Sunday, March 14, 2010

What exactly is it that you do? (3 years ago TODAY)

I feel like someone from the movie Office Space! I get this question A LOT!
3 years ago TODAY I was hired for the BEST job I could have asked for! I remember thinking "You mean, I can work full time, AND stay home with The Superhero ?"

As you may, or may not know, I am a teacher. I taught 5th grade for 2 years, 7th/8th for part of 1 year and have been working for an online charter school for almost 3 years. After The Superhero was born I had the HARDEST time going back to work as a teacher in a 7th/8th grade math class. My students had destroyed my classroom and most of my belongings. I had a terrible substitute teacher. And it was just WAY too hard to be away from The Superhero.

I remembered an ad I had seen for Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) in a magazine I had gotten when The Superhero was born. AZVA is an online K-12 Charter school.

As soon as I knew I was not going to stay at my brick and mortar teaching job (less than 2 weeks after my maternity leave ended), I sent in my resume and other required paperwork and HOPED I would get a call. At the time, they were not hiring. I ended up accepting and starting to train for a Curriculum Specialist position at a local Tutor Time Childcare.

I got a call to do a phone interview for AZVA while I was in training at Tutor Time. I scheduled it and interviewed a few days later. I got the "you're hired" phone call the same day and quite Tutor Time immediately! I officially started with AZVA on March 14, 2007. And I can't say enough how much I LOVE my job!

Since I always get asked what exactly I "do" as a virtual teacher, I thought I would blog about it. :)

Here is a list of some of the things I do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.

1) I am currently a homeroom teacher for grades 7 and 8.

2) I have approximately 65 students in my class. This fluctuates with enrollment and withdrawals.

3) I have a phone conference with most of my families at least once per month.

4) I teach a math class online once per week for 1 hour. This year I have a Math 5 class. I usually create a power point presentation to cover the required weekly state standards.

5) I read and respond to many emails and Kmails. (Kmail is our in house email system to communicate with parents and students)

6) I grade/ give feedback for monthly work samples. Students must send in one math and one writing sample per month. I read and send formal (email) feedback on each one, each month.

7) I add events to the school calendar for any event taking place that affects the whole school, just K8, or just High School.

8) I attend a couple of events in my area, such as park days or hot cocoa nights.

9) I monitor each student's progress and attendance as needed. I try to do this AT LEAST weekly for each student, some students require more monitoring that others.

10) I attend a weekly staff call. These can be 1 hour or more. We have professional development online a couple of times per month, and those are usually 3 hours or so.

11) I write progress action plans and monitor them for struggling students/families. I currently have about 20 students on action plans. I monitor their progress at least twice per week and send them an email updating them on their progress.

12) I administer the state testing (AIMS) once per year. This is a 1-2 week task that keeps me out of the home from about 7am-5pm. This is usually done at a local hotel or church. We have testing location all over the state and I am lucky enough to get assigned close to home so I don't have to be too far away from the kids (ie:The Superhero) in case I am needed for an emergency.

13) I participate in IEP and 504 meetings for my students. I have many special education students in my class and have to participate on their calls when they come up. I would say this is about 2-3 per month.

14) I attend a few in person meetings per school year. The number of meetings can vary. This was cut back this year due to budget reasons. We still have some in person meetings, but not monthly as in years past.

15) I mentor a couple newer teachers from AZVA as well as other schools within K12. (K12 is the parent company)

16) I return phone calls of parents who call and leave me messages.

17) I work over the summer. We get 4 weeks of vacation and will be working the rest of it to prepare for next school year. I honestly don't mind working through the summer. I still get some time off and I get to work from home. (I LOVE working from home!)

18) I set my own schedule. Sure, I might work nights and weekends sometimes. BUT I can schedule doctor appointments when I need to. I can take the kids in when they are sick without having to take off work (at least not all the time). As long as I get my work done and put in enough hours for the week, I can do these things when I need to. This flexibility makes working nights and weekends (occasionally) worth it!

Well, as I am typing this out, it does not seem like a lot. All of those 16 things above, plus whatever I am leaving out, keep me VERY busy. I am sure I put in 40 or more hours each week. Some weeks require a little more, while some might be a little less.

All of this PLUS having 2 kids home with me and a house to take care of.

And as another job (I say it is like a second job, I get paid separately to do this) I also do the marketing for the area of town I live in. Lately this has me doing up to 10 marketing sessions per month. I set them up in the evenings and a few on the weekends. They are 1 hour sessions where I am scheduled to meet with families looking to join our school at local coffee shops, Starbucks, Paradise Bakeries, etc.

So, there you have it. It is hard to say what a "typical" day might look like because every day is so different from the one before or from what the next one will be.

I will say though that I LOVE my job.

I LOVE getting to be home with my kids.

I LOVE working with the families while they are educating their kids.

I LOVE telling people about my job.

I am VERY fortunate to have received the magazine with the ad about AZVA and am even more fortunate to have been hired 3 years ago.

I am truly BLESSED!

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