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Virtual Teacher Office Hours

Offering students the opportunity to meet with teachers outside of class time

Overview

Flexibility is a hallmark of virtual learning, through the way this modality allows students to learn in places and during times that work best for them. How can educators ensure those students are supported in their learning if they’re not being seen by their teachers in a physical building?

Approach

One method that many virtual schools use to address this concern comes from higher education: virtual office hours. The scheduling flexibility that virtual schooling creates also provides new opportunities for teachers to use their time more creatively, as they have fewer live, synchronous classes to teach, thus freeing up their availability for students on an as-needed basis.

Individual student-teacher conversations may be new and/or intimidating for some students, especially when they have to take the initiative to sign up for office hours themselves. Students may also be unsure about how to ask for help. Some virtual schools have incorporated training and guidance to ensure that office hours are implemented successfully and are beneficial for students.

  • At Laurel Springs School, teachers are available for two office hours each day, Monday through Friday. To ensure that office hours are used effectively, teachers and students receive training. Teachers are taught to guide students toward problem-solving, acting as a “guide on the side,” while students are taught to advocate for themselves and proactively seek out help.

  • Mountain Heights Academy asks educators to be available two hours per day. They provide their students with a template to guide conversations and get at the heart of the problem a student is facing.