At this school, we've got a group of educators focused on what they do best: teaching.
During lockdown I got a call from a parent interested in learning more about Valenture as an option for her teenager.
I often get such calls – from acquaintances and total strangers and friends of friends – because I am active on Facebook and often offer advice when people ask Valenture-related questions. I remember how I felt back in February when there was nobody I could speak to about their impressions of the school as the school was only a few weeks old. I would have so appreciated being able to speak to a parent whose child had experienced Valenture Institute first hand. I am therefore open to chatting to anyone considering switching from traditional schooling and often spend hours on the phone with anxious parents because I can really relate to their concerns.
On this particular day, we spoke for ages and I answered her questions as best I could – no two kids are the same and so, never having met her or her daughter, I couldn’t answer her specific questions around structuring her daughter’s school day, and whether her daughter would make friends with her classmates. I shared all about the Valenture classroom structure, the weekly modules, the assignment deadlines, the course content, and the teachers. Sam even came to the phone and gave his perspective.
At the end of the call, as I was about to put the phone down, she said: “I have to ask you one more thing. Have you ever met anyone from Valenture in real life?”
I paused. Then laughed. “No, actually I haven’t.” And then it dawned on me that I hadn’t dwelled on this before as it was never an issue for me. Right from the start I understood that this was an online environment, unlike one I’d been part of before. So I stopped expecting what you’d usually expect – to meet the teachers, chat to other parents at drop off or pick up time, see the physical environment your child spends their days in.
In its place, what we got was a group of educators who focused on what they did best: teaching. Without the constraints of the physical space, and the need for disciplining children who misbehaved in class, and substituting other teachers’ classes, and attending assemblies and prayers each morning, and supervising extra murals each afternoon, and spending hours in traffic each day, these teachers are free to indulge their passion for educating students, which manifests itself in creative teaching and job satisfaction that is written on their faces.
And others better equipped to interact with parents, take care of students' mental wellbeing, and get to know this diverse group of teenagers with the aim of helping them achieve their personal goals, are employed to do just that without having to worry about teaching them or marking their work. (More about the groundbreaking Valenture mentor system in one of my next columns.)
“But I haven’t felt the need to,” I told her. “The Valenture staff may only exist on Zoom, but they know my son better than any ‘real life’ educator ever has.”
Written by Caryn Gootkin.