“What made me change from the conventional setting to the online setting is that I wanted to have 1:1 opportunities with students all of the time. I also felt I was very limited by the four walls of the classroom.” – Michelle Licata, USA
Whenever we bring innovative educators together at any event, there is no doubt that they will provide a fresh perspective. Our recent Global Forum in Miami did not disappoint, and I was fortunate to get a few minutes with online educator Michelle Licata, who spoke to the group about the state of “virtual” education. Licata talked about the kinds of students who are benefitting from an all-online education – not just those with learning disabilities, but some who are pursuing time-consuming dreams, like athletes and performers. Given that she was named her school’s Teacher of the Year (and a finalist for U.S. Online Teacher of the Year), I was anxious to hear more.
Michelle Licata was a traditional teacher in a traditional classroom, with all of the associated frustrations. Those frustrations inspired her to make the move to Florida Virtual School (FLVS), a public agency with the ambitious mission to “transform education worldwide — one student at a time.” There, she’s thrived — along with her students.
“Online teachers have been traditional school teachers,” says Licata, “what made me change from the conventional setting to the online setting is that I wanted to have 1:1 opportunities with students all of the time. I also felt I was very limited by the four walls of the classroom.”
With those limitations removed (along with the bureaucracy), Licata feels she’s become a better teacher. She’s particularly excited about the opportunities online learning affords to customize education based on each student’s needs. She talks about a “growth mindset” – the product of allowing students to re-do work until they master it. Once they do master a skill, she tells us, “We can assess them – when they’re ready.”
For teachers working in traditional settings, Licata advises “don’t be afraid to take chances.” Making online learning part of the overall mix of classroom activities is key – leading to a blended learning environment. She notes that technology enables both learning and assessment to be customized, making personalized learning attainable and helping educators make a real difference – one student at a time.
Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Michelle Licata.
About Michelle Licata, Lead Educator, Florida Virtual School Teacher of the Year, 2013 National Online Teacher of the Year Finalist
Florida Virtual School
National Board Certified Teacher Michelle Licata has been a teacher, curriculum writer, and curriculum specialist and teacher leader for 17 years. She strives to make genuine connections with her students and has taught in traditional, online and blended environments. Dr. Licata earned her Doctorate Degree from University of Florida in Educational Leadership, her Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership, her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling, and her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science Education. Dr. Licata has also worked as a mental health counselor in private practice. Dr. Licata was named Florida Virtual School’s Teacher of the Year and is a 2013 National Online Teacher of the Year finalist.