ELF Subs

The ELF Model

There is a long history of school districts trying to improve substitute teachers’ ability to deliver core instruction in an efficient and cost-effective manner, but the structure is fundamentally flawed. Given today’s supply-demand imbalance of substitute teachers, coupled with the rise of blended learning, for the first time ever school districts can sustainably solve the substitute teacher challenge.

Using the ELF substitute service delivery model, when teachers are absent, an “ELF” now greets students in a collaborative learning space. We don’t mean the small mischievous pointy-eared fairy-tale type, nor the character played by Will Ferrell in the film of the same title. Our “ELF” is an Electronic Learning Facilitator.

An ELF is a full-time, licensed educator, who is trained in the delivery of online instruction. He works collaboratively with classroom teachers across grades and subjects to ensure continuity of instruction in a digitally-rich online format. The ELF also works collaborates with technology specialists to modify lessons to optimize their accessibility for students. When a teacher is absent, an ELF can step in and deliver the instructional content so that no class time is lost. The ELF empowers students to set the pace and path of their own learning.

The ELF model is delivered in a blended learning environment where students from multiple classes in different subject areas and grade levels use devices such as Chromebooks and iPads to access the digital lessons their regular classroom teachers built.

The ELF model produces higher levels of learning-engagement than when substitutes are leading class. Students feel increased ownership and agency over their own learning. Teachers know that when they return from an absence their students are better prepared for class with no loss of continuity of daily instruction. Teachers are able to rejoin their classes as if they had not missed any time with their students.

The ELF model also builds a culture of collaboration between classroom teachers and the ELF around student learning. Because ELFs are part of the full-time staff, they develop ongoing working relationships with both faculty and students. The use of online platforms, such as Google Apps for Education, further provide classroom teachers with the opportunity to monitor student progress in real-time and give their students immediate and meaningful feedback. And as a byproduct, your high school will now have a repository of on-demand, well-designed, highly engaging online lesson plans for future use.

Lastly, and for some most importantly, the ELF model is significantly more cost-effective than hiring per diem substitutes. Including startup costs for devices, the ELF model shows significant savings in expenditure on substitutes and other associated administrative costs such as recruitment, training and scheduling.

Click below to learn how the New York City Schools will be adopting the ELF Model beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.

Edweek Teacher Beat Article

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