In this Q&A, we learn more about Owl Professor Laurie Alsobrook, who channels her creative skills to keep students engaged and on track.
About Ms. Alsobrook:
“I grew up in a very small town in the Ouachita Mountains, located in southwestern Arkansas. Later I attended the University of Texas at Arlington, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art and a master’s of education degree in curriculum. Today I teach science and art at iUniversity Prep, where I’ve been on the faculty since 2013.”
Science and art - so you’re kind of like daVinci?
“Well, that’s a bit of a stretch. But he’s certainly a fascinating historical figure who I have always admired. During the Renaissance, artists like Leonardo carefully observed the natural world in order to add more realism to their artwork. Artists were actually the first scientists!”
How do you handle a “hands-on” class like art in an online school environment?
“We definitely have to be creative! Here’s how I make it happen: I divide my live lessons into three sections: A discussion of art history and technique, a student art showcase, and then a webcam session where students follow along to practice different techniques. The showcase is usually the kids’ favorite part. I give them ‘art problems’ to solve using different mediums, and they get to show and talk about their results, plus look at other students’ works.
What do you like most about being an online teacher?
“The kids - of course! iUniversity Prep students’ interests and talents are so varied and impressive, and they come from so many walks of life.
I also enjoy the flexible schedule that online teaching offers. But sometimes it’s challenging, too (in a good way), because you’re always ‘on’. Many of my students travel or train during the day for their extra-curricular activities - and some of them already have professional careers. I have to be ready for tutoring when they need me, even if it’s at night or during the weekend.”
What does a typical day look like for you?
“Just like I tell my students, I find it’s best to have a routine even though we have a flexible schedule. So throughout my week, there are times each day that are scheduled in advance, while other time blocks are scheduled more loosely, based on what is needed for that day specifically.
I usually begin each morning by catching up on email, then I will have synchronous live lessons. After that, I get grading out of the way so that I can work on building the materials I use to supplement my instruction, all while working around my tutoring schedule. Tutoring takes place in either my virtual classroom or at a local library for face-to-face tutorials - and a few times a year, I invite students to join me on field trips. I also hold office hours each week so that students can access additional time for support and questions.”
If you could only impart one piece of wisdom to your students, what would it be?
“The world is amazing. Slow down and look closely at something every day. Be present.”
What advice do you have for online parents and students?
“As I mentioned earlier - develop a regular routine. It’s okay to deviate from it, but you should always use a set routine as your starting point. It will help keep you from getting lost and getting behind.”
Who has inspired you along the way?
“Certainly I have been inspired by my parents, who are both teachers. Also, my third grade teacher was a great inspiration to me. I was a good student, but didn’t have a lot of confidence at that time because I was somewhat ‘different’. She allowed me the freedom to explore the things I wanted to explore - there were always creative centers and projects happening in her classroom. As a teacher, I try to recreate that kind of exciting environment for my students.”
Tell us something about you that not everyone knows.
“I am a first generation American on my dad’s side - he grew up in Nazi-occupied Holland in the 1950s. My mom is second generation American - her family came from Czechoslovakia.”
What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?
“I like to knit, crochet, and paint. My husband and I also have a dog, a Belgian Malinois, that we are doing obedience trials with. She’s won four titles so far!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Kaye Rogers received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a minor in Statistics from the University of North Texas. She earned her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Tarleton State University. A life-long Texan, she has taught math and science in public schools and also in Spain. She has worked in public education for over 18 years, where she is committed to innovation and choice for families. She has opened three choice schools and is currently the Director of Virtual Learning at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, where she oversees their state-wide virtual school and blended schools program.
Learn more about iUniversity Prep and see if online learning is right for your child. Check us out at www.iuniversityprep.org or give us a call at 817-305-4895.
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