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The teacher shortage is creating a troubling trend surrounding teacher PD and other professional development needs.

How to use micro-coaching for teacher PD


The teacher shortage is creating a troubling trend surrounding professional development

The United States is experiencing a national education shortage of teachers leaving the profession in droves, coined “The Great Resignation” due to high anxiety, burnout, safety concerns, low salaries, and challenging job demands. This shortage is further fueled by plummeting enrollment in teacher preparation programs.

The Wall Street Journal reported that at least 300,000 public school teachers and other staff left the field alone between February 2020 and May 2022. Recent McKinsey research shows that nearly one-third of U.S. K-12 educators are considering leaving their jobs.

While this situation creates immediate problems for schools, like hiring qualified teachers from a shrinking pool of candidates, it also creates secondary problems, like the troubling trend that the teacher shortage is creating surrounding professional development (PD).

Carving out time for PD can be extremely difficult for educators, especially when their district cannot offer that time during the school day or as an option for time off. Teachers are also already overwhelmed with their work, so adding one more course or event to their calendars is challenging and sometimes not allowed. Yet, professional learning is critical to increasing student achievement by as much as 21 percentile points.

What is micro-coaching?

Micro-coaching is a workflow model that had its roots in business organizations pre-pandemic and has relevance for professional learning in schools. Micro-coaching is a form of coaching that involves brief, targeted, and focused interactions between a coach and an individual or a group. Micro-coaching aims to provide bite-sized, actionable learning, feedback, and support to help individuals improve specific skills, behaviors, or performance.

Unlike traditional coaching in education, which typically involves longer sessions through coaching cycles or extended professional development sessions, micro-coaching can support and improve teaching practices such as classroom management, student engagement, questioning techniques, or feedback delivery.

How to implement micro-coaching?

Many instructional coaches or districts are utilizing micro-coaching to provide educators with the tools and skills necessary to grow.  Here are several ways to create short sessions during the week for teachers to learn and develop their skills without a huge time commitment.

  1. Explainer videos: Instructional coaches create short explainer videos to provide teachers targeted feedback on specific aspects of their instruction. These videos might focus on topics such as classroom management, questioning techniques, or the use of technology in the classroom. The coach creates a video using a screencasting tool (i.e., Loom, Screencastify, Screencast-O-Matic).
  2. Tutorials: Instructional coaches create short tutorials to help teachers develop new skills or strategies through video recordings or interactive online modules. The coach can provide step-by-step guidance, model effective teaching techniques, and offer feedback.
  3. Mini one-on-one sessions: Instructional coaches conduct brief one-on-one coaching sessions with teachers to provide targeted feedback on specific aspects of their instruction. These sessions are conducted virtually or in person and focus on a particular skill or strategy. The coach provides guidance, answers questions, and models effective teaching techniques.
  4. Self-reflection prompts with classroom videos or written material: Instructional coaches provide teachers with self-reflection prompts to encourage them to reflect on their instruction and identify areas for improvement. Coaches respond to either classroom videos or written materials submitted by the teacher through a professional learning platform (i.e., Sibme) and provide feedback on the teacher’s reflections to guide them in developing an improvement plan. Learn more about the power of video in the classroom here.
  5. Peer feedback and self-reflection: Instructional coaches facilitate peer feedback among teachers in their district by conducting peer feedback sessions, creating structured feedback protocols, and providing opportunities for reflection and feedback through video.
  6. Mini webinars: Instructional coaches conduct mini webinars to provide targeted professional development to teachers. These webinars focus on a specific skill or strategy in a short, digestible format. The coach offers learning, guidance, modeling, and feedback during the webinar.

What are some benefits of micro-coaching?

There are several benefits of micro-coaching to both the coach and the teacher.

  1. Targeted improvement and improved performance: Micro-coaching provides targeted, individualized support to help teachers improve skills critical to effective teaching and learning.
  2. Real-time feedback: This allows the teacher to make immediate adjustments and quickly see their changes’ impact.
  3. Increased self-awareness: The teacher gains a deeper understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement through feedback and self-reflection.
  4. Increased job satisfaction: By providing targeted support and feedback, micro-coaching helps teachers feel more supported and valued, which may increase job satisfaction and retention.

What are some challenges of micro-coaching?

While there are benefits to micro-coaching, there also are some possible challenges.

  1. The coach’s skill: Micro-coaching can be inconsistent if coaches do not have the training, experience, or skills to coach individuals and effectively create high-quality resources and professional learning.
  2. The teacher’s mindset: Some teachers may be resistant to feedback, unable or unwilling to self-reflect accurately, or may find it difficult to accept and act on areas for improvement.
  3. Time constraints: Micro-coaching requires dedicated time for observation, feedback, and follow-up, which can be challenging to schedule.
  4. Limited impact: Micro-coaching may have little effect if the teacher does not have the time, resources, or support needed to implement the changes.

The keys to successful micro-coaching involve providing quality, bite-sized learning experiences, modeling, targeted feedback, and teacher guidance. By incorporating various micro-coaching strategies, instructional coaches and districts can support teachers’ growth and development and enhance student learning and achievement in their district.

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