Tips for setting up a virtual learning environment for students

Updated: Aug. 3, 2020 at 7:03 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Teachers and families are preparing for the start of the school year. Many opting for the virtual learning experience.

Learning from home can be challenging with a lot of distractions for students. A virtual learning expert said the first step is getting a workspace for your child set up.

“I always tell parents when we have parents transitioning to virtual education, I always say, I don’t need you to teach your student but I do need you to manage the learning environment,” said Brazilia Bilal-Page, Georgia Connections Academy executive director.

Georgia Connections Academy is a public state charter school that serves students throughout the state, including South Georgia, with teachers all around the state.

While a fully online virtual school, they do provide face-to-face activities. They teach fifth through 12th grades.

Along with setting up a workspace, Page said students should have structure, with start and end times. Put a bulletin board up with that schedule so they can see. She also says parents should know their child’s behavior and know if they need breaks or time for hands-on activities, like reading in another room. It lets them move around and not get bored.

”We call it the triad, it’s a little triangle. We call it the teacher, the student and the learning coach. If one of them is not engaged then this doesn’t work,” said Page.

Page said a learning coach is a must, which is someone that will manage the learning environment.

Page said Georgia Connection Academy has seen a 30 percent increase in enrollment since last year

“In this particular situation that we find ourselves in with COVID, we’ve seen that parents want consistency,” Page said. “They don’t want to worry about opening and closing, they also want someone that has been doing it for a while and want experience.”

Page said the academy is ready to guide families during these challenging times. They have a plan in place and teachers are trained to teach virtually, with over six years of experience.

As we enter this new school year, Page has a message for families and teachers.

“I just ask that parents and students give themselves grace. This is a challenging, challenging time, and learning a new format of the way of learning and doing it under these conditions is challenging. Right now, that No. 1 topic on my mind is social, emotional wellness for our students. It’s the No. 1 topic on most educators time, how are they doing? So before we get into the standard‚ before we get into ‘did you master this concept,‘ give yourself grace and I hope every educator out here is asking this question, ‘how are you doing?’ And let’s connect and then once we get that going, the learning will come,” said Page.

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