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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
    Mechanics vs Foundation, which comes first? Understanding Function Dic...

    I know this sounds like an odd topic for golfers, but I believe that it is a valid and fun topic.  Many parents, players and coaches think that if you are not working on developing great golfing techniques then you cannot be a great golfer.  Well I’m not sure that is true but I do firmly believe that a player with more experiences in other sports has a better chance of developing golf skills and mastering them sooner than a player who has only played golf and only had lessons to “learn” how to play the game.  We talk to a lot of players and parents across the country and we often hear how they have started their son or daughter playing golf and taking lessons as early as 4 years old!  They proclaim this with a sense of honor that they are getting ahead of the curve on golf development.  As a parent, I get it!  We love to boast about our kids, thinking we are doing the right things to help them along or to get ahead of the “competition.” As you may know, junior golf is VERY competitive! Players and parents are relentless in the pursuit of perfection or college scholarship!  Just a hint to all those who believe this – LIFE is also competitive and unforgiving to those who are not prepared.  Unfortunately, parents frequently express the desire to get more “lessons” on swing mechanics for their junior golfer because at a young age they are not as good as another junior golfer. Or another parent has concerns that their child’s swing may be different or wrong. However, the most concerning comment is when parents see things on social media and think that because something works for a tour player it must be good for their kid.  WARNING: Kids are NOT merely small adults. They do not have anything wrong with them if they are struggling to win junior tournaments or because someone else hits it a little further than they do now!  Working on swing mechanics too early in order to gain a short- term result can be the most destructive thing to a developing junior athlete.  Due to so many physiological, neurological and cognitive changes adolescents go through, trying to perfect a golf swing will only stunt their long-term development. This was realized in the work I’ve done with psychologist Dr. Anders Ericsson, who has endorsed our philosophy of long term development as the best way for athletes to develop. He has spent his whole career researching to understand development and how someone becomes an expert in an area of practice.  His research shows that great achievers in life share common denominators – passion, deliberate practice, struggle, grit and perseverance.  Athletes need to start with basic foundational movements then work to integrate soft skills or performance skills relative to the sport or activity. Later in the development process athletes work to harden the skills necessary for mastery (swing mechanics once all other pieces are in place).  This process can take up to 20 years in golf because golfers are never hitting the same shot twice. The environment is always changing. This is something that most juniors and parents do not understand.  Being good on the driving range does not equate to playing good golf.  So, learning the skills necessary to be your best at golf is not just about swinging a golf club, chipping with a wedge or making putts with a putter.  These skills can be enhanced and probably better understood if they are taken into a context that most of us can understand based on past experiences.  Kicking a soccer ball is a great transferable skill to learn how to transfer energy in a golf swing or swinging a baseball bat or tennis racquet can help you learn the proper sequence of movement in a golf swing.  Rolling a bowling ball allows us to understand kinesthetic awareness or feel of distance. Another example we use is tossing a ball to someone or onto a green. This can help you understand how much energy is needed, again helping with kinesthetic awareness or feel.     If you are a junior golfer thinking you are falling behind in development because someone is doing something different than you are, understand what the difference is. Ask your coach, “Is this something necessary for me to be successful 5 or 10 years from now?”  Remember, the better the foundation the higher you can go with your skills and the more success you will have!  The next time you are practicing or playing a golf shot think about some of your experiences in other sports. “Feel” how it can relate to the task of hitting your shot.  What senses can you recall to help you with you golf skill building?  For the parents out there, if your son or daughter wants to continue playing other sports for a few more years (until about 15-16 they should be playing multiple sports) let them have fun. I promise it will only help with their golf skill building, interpersonal skills, self-confidence, understanding adversity and how to handle it, team work, problem solving and above all else exercise! As science has shown, the more and better your body moves the better our brains work!  All the skills needed to help prepare you for LIFE!     Enjoy Your Journey!
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