What Can Coaches Do During School Closures?

March 20, 2020

 

Instructional coaches thrive on supporting colleagues, students, and community members. As schools transition to online learning and home learning, there are a lot of unknowns. Coaches might wonder about how to provide support and ponder concrete ways to make a real difference. Here are five suggestions to get your wheels spinning:

 

1. Vet and compile the incredible resources people are generously posting. While we know that resources do not equal teaching, they sure can be helpful during this transition! As you sift through the plethora of opportunities presenting themselves, here are a few questions you may want to keep in mind:

  • Which resources are truly free?

  • Are they engaging and developmentally appropriate?

  • Is there a balance between what feels more “assigned” and what feels more interactive?

  • What resources are aligned with the units currently underway in classrooms?

  • Are there high-quality, accessible resources that provide an opportunity to review concepts or expose students to something new?

  • How can we balance our offerings: those requiring technology and those that don’t?

 

2. Dedicate yourself to one or two grades, departments, or topics each day of the week. Start by reaching out to ask teachers what they want and need. (Some coaches have been facilitating virtual coffee chats in the mornings). Be prepared to offer practical suggestions, just in case making another decision feels too overwhelming for colleagues. Then, plan a schedule. Follow up to explain how and when you will provide the requested support. For example, on Monday, make yourself available to kindergarten and grade one teachers, on Tuesday, support grade two and three teachers, etc. If you are comfortable, forge needed connections by sharing your cell or setting up a virtual hangout. Spend some of your remaining work hours curating and creating high-quality materials for students in those grades. Finally, share the fruits of your labor.

 

3. Think beyond the teachers and students. Whereas many older students are well-versed in Google Classroom and other online platforms, caregivers may not be. For students in the younger grades, all virtual learning can feel new. If permitted by your district, create your own step-by-step tutorials and post on a school/district website. If this is not an option, find and share links to videos that are already made (like this one). Also, recognize that homes may not have academic learning on their mind. Generate lists of non-academic ways to spend time at home, using commonly available supplies. Last week, Katie Egan Cunningham posted ideas categorized by themes: CONNECT, CREATE, MOVE, and DISCOVER. I have been using these four brilliant, joyful categories again and again. Be on the lookout: I also wrote a blog that will be posted soon!

 

4. Make time to engage in professional study. Most of the coaches I know (myself included) seek and soak up every learning opportunity. Take this time to catch up on the blog or podcast you love. You could also revisit “old favorite” professional texts or work your way through that new stack that is likely sitting on your bedside table. Many of us have been recommending passion projects for students, heed this advice! Your reading, viewing, and listening will prepare you to continue to provide nuanced and insightful support to your colleagues.

 

5. Connect with other coaches! If you are craving more community, we have you covered! You might request to join the Gravity Goldberg LLC’s Coaching Co-op Facebook Group or join us for our team’s free office hours that are being held daily over the coming weeks. Additionally, we are hosting a virtual Coaching Co-op meeting on Wednesday, March 25th from 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM EST. This is a free opportunity to connect, hear from others, and brainstorm practical and usable next steps. Click here to register.

 

What else have you been doing to support school communities? What are you thinking you may try? We are better together! Please comment on this blog with other suggestions or post ideas on Twitter, tagging @drgravitygllc.  Thanks for all you do!

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