ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As traditional schools reopened in August in a new world of masks and cohorts, for teachers at online schools, it was business as usual.
But Nikki Jones, an English teacher at Colorado Connections Academy, didn’t switch to an online school 10 years ago with a pandemic in mind. Instead, she says, it was about finding a way to individualize learning.
“In the brick-and-mortar [school], I would spend most of my day teaching group classes and then every once in awhile, I would get that individual connection,” Jones said.
At Connections, Jones and other teachers spend most of their time with students one-on-one.
"I have my whole day really open for students to call me or text or email me and a lot of the time I will respond within a few minutes of them contacting me,” Krissy Gregory said.
Gregory started teaching at Connections because it offered more flexibility. While the transition from a traditional classroom wasn’t easy, she said it helped that Connections already had a consistent learning platform and mentors for every teacher.
Gregory sympathizes with her brick-and-mortar counterparts who had to make a sudden switch to remote learning. Traditional schools have struggled with technology and student engagement. Gregory is also concerned about teachers who may be putting their health at risk to work in classrooms right now.
Both Jones and Gregory are encouraged that the pandemic has led families to look into the benefits of online schools. More than 3,000 new students enrolled at Colorado Connections Academy this school year.
“We’ve found out that it can be done and it can be successful and we are being successful,” Gregory said.