Sunday, August 9, 2015

Working In a Virtual World

Sunday, August 9, 2015




Well this high school counselor has a new position!   A few days before school started, I was hired by our virtual school as the Virtual Learning Specialist!  Don't let the title fool you because my new position still encompasses my counseling skills, such as: the ability to form relationships
with students; transferring my knowledge of academic, college, and career guidance to families; employing my superpowers of transcript auditing; advocating for students; and collaborating with teachers.  Not only will I serve as counselor, but I will have the ability to develop programs, train students in peer mediation and peer helping, and even teach a class (something I love doing)!!  So, now that I am working in the virtual world, I will have to change the way that I communicate with students.  A  plan that my administrator and I worked out was that I would be able to come into the office later twice a week to assist the kids who need help online.  During those hours, I will to talk to students and parents, communicate with online teachers, assist students with resources,  develop academic plans with students, and contact students who are falling behind (things I normally do all day long if I were sitting at my office).  Working in the online environment will be different, but it gives me the opportunity to experience a brand new world.

Why Get Involved in Virtual Learning?

Virtual learning is still in its infancy and many don't realize the usefulness of a school counselor in this environment. Currently ASCA estimates that less than one percent of its members are employed at online schools. Sure there are many challenges in online education, but school counselors can make an impact in this new environment.  Even in an online world, there will always be the need for relationships and school counselors know how to make positive connections.  This will be important in the future as enrollment in virtual learning continues to grow. The Association for American Educators found that approximately 310,000 students in 30 states attend a fulltime online program.  According to Eric Sparks, Assistant Director of ASCA, one of the challenges for online schools is to provide a comprehensive school counseling program. In fact, one of my goals is to create the second comprehensive online counseling program and strive for Ramp!

Check out Mindsets and Behaviors Webinar if you are interested in going for Ramp.

Diving Into Technology

I think one of the reasons that I feel comfortable working in an online environment (besides a great administrator and coworkers) is the professional development that I have experienced over the last three years in the virtual world. I have been so inspired by my professional development, that I will be adding a new addition to my blog for virtual school counselors. If you have never been a part of any of the professional development in technology, you must check out these awesome counselors, counselor educators, and Twitter Chats!

Experts in Technology

Dr. Erin Mason
Russ Sabella
Susan Spellman Cann
Jeff Ream
Carol Miller

Twitter Chats

#SCCHAT
#SCCROWD
#EDTECHCHAT
#VIRTUALSCHOOL

I am including a list of resources so you can learn more about virtual counseling, the role of a virtual counselor, and the pros and cons of counseling online.  Although counseling online is not for everyone, it is definitely going to be a niche for school counselors who want a challenge and expand their horizons. 

Learn More About Virtual School Counseling

Role of Virtual Counselor

Virtual School Counseling Brings Unique Rewards and Challenges

Virtual School Counselors

Counseling Is a Virtual Experience for Students at Online Schools

The Growing World of Virtual Schools

Department of Defense Virtual High School

Florida Virtual Campus

Illinois Virtual School

K12 International Academy

Louisiana School for Math, Science, & the Arts

Maryland Virtual Learning Opportunities

Minnesota Virtual School

Nevada Learning Academy

New Hampshire Virtual Learning

New Jersey Virtual School

Oklahoma Virtual High School

Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School

South Carolina Virtual School

Standard Online High School

Texas Virtual School Network

Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative

West Virginia Virtual School

Wisconsin Virtual Academy

High School Connect

Broward County Virtual Counselor

Centennial Counseling Online Learning Sites

International Association for K-12 Online Learning

North Carolina Virtual Peer Tutoring 

Forsyth County School Digital Learning Continuum Procedures

Conferences

Online & Blended Learning Conference - March 17-18, 2016

More Resources

US Education Department to Fund $1.6 Million Study on Virtual School Effectiveness

Virtual Snow Days

Online Readiness Tool for Online School

Counseling Is a Virtual Experience for Students at Online Schools

Virtual Counseling Jobs

Virtual Counseling Positions