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Virtual Coaching

Virtual Coaching: Not Just for Personal Training

One of the ways I like to destress and demonstrate self-care is by taking group exercise classes and going to the gym. Due to quarantines and social distancing restrictions, many gyms closed, and numerous personal trainers and gyms now offer virtual classes, training and coaching through Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or other virtual platforms. I’ve participated in both live and asynchronous group exercise classes and find them very effective and valuable. It got me thinking about how coaches and leaders can still provide effective coaching to support teachers virtually.

This thinking was solidified last week while virtually coaching a teacher about chunking directions and checking for understanding by asking students to unmute or share in the chat. One hundred percent of students responded in the chat, and every student was able to answer the check for understanding correctly. Several things ensured our coaching was successful; try to incorporate these habits into your own coaching:

  • Have an agenda and meet with your teacher ahead of time to discuss goals and what they want to get out of coaching.
    • Make sure the agenda includes enough time for checking in and confirming your teacher is doing OK as a person!
  • Use live virtual coaching to help prep and rehearse lessons.
    • Have access to lesson plans and student data and review them in advance so you are not spending time in the meeting reviewing them (this means you need a system for folks to submit, and you need to budget time before the meeting to review the lessons).
      • Make sure teachers bring their plans as well.
    • Hold time during the prep to ensure lessons are aligned with assessments/exit tickets.
    • Check out this resource for planning focused instruction if you are coaching direct instruction.
    • Hold time to model parts of the lesson, including best practices from the No-Nonsense Nurturer Four-Step Model (link to white board with PD, N, AS, BR).
    • Save time for multiple rounds of practice! This is a sticky point normally because practice is awkward, but practice also helps us prepare for the actual lesson and game time, so you’ve got to do it. Let teachers know it’s coming by listing it on the agenda, and normalize it by acknowledging it’s a little awkward. (Remember, it’s more awkward to not be prepared for a virtual lesson!) Allow at least 710 minutes to get a few rounds of practice. Not sure what to practice? Ask the teacher to pick a sticky spot or practice what you have been focusing on during the prep session in order to build muscle memory before the lesson is recorded or goes live! Take it to the next level by giving quick feedback after each round (see below for tips on AIC feedback).
  • Determine in the conference if you will be giving feedback in the moment. If you are joining a synchronous lesson, be prepared to give in-the-moment feedback. You could utilize the private chat, call your coachee on the phone or text them. Definitely practice this in the session.
    • Be prepared to view and provide your coachee with quick feedback either verbally in your next meeting, in an email or a text if you are watching a recorded lesson. You can also have your teachers record videos and share with you on sites like Torsh Talent, and you can leave time-stamped feedback in order to prep for the debrief. A simple way to do this is to use AIC feedback. This stands for Affirm, Impact, Challenge. What that can sound like is:
      • Affirm: It was effective when you told students the purpose of what they were learning during your lesson.
      • Impact: Students understand why they should pay attention and why this is important to their life.
      • Challenge: I challenge you to give students precise directions for what they should be doing during the direct instruction. For example, “At a voice level 0, when I write on the virtual white board, you write in your guided notes so you are able to do this on your own during collaborative learning.”
  • Do a virtual walk of your online classrooms (check out CT3 Associate Meaghan Loftus’s blog on Leading in a Virtual Space) in order to keep a pulse on how folks are doing, leave feedback, and gather trends on instruction that you could use for virtual PD.

Have you tried coaching your teachers virtually? Or have you participated in a virtual coaching session? What worked well? What tips can you share? Please comment below to let us know best practices and resources to share!

By Leah Pearson, Associate, CT3 and Heidi Towne, Associate, CT3

Our self-paced No-Nonsense Nurturer online course is taken by thousands of educators every year. Click here to access hours of content, classroom resources, and hundreds of videos, including interviews with real teachers on how they build relationships.

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