Welcome back to TeachBoost's Coaching Roundup. We know many schools and districts around the country are working extremely hard to continue services for their students in new ways. We hope this list of best practices and tips for distance learning can help, along with reflections from your peers on their experiences so far.
Kim Cofino offers six tips for making the transition to online learning from her experiences over the past few weeks.
"Of course, as soon as we realize we need to start distance learning, the stress of figuring out how it will work, what tools we will use, and when we will teach begins. Initially all of these conversations center around tools and structure: what can we use to video conference, how can I get my students to share their learning, when are we going to expect them to be online? . . . Instead of stressing too much about finding the perfect tool, use the tools you and your students are already familiar with. Don't start anything new on the first day. The simplest solution is probably best."
Bartholomew Miller shares the positives and negatives of his experience working remotely and why it's important for educators to stay connected with one another during this time of change.
"A distance learning plan must be an agreed set of principles and expectations, but not a schedule. Everyone needs to react to a public health emergency in different ways, and school-at-home cannot be the center of our lives in a crisis. One size cannot fit all. . . . Teachers will be developing entirely new sets of capacities all at once, essentially and instantly starting a new career as an e-learning professional. Everything needs to be scaled down for ease and flexibility of use."
Christine Weis emphasizes the importance of staying connected with students during social distancing and provides free resources—daily schedules, learning websites, and more—for when remote learning is not a support reality.
"Teachers (like parents) have both personal and professional responsibilities to consider, like child care, teaching from home, taking care of elderly relatives, having enough of what they need for their families over the next few weeks as we socially distance ourselves from large crowds in school and in our community. . . . If we cannot provide in-class instruction for our students and remote learning is not the reality, then there are certainly other ways we can stay connected with our students and suggest some ideas and free resources that they can utilize."
Manage your coaching cycles remotely!
TeachBoost Coach helps you manage your coaching cycles, goals, meetings, and evidence. It works on any device, making it easy to take pictures and videos in the classroom directly connected to your coaching cycles. We're looking for instructional coaches to pilot the tool and provide feedback this Fall!
Stephanie Affinito explains the benefits of a virtual coaching cycle and why those who don't have in-person coaching opportunities should explore online options.
"With the help of virtual learning platforms, instructional coaching can be done online and offers educators a deeper level of support for their teaching. While virtual coaching shouldn't replace in-person coaching efforts wholesale and while there are many benefits to working with a coach in person, it can be used to complement current instructional practices or provide a new avenue to coaching when an in-person program or coach isn't available."
Amy Foley reflects on her experiences—both personally and professionally—working outside of her building and the social PLNs she has leaned on for support.
"If your school is preparing for the possibility of distance learning, it is important to develop a proactive communication plan to ensure regular communication with parents and faculty. (For international schools, frequent communication to support and reassure faculty is crucial.) Effective two-way communication can be achieved by leveraging key partnerships, such as PTSA and faculty reps. As with students, communication to parents and faculty should always be clear and concise. (Particularly at a time when so much communication is written! It becomes exhausting.)"
Diane Sweeney offers a few strategies for coaches to take their work online and support teachers during the e-learning shift.
"The first few weeks of online teaching will feel a lot like the first few weeks of the school year. . . . During this time, coaches can help teachers design their coursework in the Learning Management System such as Google Classroom, Canvas, or Schoology. Being there as a thinking partner or resource may come in the form of virtual co-planning, organizing the online learning space, or helping teachers find online resources such as videos, tutorials, texts, etc."