An Effective, Multi-tiered Support System for Student-Athletes
What’s your impression of online learning? Is it…
- Hours of video calls
- A student alone in a room with a computer
- Students emailing teachers with questions
- Poor technology
- Lack of community and support
Now reimagine online learning. Picture a student who has a single point of contact they know and trust. A student working on a group project with their peers in a video breakout room. A chat system with subject teachers, learning coaches, and college counselors available at the click of a button. Technology built to support a student in the way they need to be supported. Drop in clinics, study sessions, clubs, life skills, field trips, and more. Can you see it?
USPA set out to do things differently because students deserve the best when it comes to support in an online learning environment. Online is not the most traditional way to learn and USPA understands that support is imperative to student success. That is why there are multiple levels of support with many outlets for students to feel supported, have a community, and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Support is divided into three categories at USPA. Real-people, technology, and opportunities.
- Real people. Not a robot. Not an auto-response. Not a number in a digital crowd. From day one, students are assigned a learning coach who is the first point of contact. This is the person that the student and family get to know on a one-to-one basis. The learning coach knows the student’s sport, schedule, courses, goals, pet’s name, and more. They are available to adjust the student’s course schedule, pace, or pathway. Students meet with the learning coach weekly to assess where the student is in their courses, how they can prioritize and redirect when they get off track, direct them to extra help in a subject if they need it, see how the latest competition went, and offer any guidance along the way. The subject teachers are available to help when there is a difficult topic or a confusing theory and they need some extra 1:1 assistance. Teachers can walk through a math problem, help with writing and editing, explain an historical event in more detail, help brainstorm ideas, guide students in study techniques, and more. Then there are the college counselors. They know each student’s goal and help guide through course selection, college essays, applications, NCAA rules, and general advice for future goals, whether college, career, or Olympic. Beyond these individual, real-people, students have access to their peer group which consists of athletes and performers around the world. Student-athletes work together in study groups, group projects, clubs, and events. USPA even offers student mentors. An experienced USPA student is paired with an incoming student to help them learn the ropes. They create the community amongst themselves that USPA fosters through the latest technology.
- Technology. Each real person at USPA uses the latest technology to create a supportive, user-friendly, collaborative environment. The USPA curriculum is designed to keep students engaged in the course. Students, parents, teachers, and learning coaches can see whether the student is on track, behind, or ahead in each subject from the dashboard. Video meetings are used for meetings with learning coaches, group projects, breakout sessions, live field trips, and more. If a student is working on their courses and needs to ask a quick question, there is a collaborative chat app available. Whether they chat with their teacher, learning coach, or peers, they are able to do so in a safe, quick, and easily accessible environment. The leadership team at USPA meets weekly and discusses new and unique ways students can use technology to make learning easier, more accessible, and more supportive.
- Opportunities. There are endless opportunities available for student-athletes to find support at USPA. Field trips are designed to support the curriculum and reinforce lessons. Students can gather digitally to see historical monuments around the world, learn about a new geography, or experience a culture different from their own. Teachers and learning coaches host drop-in clinics, study sessions, seminars, and more for students to be able to ask questions, learn in a group, or brainstorm ideas. These life skills are important to learn early and an example of one of the additional opportunities USPA offers. Teaching life skills courses beyond the traditional curriculum offers something unique to each student. Learning time-management, personal finance, life-balance, career exploration, and more helps students to be prepared for life after school.
Student-athletes are enveloped in support at USPA. With real people, technology, and many unique opportunities, as one USPA parent said to us, it is nearly impossible for students to fall through the cracks!