As a performing arts director, we always say to treat every performance as if it might be the last one. The teenagers that we train almost all the time take this advice as being so abstract. For the class of 2020, this advice became reality in March, Friday the 13th. The kids left their costumes in the theater because they would "be right back" for their next rehearsal. Nobody knew that that would be the last day that the cast would be together.
Teachers and administrators then had a very tricky job to do - change seat based education into distance learning overnight.
Schools have now been thrown into the deep end and distance learning is a way of life. This drastic overnight change might be exactly the update education needed for some students. What will emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic is a bigger need for Hybrid Education. The world is not one size fits all so why should education be one size fits all?
Hybrid Education takes the best of both worlds (traditional seat based teaching and independent study) and has them meet in the middle. Students go to school a couple days a week and then study independently the other days of the week. This gives the students the high school experience of seat-based, hands on education with the flexibility of independent study experiences to fit the needs of the individual student.
There are a variety of reasons why Hybrid Education is likely the trend that will become a part of education. The world moves so fast and families have different pulls on their time and their schedules. Some students are trying to speed up their high school career. Some need to get jobs. Others want to attend the local city college at the same time as high school and others need to help out at home. Like I said, the world is not one size fits all.
Encore High School, a regional arts school in Southern California, is introducing an interesting hybrid program in the fall. They have been planning this for two years for opening this fall, 2020. Covid-19 is solidifying that now is the time for a change in how education behaves.
The Encore Hybrid program calls for the student to come to school two to three days per week. During this time, students take traditional classes. They get to socialize at lunch and they get to "choose their own adventure" for classes that they wish to take (up to four classes). These classes can be a combination of academic and arts classes. Students take part in these classes the same as any other traditional program.
On the other school days during the week, the students in the Hybrid program are tasked with online learning without coming to school (much like the current reality with Covid-19). The classes taken at home are academic classes. Students take one course at a time with the expectation that they will complete a semester class every five weeks (two semester classes make up one yearlong class). Students come in at least every other Friday to complete final unit exams in the courses.
When students are learning from home, how do they get the support that they need?
In this particular program, there are a variety of supports built into the program to make sure that the learning at home experience is just as significant as the learning at school modules.
1. ENCORE LIVE & ZOOM RECORDINGS - Every week, credentialed teachers have a "TV Guide" style schedule where certain classes during the week are recorded and then later made available on Encore's education channel. If a student logs on to the class in real time, they can ask questions as if they were in class while at home. If they need the lecture, they will be able to look up the lecture by topic on the Encore channel (as they come available). These classes will give access to 24 hour tutoring from credentialed teachers.
2. INDEPENDENT STUDY COORDINATOR - Students are required to meet with their independent study coordinator every other Friday for testing. When they meet with their coordinator, they will complete two unit final exams for their independent study classes so they can stay on academic pace. The Coordinator is also tasked with sending emails to the student and the parent with academic progress updates every two weeks. Students reach out to their independent study coordinator to ask for extra help from credentialed teachers and special appointments with credentialed teachers and peer tutors.
3. CREDENTIALED TEACHERS - Hybrid students have credentialed teachers that are grading and helping them complete their online courses. Using the email and Zoom helplines, students have the opportunity to have one on one and small group teaching virutally if a specific subject needs to be covered because the independent study students are at a different pace than the students in class. The courses are set up to be completed independently, but credentialed teachers are helping to make sure that concepts and standards are mastered.
4. PEER TUTORS - Student Members of CSF (California Scholastic Federation) and NHS (National Honor Society) volunteer to tutor Hybrid students on a variety of subjects. Hybrid students make appointments with peer tutors through their independent study coordinators.
5. LIVE CLASS DROP INS - Sometimes as a student gets stuck on one concept, there is the opportunity to schedule a drop in to class to watch a lecture and work in class to get through a specific independent study concept. These drop ins are scheduled by the independent study coordinator.
Why Hybrid and why now?
There are advantages to being a part of a traditional seat based program for school. There are also advantages to being a part of an independent study or homeschool program. The concepts of both types of education work and both teach a student very good qualities. From learning how to get things done on your own through independent study while learning how to work as a team at school, the program that offers both of those traits is Hybrid.
The world is uncertain of what the next steps will be. As they talk about social distancing at school and the conversation is now happening about updating and innovating education, now is the time for Hybrid Education to become a staple for families and children all over the world. Independently working while communicating as a team will be the outcome for this new and innovative type of education. This might be one of the great things that comes out of the global pandemic that changed the way the world sees the world.
Petey the Pirate is the author of this blog for Encore Education Corporation. Part of Encore Education Corporation is Encore High School, a free public performing arts regional high school in Southern California grades 7 - 12. Encore's High School program is currently taking applications for the fall 2020 enrollment. www.encorehighschool.com. Where arts and academics grow together. WASC Accredtied. Copyright 2020.