Friday, October 12, 2012

Should Teachers make House Calls?


     I think every educator has thought of making a house call. Whether you really wish you could do it or just wonder what happens when a student goes home happy from your classroom and then returns the next day a mess. 

There are so many scenarios that it is impossible to get started. Former State Superintendent Tom Watkins is advocating this but in a way that educators can remain educators and a third party helps students at their doorsteps. WAY(Widening Advancement for Youth is knocking on doors, recruiting students and is conducting followup visits in the name of helping students get connected. The OPED piece in the Detroit News (Oct. 12, 2012) is encouraging students from self-esteem to developing skills in tomorrows workplace. Their approach is targeting at-risk students and and combines skills including online learning and is serious about putting a MAC computer connected to the internet. The story is below and your opinion is welcome.
October 12, 2012 at 1:00 am

Watkins: When educators make house calls, a new WAY of learning

The return to school reinforces the need for a quality education — and it's never been more important than in our 21st centuryworld where knowledge, talent and skills rule.
A child without a quality education today gives way to an adult without a future tomorrow. Whilethere is much hand-wringing aboutMichigan's"brain drain," the greater fear should be thosewho do notobtain the education they need andstay behind.
Gone are the days where you could drop out ofhighschool andstill obtain the "AmericanDream." Without a quality education and skills, life's opportunities canbecome a nightmare.
We need to stop the false ideological debate between traditional school, charter schools or cyber-schools and realize the only adjective that matters before the word school is quality.
These factswashedover me as I walked the neighborhood in Southwest Detroit along with Glen Taylor and Beth Baker, the founders of Widening Advancement for Youth or WAY,and Shannon Smith, the WAY Academy's executivedirector. Theyknockedon doors,recruiting students and conductingfollow-up home visitsto enroll kids while engagingentire familiesin a new way of learning.
Youheard that right— educatorsmaking house calls. Today's learningtakesplace around the clock and around the world. Public education can no longer be"YourFather's Oldsmobile."
TheWAYprogram is a personalized learning experience for students who struggle with traditional high school. WAY offers an alternative approach to education: One that encourages self-esteem, independence and the development of 21st century skills.
WAY currently offers their alternative,blended e-learning environment in 11 sites across Michigan with over 100 districts whose at-risk youth have access to re-engaging withthe learning process, along withitsfirst charter school— the WAY Academy in SouthwestDetroit.
Once a student —WAY calls them"researchers" —is enrolled in the program, they have access to the online learning environment 24 hours a day, 365 daysayear with a community of highly-qualified staff to help out. Each researcher is provided with aMac computer andInternet connectivity in their home.
WAY has foundthe means tointegrate technology into learning, offeringthe ability to fit educationintothe interests and needs of individual learners. Technology'sunique capacity to support investigation and researchhelpsbring people together through social networks, actively engaging student learners.
Teachers are available online 24 hours a day to ensure that a student communicateswith a live person whenever they need assistance. Every studenthas access to a teamleader, who conducts home visits,maintainsa relationship with the student and their family members,assists with the identification of local resources that are available to support student learningand helps findinternships, community projects, and social services— overseeingall aspects of the student's education.
Tom Watkins served the citizens of Michigan as state superintendent of schools.