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A teacher is converted from blended learning skeptic to believer

Before Sam McElroy became the iLearnNYC coordinator at Flushing High School, he was nervous about initiatives that moved at least part of the instructional program online.

McElroy, a special education teacher, had seen that lax regulations provided fertile grounds for online credit recovery to be abused, and he knew that some of his colleagues were concerned that “blended learning” is intended to render teachers unnecessary.

But after a year leading Flushing’s blended learning initiative, McElroy describes himself as a convert to blended learning. In the Community section today, he recounts what happened when he stopped using a prepackaged curriculum and started developing the online materials his students needed. He writes:

I found that the long-term advantages for my students far outweighed the early struggles. Students quickly learned to treat the equipment respectfully (in most cases), took to the routine, and stayed engaged in their work with little or no distractions throughout each class period. I was able to easily see who struggled with the content and spend significant time with them while other students worked at a faster pace. Managing the different paces was a challenge but also an opportunity to give the stronger students mini-projects while the other students continued in a unit. …

And most importantly, the platform helped me be a better teacher. In fact, I had the most satisfying year of my seven years teaching. I think my students did well on last week’s global history Regents exam, but regardless of test scores, my students clearly demonstrated tremendous academic progress and developed important new digital skills.

Read McElroy’s entire account of his blended learning ups and downs in the Community section. And check out our recent story about Olympus Academy, a transfer high school — also part of iLearnNYC — where every course uses blended learning.

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