Friday, January 8, 2016

Cause and effect

In today's virtual schools it is simple for teachers to see when students are falling behind or not even logging in for lessons. They are also able to keep track easily of students who are not participating in live sessions online, or clubs, or field trips.

The difficulty comes in determining the cause of this lack of engagement.

Too often if a student is falling behind in math, virtual schools attack this effect as if it is the cause. They simply focus too much on the academic issue at hand -- falling behind in math.

In my 16+ years now in the realm of virtual and blended schools, I have noticed how often there is not a 1-to-1 correlation. Meaning, if a student is falling behind in a subject, the cause of it is very seldom related directly to that subject. Indeed, there is something else at hand that is the true cause.

Sometimes a headache is not really a headache. Determine the true cause before prescribing the medicine.

Too many times we assume an academic issue is related to an academic deficiency, or lack of trying by the student. In reality, it may be something quite disparate that is the real cause, yet part of the effect is evidenced in the academics.

Virtual schools need to spend more time caring about their students and families. Each family is on a journey -- one that is far more than merely academic. Each piece of that journey can be a cause that manifests itself academically.

How well do you know your families? How much do you care? How much do they know you care?

Sometimes an academic issue doesn't require an academic solution.

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