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Caring, Coping, and Collaborating: Family-Teacher Engagement Through Calvert Learning Roles

Caring, Coping, and Collaborating: Family-Teacher Engagement Through Calvert Learning Roles

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that it truly does take a village to teach a child. Not only are Teachers going the extra mile as they adapt to delivering virtual lessons, but also the engagement of the parent, guardian, or caregiver plays a very different, yet equally valuable role.

Edmentum’s Calvert Learning K-5 digital curriculum has provided many schools and districts with the opportunity to work together with families and support Students learning in a virtual environment. Calvert Learning allows educators to provide an online learning experience that doesn’t sacrifice quality while keeping Teachers at the heart of instruction in partnership with a Family Learning Guide.

Using a train analogy, the Student is the passenger who needs to get to the right learning destination. The Teacher is the engineer who determines the destination for the Student, the speed at which he or she travels, and the route he or she will take. The Family Learning Guide is the conductor in the train car with the passenger, who can best attend to immediate needs, such as checking tickets and getting off at the right stops. This analogy illustrates that curriculum, instruction, and decisions are the responsibility of the Teacher, who is aided by the daily management support of the Family Learning Guide.

Calvert Learning’s platform is called the Calvert Teaching Navigator (CTN). It is intentionally designed to support elementary Students and their Family Learning Guides as they engage with its digital-first curriculum. Let’s break down the key responsibilities of the Student, Teacher, and Family Learning Guides within Calvert Learning.

Student Role

It’s important to stay focused on who this curriculum is serving: the Student. The expectations of the Student change with age and grade level, which we will discuss later. To support elementary learners’ need for structure and guidance, Calvert Learning offers a linear and tightly paced progression through courses. Here is an overview of the expectations and responsibilities of the Student role:

  • Seek Teacher assistance to clarify learning
  • Ask a Family Learning Guide for directions and help
  • Pay attention to face-to-face instruction, understand expectations, and ask questions
  • Do one’s best work
  • Let the Teacher know if something is too hard or too easy
  • Review the dashboard for grades, progress, and Teacher feedback in writing or audio

Teacher Role

Just like in the traditional classroom, the Teacher role has the primary responsibility for delivering the Calvert Learning curriculum. The Teacher login within CTN grants Teachers access to progress-monitoring tools that help them provide accountability for Students as well as to direct individualized support and interventions. Let’s take a peek at how the Teacher role functions in partnership with the Calvert Learning curriculum:

  • Provide instruction for  skills and introduce literature
  • Customize lesson parts and provide modifications as needed
  • Monitor Student/class performance and progress
  • Reteach and clarify concepts
  • Introduce Project and Use for Mastery rubrics
  • Grade projects, unit quiz writing, and Use for Mastery writing, and provide feedback (audio or written)
  • Clarify daily expectations
  • Offer intervention and enrichment activities

Family Learning Guide Role

Parents, guardians, or family members who are serving as a Student’s Family Learning Guide have access to many tools to support their learners, including the CTN learning guide view of the curriculum. Every guardian’s circumstances vary, meaning that managing a Student’s virtual learning environment can be a major adjustment to a family’s daily routines hinging on the Student’s age, the guardian’s other responsibilities, the level of assistance the learner needs, and the number of daily hours a Student is expected to participate in the virtual classroom. While the role of the Teacher undoubtedly continues as the primary role in delivering your child’s daily lessons, a caretaker serves as additional support to keep younger learners on track.

Let’s look at the level of engagement of the Family Learning Guide role:

  • Preview/scan lesson parts and Teaching Notes daily
  • Support Student in navigating the curriculum
  • Monitor Student dashboard for performance, progress, and Teacher feedback
  • Familiarize oneself with projects
  • Review project and Use for Mastery rubrics
  • Communicate concerns and Student needs to the Teacher
  • For grades K–1: read aloud directions and some assessments

How Teachers and Family Learning Guides Partner to Engage Students

Calvert Learning is not meant to be implemented as a standalone digital learning system. Instead, it serves as a tool that supports Students and relies on both educators and families. It’s critical that Teachers and Family Learning Guides work together to help the Student develop a routine, provide guidance as the Student adapts to utilizing necessary technology and learning tools, and monitor Student progress. However, the degree to which the Teacher and the Family Learning Guide need to manage the Student’s routine, monitor progress, and provide guidance depends on the Student’s age and level of maturity.

Younger learners, especially those in grades K–2, will need much more direction, especially at first. They will need more frequent check-ins with their Family Learning Guide, and the learning guide and Teacher will need to communicate more often to ensure that the Student stays on track.

Students in grades 3–5 will likely need assistance early on but will be able to settle into their learning routine more quickly and require less monitoring from their Family Learning Guides than their younger counterparts. It’s important to remember, though, that older elementary Students will still need guidance, accountability, and support in order to be successful. 

The goal of education is a gradual release from Teachers to Students—within an instructional cycle and as Students age. Students naturally grow in independence as they grow, though the exact timing of steps toward independence certainly varies by child. Just like the Teacher, the Family Learning Guide is able to increasingly release responsibility for learning to the Student as the Student gets older—for example, with less frequent check-ins and without the need to aid in managing daily software usage. With a strong collaboration between Teachers and Family Learning Guides and well-established learning routines, K–5 Students can adapt to their new educational environment and continue to make learning gains during home learning.

As we grapple with the challenges created by COVID-19, we sometimes hear more cautionary tales from the news media than stories of hope and unsung heroes. We should take a moment to celebrate families and educators for their efforts to adapt to virtual learning and for their ongoing drive to engage and encourage their learners. So, here’s a heartfelt thanks to the heroes who do the hard work to make virtual learning happen daily, despite internet challenges and login emergencies and those who are tending to this nation’s most precious resource, our children. Thanks, educators and parents, for all you do!

For a deeper dive into the Calvert Learning roles, check out our Family Program Guide and Educator Program brochures!