Virtual Learning Heroes!
We are excited to be introducing this new column to eNews. Each edition will now feature a profile and interview of a VSV community family, student, teacher or community partner who has been chosen as a VSV ‘Hero’. We hope you enjoy these profiles and learning more about the challenges and highlights of virtual learning in Victoria through the lives of your fellow VSVers.
We are keen to include as many VSV heroes as possible to reflect the diversity of our large, vibrant virtual learning community. Whether you are a student, parent/carer, teacher or another part of the VSV community, we would love to hear from you. My contact details are listed below.
VSV Leading Teacher Family and Community Partnerships
Our first VSV Hero is Grade 3 student, Sebastian, and his parents, Martina and Jeffrey. Martina and Jeffrey are expert VSV supervisors and members of our VSV Parent Support Team.
Living in Melbourne, Jeffery is a public servant and Martina works full-time as a VSV supervisor and carer at home. Sebastian came to VSV in 2017 much prefers virtual schooling to mainstream and is engaging well with his VSV teacher, Joanne Miller, and with his VSV program this year.
Jeffrey and Martina are regular attendees at Connect days, and are experienced in all aspects of primary virtual schooling supervision and promoting engagement. You might meet them at an upcoming Connect day! If you do, feel free to say hello. You will also see them featured as part of an upcoming parent panel sometime soon.
Why did you choose VSV for your child?
We found that the school environment was too inflexible for Sebastian’s needs. He was not able to concentrate and found school to be a sensory overload, causing him to become very anxious and frustrated. We saw VSV as a way forward, giving us the flexibility we needed to provide the one-on-one support he required.
What were the biggest challenges to overcome?
The volume of material was overwhelming and we found ourselves initially falling behind when priority was given to other goals like Sebastian’s handwriting. Not knowing which parts of modules could be prioritised, and the separation between parent and teacher, was challenging. Sebastian was often feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, making certain subjects more difficult and slow to complete. The material not being suitable/ideal when working on an iPad presented challenges.
How did you work through these challenges?
We communicated with the teacher to discuss our concerns and potential strategies. These included:
- identifying priority areas of work
- constantly explaining to Sebastian why completing the material is important
- identifying apps to streamline how work was organised, completed and submitted
- re-organising the way work was completed around Sebastian’s strengths, such as doing maths all in one day
- using other disciplines like sport and music to bring fun and happiness into his day
- getting your partner to assist with some aspects of the curriculum.
What have been the benefits of VSV for your child?
- Flexible hours, frequent breaks and being able to work around family commitments.
- Working in a calm environment with low sensory impact.
- Having your own space to complete work with minimal disruptions.
- Having a one-on-one relationship with the teacher enables closer ties with Sebastian and supervisor.
- The availability and willingness of teachers to discuss issues on a needs basis.
- Being able to be more independent. For example, using technology to complete research for learning and projects.
What has Sebastian found the hardest?
- Completing subjects he doesn’t like.
- Repetition in the work that he needs to complete.
- The volume of work.
- The blurring of lines between mother and teacher.
What has been his most rewarding aspect of studying at VSV?
- Seeing Sebastian more confident in writing.
- His strengths have flourished.
- Seeing him in a more relaxed environment.
Any tips for other VSV parents, carers or supervisors?
- Be very patient.
- Try to make learning fun/interesting.
- Concentrate on your child’s strengths first to build their confidence before tackling other areas.
- Don’t be afraid to engage with the teacher early and ask for help/advice.
- It is ok to take a break and go on an excursion (i.e. going to the zoo), as this can also be a very effective learning exercise.
How has VSV changed during your time as supervisors?
- The online app has improved, as well as more upload space available.
- There are more interactive online sessions.
- Excursions such as Scienceworks, Museum, Zoo, etc has been a great initiative.
- Greater engagement with students/supervisors through more connect days and online sessions.
What do you see for your child’s educational future now?
To be honest, we have our hands full to think too far ahead. Whatever path we take going forward, we are confident that Sebastian will have the knowledge he needs to be successful in whatever that may be.