Lead Learner Musings

An archive of Dr. Loewenstein's weekly newsletter entries

Let's Tell Our Story!

March 29, 2019

What is OVS?

It is difficult to explain our learning environment to those who are not in our program. I'm sure you have experienced the sideways glance from family or friends when you explain that your learner only goes to school once per week. Try explaining that to a bunch of teachers! This week, that is exactly what our middle school team and a few of our learners did at the NETA (Nebraska Educational Technology Association) conference. They all did a wonderful job sharing about our program. Thank you, Noelle and Carter for representing our learners and middle school team for putting together a great poster session to share about our program.

How can we share our story?

This week, we have had a videographer go to a few of our families' homes so they can share how our program works at home. I was inspired by this and want to share more about our program and share to social media to truly tell our story. How do you do school at home?

Think about this, and start sharing out on your own Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Or, share with us to share out. In order for us to grow, we need to share out and tell about the amazing things that our learners do during the day. Share out about the hard work our learning coaches put in to making our program work for their learner at home. We are an amazing group of dedicated educators and learners, and we need to "toot our horns" a little more!

Help us tell our story, by telling yours. We have so many to tell!!


Finish Strong

March 22, 2019

Spring has Sprung! Finally! Pot holes or not, spring weather is welcome! We've all spent a long winter cooped up in the house, getting sick, getting sick of SHOVELING! While the long winter was frustrating, it was also a good time to ensure that you and your learner have a strong schedule and system in place to meet learning goals and stay on track with the pacing guides. Sunshine and a beautiful day make it harder and harder to focus on school work. But be sure to keep your schedule in place, whether it is 72 degrees or not. Routine is what most learners thrive on and need when it comes to learning and practicing new concepts. Daily exposure to content and practice of skills helps learners progress and build off their understanding. Those building blocks are key! With regular schedules and engagement, learners can quickly relate back to the previous day and continue to grow and build where they left off.

Think of it like this. You are preparing for a vacation, packing, organizing, etc. You go on your week long family vacation. You get home and you have MOUNDS of laundry, unpacking and putting everything back in it's place, and grocery shopping before you can get back in to your daily life and routine. If a student takes a few days, or worse a week, off of any content area, math, language arts, science and social studies, EVERY TIME they sit down after that gap in instruction, they have to unpack, grocery shop, do the laundry, and get everything back in place (in their mind), before they can move on and build on previous learning. That is a lot of work!

So, while taking breaks from math or language arts may seem like you are giving a treat to your learner (or yourself), it actually makes it harder to get started when they sit back down. They will spend longer remembering where they left off and reviewing then actually moving forward.

Why am I saying this now? I urge you to NOT take days off of learning. It may feel great at the time, but ultimately, it is your learner and their cognition that will struggle and they will not make the gains that we want them to. I equate it to working out REALLY hard and then eating a half dozen donuts. (yes, I've done that before!)

Keep up the hard work, learning coaches. We are on the back stretch. If you are reading this now and saying, uh oh! I'm guilty. Then take some time during this rainy weekend to review your learner's schedule, pacing guides, grades, etc. and make a plan for the remainder of the semester to ensure that they are actively, learning every day.

And, please remember, we are here to support you. If you need help getting back on track, working on a schedule, or getting your learner to master a concept, reach out to your teachers or Mrs. Nommensen. We are all in this together!

Enjoy your weekend!


Help Us Grow OVS!

March 15, 2019

Registration for OVS for the 2019-20 school year opens for NEW families on Tuesday, April 2nd. This means we are officially in recruitment season.We are working hard to get the message out of how amazing our program is, so we can attract new families and learners who can thrive in our unique learning environment. We will hold infosessions, curriculum open houses, OVS 360 (a panel-type event) to inform potential families about our program.

We may be calling on some of you and your learners to help us with these events. What we have found is that the message is more impactful if we have current, engaged families to answer questions about your experiences and perspective. You are our biggest advocates!

How else can you help?

  • Share our Facebook and Twitter pages
  • Share our social media posts and events (tag people in posts)
  • Write a review on our Facebook page
  • Distribute informative flyers at libraries, churches, community boards (flyers are coming soon)
  • Share other ideas on how we can get the word out!!

Most importantly, be honest about our program. It takes work! Learning coaches/parents have to invest a significant amount time, energy and effort into their learner's education, DAILY. Learners have to engage in learning, DAILY. Our program is not easy, but we are powerful, impactful, and supportive. To continue to build our program, we will need your support!


We are ALL learners at OVS!!

March 8, 2019

Learning Coach (parent) Training and Support

Let's face it. Being a learning coach in our program is a lot of work! We know learning coaches put in a lot of time to support their learners at home. Whether it is previewing lessons and preparing materials, re-learning math to support your learner, entering in attendance, checking in with your learner's grades, schedule, pace. The list goes on. We know you work hard to support your learner. That shows through our learner's success and growth throughout the year.

During our last coffee chat session I asked learning coaches about how we can best support learning coaches in our program.

  • How can we personalize the LCs training and support as we do for our learners?
  • How can we ensure that all LCs have the skills they need to facilitate learning at home?
  • How can we share program information that is necessary for LCs to meet the expectations of our program?

One theme that was recurring from LC feedback was that the needs for our learning coaches are different based on what year they are in our program. AND there is still a need for all LCs to have the same important program information.

One consideration was developing LC training tracks for Year 1, Year, 2, and Year 3+ learning coaches. These trainings would be available for all LCs, of course, but recommended or required for the LCs in these groups.

How do we determine what LCs need to know for each year?

We need feedback, participation, and support from LCs to know what you need to know, when you need to know it. Our plan is to create a small group of LCs to work with us to plan, develop, and even facilitate some trainiings for the next school year. We will be reaching out to LCs in the near future to gather this group of LCs.

What we do know...

Based on LC feedback last year, we implemented required LC trainings this year. Feedback on those sessions was positive, and these trainings will remain next school year to share program procedures, expectations, etc.

Based on the LC Training survey input from LCs, we will work on varying our delivery of trainings through the use of online tools for participants to watch recordings or participate live from home. Possible tools would be Blackboard Class Connect, YouTube, Facebook Live!, etc.

Big picture

Feedback and Growth Mindset

March 1, 2019

Parent feedback is what makes our program great! That is why it is important for learning coaches to share their ideas, thoughts, and concerns (in an appropriate manner, of course!). We hope you feel like your feedback is heard. Growth Mindset is a core value of our program, because we are never done learning or improving. That goes for our program, our teachers, and myself!

One way we get LC feedback is through the quarterly “Coffee Chat with Wendy” event. Last week, we had LC coffee chat at the K8 building and we engaged in conversations regarding learning coach training, learner experience, plans for next year, etc. We will have at least one more LC coffee chat before the end of the year at the K8 and high school locations, to help reflect on our successes and determine where we can improve.

One of the suggestions that was shared is that our newsletter is TOO LONG! So, this week until the end of the semester, we will try a new format that we hope will enhance the experience of learning coaches. Our newsletter is the ONE WAY that we can share information to our whole community. It is an expectation that LCs read it. If we expect it, then we need to make the format user-friendly for you.

Please let me know your thoughts on our new format and we will continue to improve upon it until the end of the school year!

Please be on the lookout for a feedback box during next week’s parent teacher conferences for you and learners to share additional feedback on our program. Remember, feedback isn’t always negative…We like compliments, too!

Have a great, warm weekend Ocelots!!!


Dr. Wendy Loewenstein


Omaha Virtual School