World geography instructor Julia Maccarone, who has taught for 15 years, six of them with the virtual school, said she decided to leave bricks-and-mortar instruction for FLVS so she could work in an environment that was centered around students.

“The Florida Virtual School is all about students,” she said. “It’s efficient and more about what the student learned, and less about how long a student sat and was bombarded with information. It’s just a better way for kids to learn.”

Maccarone, who is mentoring a UCF intern, said much of what she is sharing with her intern is similar to what she would have shared in a traditional school, but some things need to be highlighted.

Online teachers “need to develop a relationship with their students, so they know their strengths and weaknesses,” she said, adding that some students have extenuating circumstances that can make it harder for them to complete certain assignments.

Though Richardson has not begun her virtual internship, she said the orientation she attended at FLVS already has allowed her to see the benefits of teaching online.

“The greatest asset is the availability to work individually with each student. No longer are you forced to continue a lesson while students straggle behind, you can work one-on-one with the student. This marks an important difference between the two methods of education,” she said. “Online education is based on motivation and individual attention, whereas much of the focus in a brick-and-mortar institution is forced to be on classroom management and teaching a large group of students.”

After the first few weeks, Maccarone said her intern is preparing to interact directly with the students through three-way monthly phone calls.

“It’s a really interesting program,” she said. “The interns who [are participating] in it are thrilled.”

Richardson said she can see herself pursuing online teaching once she graduates from UCF.

“While talking with some of the current teachers at the Florida Virtual School, I asked if they missed the interaction of seeing their students. They responded that they felt as though they knew them just as well, if not more than if they were in a brick-and-mortar school,” she said. “The opportunity for individual attention, somewhat flexible hours, and an organization that does anything for you to ensure you are able to do your best definitely appeals to me.”

Marchman said the interns each have a primary course, but they have exposure to multiple courses in an effort to expose students to different FLVS teachers with different teaching styles.

UCF interns are earning course credit as well as credit toward state certification, and FLVS supervising teachers are earning college credit toward advanced degrees through state colleges.

Links:

Florida Virtual School

University of Central Florida