First Year Reflection

First Year Reflection

The end of the year is filled with celebrations and reflections as we reach the last few days of the first school year of Silicon Valley Flex Academy. The inquiries from peers have been flooding in, with the usual question: “How was it?”

This past weekend provided the perfect moments for me to reflect on that question. My youngest just graduated High School and as I sat through two days of parent orientation at her future college the importance of the work we are doing in changing the educational landscape through blended learning struck me so clearly. This millennium generation needs to be prepared for a college and life experience that is so significantly different than that of the previous generations, and one that our traditional school models have yet to embrace. The need is more significant than moving away from teaching to the test, giving students 21st century skills, increasing math skills, or creating global thinkers. We need to prepare them to be independent, goal driven, and to take control of their learning. To do this, we need to meet the learner where they are, not where the curriculum says they should be.

At SV Flex, our students have gone from waiting to be told to learn; to controlling when to learn and at what pace they learn. They use their curriculum guides to create their own path for the day, the week, and even the term. The students who prefer math in the morning can do math, the students who like to study history in the morning can study history. They have taken control of their learning.

The teachers use data to guide what happens in the break-out session. So, the student who is struggling in math gets the help that they need and the student who loves history can meet with their teacher to debate political viewpoints. Teachers teach and students learn. The curriculum that we use from K12 delivers a rigorous and rich content. Students track their progress daily and they always know how they are doing. They know when they are behind or what needs to be done to get ahead. They are becoming independent learners and learning to set goals.

Blended learning is not just a different way of delivering content and instruction, but it also develops the foundational skill set that our millennium students need to be successful in college and beyond.

So back to the question: “How was it?” It was exhausting and hard and the most exciting work I have ever done.

Written by Jean Southland

Head of school at Silicon Valley Flex Academy


  1. Jean, you have a fantastic perspective on the value of a blended learning model that I don’t think is necessarily widespread, at least not in more teacher-dependent elementary classrooms. Do you have more posts online about your model and process? I’d love to read them! Congrats on your hard work this year.

    Aspire Public Schools Blended Learning Assistant

  2. Great post. Can’t wait to come down next year an see this in action!


    Innovation Manager, KIPP Bay Area Schools

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