Iowa Online AP Academy Mentors: Advice and Resources

Welcome to another exciting year of IOAPA courses! We know there is a lot going on this time of year, so we gathered up some resources and advice to kick off the IOAPA year all in one place so you can check it out now and refer back anytime.

Advice from IOAPA Mentors:
In a survey at the end of last year, we asked mentors what advice they would give new mentors and site coordinators. Here are some of the most common pieces of advice and recommendations that both new and returning mentors may appreciate.

  • Meet face-to-face with students regularly. Several responders suggested scheduling meetings once per week to check in, discuss grades and progress, and answer student questions.
  • Establish methods of communicating with students between meetings. A few responders reported using text messaging as the best way for them and their students. The specific method used may differ, but the important thing is determining what works best for you and your students.
  • Get familiar with the course vendor’s system before you jump in with students. Whether you’re using Apex or Edhesive, there are idiosyncrasies within the systems that are important to be aware of. Multiple IOAPA mentors noted the importance of reading and watching all support materials and orientation videos, and some also suggest being present while students watch their orientation videos so you can see the student side as well.
  • Communicate regularly with parents/guardians. One person reported using the automated email feature to provide weekly updates, and many mentors indicated the importance of ensuring that parents/guardians are involved in the process.
  • Plan for more support than you think your students might need. Several mentors noted that it can be difficult to get students back on track if they fall behind, so they suggest overestimating the amount of support students will need. It’s easier to fade the support as the year goes on than to catch a student up if they get off track early.
  • Arrange times that you can be present while the student does their coursework. This can be difficult to schedule, but several mentors observed that it can be helpful. One person reported that sitting in on the quizzes early in the year helped them help students become acquainted with the Apex language and system. Another noted that consistent appointments for coursework can facilitate scheduling proctored exams.
  • Have back-up plans. Seek another adult in the building who can give students access to their work space or materials or unlock tests in Apex if you are absent, away from the building or unreachable for any reason.
  • Seek help when you need it, and encourage your students to do the same. IOAPA staff are here to help with any questions you have, or to find answers if we don’t know immediately. The course instructors are another great resource if your students are having trouble with course material (particularly if it’s a subject area with which you are less familiar). Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
  • Be your students’ cheerleader! Provide your students with all the support and encouragement they need to be successful, and have conversations with them about what they need to do to achieve that success. One mentor said, “Many of my students have never had to work so hard.” Recognize that students’ self-confidence may be tested, and that they may need more support in nonacademic domains than academic ones.

For additional resources, check out our previous post on this topic here or peruse the IOAPA Mentor Handbook. Do you have more suggestions for other mentors? Share them with us on Twitter using #IOAPA. You can also follow us on Twitter: @kflanaryIOAPA and @belinblank.

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