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  • Ethan Allen Preparatory, Ridgefield CT
    Student Athletes Behind the Screen: Shining Light on the Misconception...

    In hopes of avoiding the inevitable uncomfortable feelings that arise in novel experiences, people tend to stick to what they know. Parents continue to send their kids to traditional schools, despite bleak notions of the education system, because they find comfort in knowing what to expect from it. Although previously considered non-traditional, high schools that operate on online platforms are increasing in number and becoming more widely accepted. Understanding that this is still new to many, and there are remnants of negativity directed towards online education, let’s dive into common misconceptions and hear examples of its use from a high school, Ethan Athen Preparatory, that is a leader in using online programming as part of their blended model for high-achieving student-athletes! #1: Online learning is easy While the challenges of online learning come in different shapes and sizes from those of an on-campus student, they are no less difficult to maneuver. Online learning provides an excellent opportunity to develop self-efficacy in working toward the ultimate goal of graduating high school. This tenacity of working toward a future goal is often referred to as grit. Research shows that grit is more predictive of success than inherent intelligence. Online learning flexes the muscles of resiliency, forcing students to adapt to a newly challenging environment by filling their toolbox with techniques to stay the course. Growth is only possible through hard work and online learning certainly lends itself to that! What does EAP say?: “Even though their schedules are flexible, they still have the same amount of work as everyone else. Classes are held to common core standards, and students have the option to take honor and AP level courses. Students are also challenged with developing a new set of skills that come along with being a full time scholar athlete. We explicitly teach time management, planning, and organization to help guide students in self-directing their learning.” #2: Online classes aren’t accredited While it varies program to program, there are many online schools that are fully accredited. To become an accredited institution, a school must meet the standards of an accrediting organization; examples include: the United States Department of Education, the Northwest Accreditation Commission, AdvancED, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. These independent councils measure school communities against set criteria to ensure they are providing education that is performance, integrity, and quality driven. If an institution is not accredited, class credits may not count towards a diploma or be transferable between schools. What online platform does EAP use and how did they choose it?: “After significant research, we decided to use the K12 online academy. They are fully accredited by the Northwest Accreditation Commission, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the NCA Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. What solidified our decision was that they are also accredited by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Being a preparatory school for golf athletes, we are a resource for our students in understanding NCAA regulations and working with them to individualize their experience.” #3: Little to no interaction between teachers and students While online learning is often thought to be perturbed by a glass barrier, the experience of an online student is vastly different from what is expected. In an online learning platform, passionate teachers deliver consequential learning experiences to their students. We are seeing this now with public school teachers who have had little to no experience with online learning: teachers are able to bring education into the homes of their students with zeal and dedication. Not only does this speak to the resiliency of teachers and students, it speaks to the power of the thirst for knowledge. If you have a child who is experiencing online learning for the first time, you might have noticed a shift in the focus of their education. The emphasis is less on the amount of work they are doing but on their understanding of the material. This fundamental shift in the paradigm of teaching makes way for an unrestrained connection between the teacher and student. The genuine desire to help students digest complex information becomes the forefront of all communication, promoting a culture of curiosity. With this, students begin to feel more comfortable asking questions. You might notice your student becoming more active in the chat section of their lessons or even speaking up with a question or two. This is not unusual in the arena of online learning. There is less pressure to formulate the perfect question or to sit silently in the corner of the room when their social anxieties become reduced to pixels on a screen. The growth of inquisitiveness is not only a positive consequence of this new style of interaction; it is the essence of a meaningful educational experience. What is EAP’s approach?: “Our students have board-certified teachers for each class. They interact in live group sessions and provide daily communication. EAP has a blended learning model that is based on a distance learning platform and enhanced with one on one individualized in-person instruction from our specialized education team.” #4: Colleges don’t like to see diplomas from online schools Legitimacy is determined by accreditation, not the mode of delivery. Colleges do not differentiate between traditional and online schools. What college admission counselors look for are challenging high school curricula, growth in grades year to year, solid test scores, and well rounded students that are involved and engaged in extracurricular activities. They use these measures to ascertain how a student will highlight the qualities of a school’s culture, as well as how they may propel them into diversity. You might have seen the social media post circulating about the 450 online courses being offered for free by ivy league schools. This speaks to the value prestigious institutions place on online learning. Remote access to educational materials is not viewed as a shortcoming of the student but rather an opportunity for educators to make an impact on the masses. Where have EAP students attended college?: “Graduates of EAP have gone on […]
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  • A Seed is Planted in Quarantine: The Growth of Online Learning in 2020
    A Seed is Planted in Quarantine: The Growth of Online Learning in 2020...

    Think for a moment about your phones, cars, tvs, and even furniture. What is a commonality among these devices? Change. These, among most other aspects of society, have changed and advanced over time. We have gone from mass producing factories that design for the majority to niche businesses that customize products to the needs of each customer. Clothes are tailored to unique styles, phones have individual customer support, and even our food is made to accommodate dietary restrictions. Why then, in an age of growth and innovation, is the education system stuck in the past? There is an ample amount of research-based evidence supporting different learning styles and yet we continue to reinforce education for the masses instead of the individual. While devastating, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced major academic adjustments. Schools across the country are transforming in person classes to online formats and re-assessing the necessary time commitment and environment needed to fulfill graduation requirements. There have been many debates over the credibility of online school programs. But over the past few years, more and more studies on the effectiveness of online platforms report their validity. Due to these results, top universities like Penn State, John Hopkins, and Harvard, to name a few, have made degrees attainable via distance learning. So, what are some of the benefits of online high school programs? #1: Flexible Schedule, Pace, and Access Colleges look for students who have many interests and are involved in multiple things. Online, students are able to work at times that are convenient for them, allowing them to pursue other passions and areas of interest throughout the day, this could be a sport, job, art, or service project. Students can work through classes at their own pace, instead of a set class time, spending more time on difficult material, and quickly moving through easier topics. Individual profiles allow students quick and easy access to any of their classes, teacher notes, video tutorials, and assignments- they never have to worry about missing notes or lectures, or leaving a needed book at school again! #2: More Class Options Colleges like to see challenging course loads and progress throughout high school years. With an online platform, students have access to hundreds of classes and electives that they wouldn’t at a normal school. This allows them to explore a variety of possibilities and/or specialize in an area they are already interested in pursuing. #3: Individualized Education Plans and Support Students design their own schedules and determine the amount of support they need per class. They also have control over how they learn and can put into practice their own individual learning styles. Online programs use multimedia content to present information which increase engagement and retention of course material.
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  • The Teenage Brain
    The Teenage Brain

    Our belief at Ethan Allen Prep is that students learn best when they are able to engage passionately with learning. One’s ability to maximize his or her learning stems from feeling positive about the school environment.  Is it meaningful work that I am engaged in?  Do I have strong relationships with teachers and fellow students?   Am I engaged in activities that nurture a healthy mind and body?  EAP creates a personalized environment that promotes meaningful work with the goal of mastering one’s objectives in the classroom, on the course, and in life.   We do this by removing the distractions that the world throws at teenagers today.  We recognize that the teenage brain has an advantage over the adult brain because it is still developing and learning. Therefore, we focus on the individual and allow the individual to focus on his or her goals. Suggested Reading: The Teenage Brain has the Advantage
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  • The Golf Performance Center Ridgefield, CT
    Talent vs Practice

    So, we have all been told at some point you didn’t have enough talent for something, singing, golf, math and so on.  Of course, this can be discouraging but does it mean you do not possess the gift of talent?  As I wrote about last week, talent is not the gift but the ability to develop is the real gift.  Unfortunately, we are often led to believe by some authority figure or “news” article that only those athletes born with a genetic code for superpower are able to reach the highest levels of their sport or that a superior thinker was born with a better brain who somehow breaks the code on the financial market.   “Magically” someone is just better than you at something, a savant in math has a superior brain, but this is not the case.  In studies done by researchers Happe and Vital at King’s College in London, they found that children who have autistic savant-like abilities are more likely to be more detail oriented and develop repetitive behaviors.  When an activity or subject that catches their attention can lead to an obsessive behavior around this interest. This allows them to become lost in their own world of discovery, leading to unimaginable skills for most to comprehend.   What was also found to be interesting in their study, when a non-autistic savant person found and engaged in their purposeful life, they too exhibited obsessive behavior and could develop far greater skills over their peers.  What does this tell us?  Again, this tells us the “gift” is not talent, it is the ability to develop!!   There is no “mystical or magical” way to be good or great at something.   The possibility comes from deep work, obsessive behavior, a passion that allows you to withstand the frustrations of learning.  Learning or developing for a deeper purpose than money, fame or peer satisfaction.   Golf is a sport that can be greatly satisfying and equally as frustrating!  If you are playing the game because you have a passion to master it, don’t put limits on the depths in which you work on it.  In the case of learning how to accomplish this, it starts with your passion for improving, knowing where you are, assessing your skill level, your physical abilities to spend in-depth practice sessions, understand the mental requirements, and maintain the best equipment for faster feedback.   If you strive to be the best at something like GOLF!, it will take an impressive amount of time and sustained energy. Much of this energy will be fueled by passion and a good diet!  If you are getting frustrated by your practice or scores this can be a good thing, frustration is an early sign of improvement, you are pushing your talent to the next level.  Continue your path, go deeper in your work or play, allow discovery to be a guide, making mistakes are critical at this point for your improvement, as a competitive golfer, tournaments are essential for development.  We understand that most golfers judge themselves based on their scores, this is a tough marker. I would say, if you are to judge yourself on your score understand, your score happened as a result of your preparation, therefore it would be better to assess yourself on how you prepared to play for a score.  Go deep into development, embrace the satisfaction of mastery, you will find your talent! Now that you are moving into “off” season mode, tune out results for the moment, make sure you are understanding how you will yield the best results due to your best preparation, diligence in developing the necessary skills for your best results.  Take the time to assess the 5 Elements required for your continued success, are you desiring to improve, do you have the right coaching or mentorship, are you physically able to do the things needed for improvement, are your mental skills strong enough, is your equipment where it needs to be.  Talent is overrated, it’s time to go to work, to practice and play obsessively if you want to be one of the best! Enjoy your journey!
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