built around interaction, not only with instructors but also with their peers.
A typical day begins in the morning with students meeting with other students in their House, which are fun groups that students are part of where they keep each other accountable to their learning goals, build community, and compete against other Houses in friendly competition. During the morning meeting, referred to as standup, students discuss what projects they’re working on and their goals for the day.
In between free periods for project work, students also join live Learning Expeditions a small group with a Learning Expert. This isn’t a virtual lecture hall. Here students dialogue and collaborate with field experts to master skills for ongoing projects.
An afternoon checkpoint with classmates bookends the day. Here students share what they have accomplished for the day. This way, there is peer accountability at the start and finish of every school day.
Public School is Focused on Present Problems
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, people struggle to focus on higher needs like emotional health and self-fulfillment until their basic needs are met, like food and safety.
This is an apt analogy for what public schools are facing right now. In-person by design, public schools’ basic need for safety has been jeopardized by the pandemic.
Administrators and faculty have spent much of their resources on accommodating new safety guidelines for in-person instruction. This includes rearranging classrooms and class sizes to ensure social distancing, implementing mask-wearing, and prioritizing faculty assignments based on health risk levels.
The list is exhaustive and has left public schools with little to no bandwidth to foster students’ personal and academic success. While some public schools are managing to innovate, this is far from the norm.
Private School Focuses on Future Success
On the other hand, Sora has always been a fully remote learning experience. So the physical safety needs jeopardized by the pandemic haven’t affected its function and focus.
Freed from worrying about everchanging safety regulations, Sora empowers students in their needs for feeling connected with friends, accomplishing personal goals, and achieving their full potential.
Sora gives students the freedom to choose how they want to learn. If you’re just as concerned about climate change as you are the pandemic, you can take a learning expedition on Coastal Engineering. If you need a creative outlet while honing math skills, you can design a comic book that incorporates linear equations. Whatever your passions are, Sora’s team partners with you to discover and develop the skills you need to succeed.
If Sora sounds like a good fit for you, schedule a chat with our admissions team. We’re excited to hear from you!