Monday, August 15, 2011

Things to Remember so that I Don't Freak Out

School officially starts for LaVCA students on Wednesday – this Wednesday. As of right now, none of my three K12 students have their classes loaded on the OLS (on-line school).  I wouldn’t be panicking (as much) if I didn’t know that quite a few other students had all their classes loaded almost 2 weeks ago. 

This is a case where on-line support groups are anti-helpful. We are all new. No one knows much more than anyone else. We have no helpful advice to give each-other. So when my stuff looks different from your stuff, I start to freak-out.

Certainly there must be a place I can go to calm my fears. I can’t keep calling the teachers every time something doesn’t seem just right. I don’t want to be one of those mothers! 

So I’m looking around at the K12 tools on the OLS and see theBigThinK12. It’s where all the K12 parents and older children from around the world hang-out on-line to get advice from each other. There are people there who’ve done this and been there and hopefully learned a thing or two.

I started poking around, found a bit of information that helped me compose myself and I thought I should share it in case anyone else is freaking out.

First 2 to 3 weeks: For everyone, no matter what K12 school you are in, be it LaVCA, CAVA, OHVA or any other state’s K12, the first few weeks are always a mess for many reasons.
  1. Some folks decided at the last minute that this is for them, so they’re all registering at once.
  2. There are perpetual teacher seminars to get teachers used to K12 or simply update them on new policies. 
  3. Those roving bands of statewide orientations sent the teachers all across the state for two, or was it three, weeks. 
  4. Then there are the technical glitches: students classes not loaded on the OLS, Study Island not working, attendance record not working or anything else you need on-line not working.
These things are all normal. Before the end of the first month, it all gets sorted out.

Worst case: School officially starts on the 17
th, and I still don’t have my books or classes. According to the old-timers, they pro-rate your start date and school for you doesn’t start until you get your stuff. Don’t panic that you’ll be behind.

I don’t get my child’s classes straightened out until after school starts: as soon as your advisor (usually the homeroom teacher) makes the changes, it takes up to 24 hours for the changes to go into effect. As soon as they go into effect, it’s processed at the warehouse and you should get your supplies within a week. Until then, your OLS should be correct and you can get a jump on doing the online stuff.

Study Island isn’t Working: Study Island does a big launch every year. K12 will kmail you the information to get you signed-in, but they have to wait until Study Island launches for it to start. From what I hear, it’s not subtle.
Things on my OLS aren’t working: It’s always bumpy that first week. The system rolls over from summer and there’s going to be a glitch or two. K12 will work the first week to get that sorted out.

I have all my books, but my OLS classes aren’t uploaded yet: Let your teacher know, and until then start in on the books and workbooks you have. It’s pretty much a lesson a day for most subjects. Sometimes they load things early, but quite a few people don’t get theirs loaded until day 1. It’s a pain in the tush as far as far as planning goes, but they’re not expecting us to jump in on day one with both feet if the OLS has just been loaded.  Also, from what I hear, the classes are often loaded at midnight – probably when they push updates through the system.

My child’s teacher is really busy and won’t call me back: The virtual schools are for the most part closed in the summer, just like a b&m school. When the teachers come back, there’s an overwhelming amount of stuff to do in a short time frame. The ILP (individual learning plans) for each student, scan tron tests for 3rd to 10th graders, making changes to schedules, fixing glitches with their students’ classes and non-stop orientations and meetings.  Add to the list that this is the first year K12 is in Louisiana, so most of the teachers are new to K12. Training, training and more training. Most things will be fixed by the end of week one. Those that aren’t should be fixed by the end of week 2.
When you finally do get your teacher on the phone, be polite but firm. They weren’t avoiding you; they just have so much to do in very little time. Back up what you discussed with your teacher by taking notes during the conversation and sending it to them in a kmail. They are human, and we all often forget what we talked about two minutes ago. Think about it. They probably went from talking to you to talking to another parent with similar but different problems. Kmailing them a run-down on what you talked about is a polite thing, not a hassling thing.

So basically, be persistent with your communication, but keep calm. All of these things we are panicking about are normal. It's not a case of "our child's stuff is totally messed up."  It will get sorted out and you won't fall incredibly behind. Breathe in, breathe out (repeat).

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