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Five Steps to Powerful Virtual Coaching for Teachers

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Guest post by Lauren Vargas, instructional coach and coach trainer for EdConnective

After finishing a six-week cycle of virtual instruction, a teacher recently told me it was one of the most valuable professional develoment experiences she had had. As her coach, I met with her twice weekly through a video call after having observed lessons she recorded and uploaded of herself with her students. The teacher saw dramatic growth in her students' cognitive engagement and in her practices as an educator through coaching.

Virtual instructional coaching can offer powerful (and affordable) teacher feedback and development, with growth seen in the classroom over a short period of time. While methods for providing this virtual coaching can vary, the strategy typically involves recorded classroom observations viewed by an instructional coach and coaching conversations by video calls.

Virtual instructional coaching uses the same types of practices that a face-to-face instructional coach might use. However, several distinct methods need to be employed to make the virtual experience effective.  

Here are some tips for virtual instructional coaches on how to collect the right data from video observations:

1. When teachers set up video cameras in their classrooms, make sure they arrange the camera to record both themselves and as many students as possible. This allows you to collect data on both teacher and student actions and words.

2. Make sure to approach each observation with a focus area (i.e. behavior management, questioning, etc.).  This helps to make sure you don't miss the forest for the trees.

3. Have a conversation with the teacher before the first observation to ensure that you have a focus for the first observation. Subsequent observations should focus on data collection about the topic or strategy from the previous coaching session. 

4. Record data on student engagement at regular intervals to look for trends in the lesson. How many kids are doing what the teacher asked them to do? What types of off-task behaviors are present? 

Bonus Tip: Depending on the lesson, you can ask the teacher to scan or photograph student work (usually a sample from two high, two middle, and two low performing students works well) and send it to you.

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