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  • Writer's pictureAaron Daffern

3 reasons to use a virtual instructional coach

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

In my nearly 20 years experience as a teacher, principal, curriculum coordinator, and now full-time coach, I've noticed that teachers tend to fall into three disproportionate categories. A small percent of them are really bad, damaging to students both academically and emotionally. An equally small percent of them are all-stars, shining so bright that they tend to promote to higher positions that allow them to share their light with others.

And then there are the rest.

Most schools have someone on staff serving as some kind of coach or facilitator. With schools limited in resources (and honestly, which school ISN'T limited in resources), how they allocate the time of that coach or facilitator is vital. With a majority of teachers falling into the broad category of good, that is where the coach should be spending his or her energy. But there's typically a problem with that.

Some principals want coaches to work with the really bad teachers. As a former principal, I'd caution against that. If a teacher is hurting children, get rid of him or her. The amount of effort needed to move a teacher from really bad to good is herculean. Instead, coaches should spend their time with the good teachers. But that's assuming, of course, that the coach has time to work with teachers. Many coaches are pseudo-administrators, assisting with textbooks, lunch duty, after school clubs, test development, and data disaggregation, among other things.

This is where virtual instructional coaching comes in.

Reason #1: Individualized approach

Virtual coaching isn't affected by the day-to-day needs of a school. Virtual coaches won't be pulled to make copies for a third grade benchmark or develop the next round of common assessments. Virtual coaches have one task and that's to work with a good teacher and make him or her an all-star. Virtual coaches can drill down to the nuts and bolts of a content area, whether it be phonics and phonemes or middle school reading comprehension strategies.

Reason #2: The students deserve better

Teaching is like treading water in a fast moving current. Just trying to stay still means you're being pulled down stream. Some good teachers are born to teach and, with enough experience and the right circumstances, will fight against the current and become all-stars. But what about the rest? As a school leader, are you satisfied with the current level of teaching your classrooms? Are you confident that, left alone, all your good teachers will naturally evolve into all-stars?

Students coming to school with gaps in language, learning, exposure, self-regulation, and emotional stability. They don't need average instruction; they need excellence. To move the dial on test results and accountability measures, teaching must improve. If nothing changes at your school next year, will teaching improve on its own? An intervention is in order.

Reason #3: Virtual coaching is cost effective

Maybe you can't afford to reallocate the duties of your current reading or math coach to spend more time coaching teachers. Perhaps your current coach only specializes in certain grade levels or subject areas but not all. Or maybe you don't even have a coach and hiring one is not in the budget.

This is where virtual instructional coaching comes in.

Virtual coaching works on an individual basis. Rather than waiting until your school has the funds to hire a full-time coach, have your teacher work with a professional coach and life-long educator to improve his or her craft. Your students and teachers will thank you for it.

How it works

Using the online hosting platform, the teacher works with a virtual coach to set an instructional goal for the semester, determine markers that will be used as evidence of success, and implement an agreed-upon strategy. The teacher and coach collaborate in six coaching sessions throughout the semester, each consisting of a 20-minute video of teaching uploaded by the teacher, separate video annotations by both the coach and teacher looking for evidence, and a post-video conference.

Watch the short video below to see how the platform can revolutionize virtual instructional coaching for your school.

Your virtual instructional coach

All that's left is meeting your virtual instructional coach, and that's me! I'm a life-long educator living in Ft. Worth, TX. I'm an author of several books on student engagement, a trainer of schools and districts across the country, and dedicated to coaching. I truly believe that the answer to many issues facing schools today is improved teaching and that improved teaching comes through coaching. If you would like to learn more about me and how I can bring virtual coaching to your school, click here.

Why wait until you have the money to hire a full-time coach? Why try to reallocate the time of your current coach when he or she already has too much to do? Bring in a specialist to work with your good teachers one-on-one. Your students (and teachers) will thank you! If you would like to learn more about utilizing virtual instructional coaching, including costs, click here.

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