A sudden pivot to virtual learning means teachers need support--and even though they're virtual, eLearning coaches are stepping up to ensure instruction continues

5 impactful ways eLearning coaches can support teachers

A sudden pivot to virtual learning means teachers need support--and even though they're virtual, eLearning coaches are stepping up to ensure instruction continues

eLearning became a household term in the spring of 2020 when the classrooms moved from schools to living rooms. Just as teachers have had to adapt the way they deliver instruction to their students, those of us who have the role of coaching them need to adapt the ways we support teachers in our new roles as eLearning coaches.

It is imperative that best teaching and coaching practices continue to be implemented even when instruction is being delivered remotely.

Here are 5 ideas eLearning coaches can use to ensure teachers don’t just survive in a distance learning environment, but thrive in it:

1. Model lessons: One of the best practices you can implement as an eLearning coach is to provide model lessons. You can talk about all the latest and greatest best practices in the classroom, but teachers need to see them in action. They need to be able to make their own observations of how that strategy, tool, etc. could be used to improve student learning.

Related content: 3 ways to boost instructional coaching during COVID

My favorite model lesson to lead is BreakoutEDU, a spin on the popular escape rooms that students cannot get enough of! They are so busy having fun solving clues that they don’t even realize they are practicing those necessary life skills of collaborating, communicating, and thinking critically. Because games are available in digital format, you can give the classroom teacher a break, take over a Zoom meeting, and model leading a game. Tip: Practice leading with a few friends or family members!

2. Use a learning management system: In order for eLearning to be successful, it must be organized. Many districts have adopted learning management systems such as Canvas or Schoology. Others have found Google Classroom to be effective. You can offer technology tips, resources, and even lead an online course remotely via whichever platform your district has adopted. It is powerful when teachers can experience them as a student so they can see how easy it is to deliver content remotely and in an organized way. I recently created a “Best of Discovery Education” course within Google Classroom that provided teachers an opportunity to learn about my favorite resource! Not only were they given the chance to participate in meaningful digital discussions, complete and submit assignments, but they were able to see an exemplar example of how to set up an online course.

3. Continue providing professional development: Although we might not be able to offer in-person workshops and professional development sessions, eLearning coaches can still share the content with teachers and other school staff. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom or Google Meet allow us to still host those helpful before and after school training sessions. I have found that this model may even be better than my in-person sessions because they can be recorded and participants can learn at a time that is convenient for them. Many educational technology tools have their own on-demand certification courses. After I completed several of the EdPuzzle Teacher Certifications I advertised and encouraged classroom teachers to do the same, offering to support them as they worked through the courses.

4. Be available: If your day-to-day of working in a school is anything like mine, you know that teachers rely on us to answer in-the-moment questions and troubleshooting. Make sure your teachers know how to contact you when needed, whether it is providing your phone number or at least being responsive to emails. I have found that an online appointment scheduler such as Calendly can be very helpful so teachers can schedule a meeting with you at a mutually convenient time. For example, a teacher may have a question that doesn’t need answered right away, or maybe they’re ready to try a new tech tool and want you to help them prepare. I highlighted my Calendly link in my email signature so that all teachers have to do is search my name in their email server and click the link. If possible, offer appointment times beyond the scheduled school day, because we all know that’s when the majority of teacher preparation is taking place.

5. Offer lesson stems: Providing a high-quality eLearning lesson stem can be very valuable for teachers. They may be apprehensive about trying something new or unsure of where to start, so a lesson stem can spark some great ideas. Try to create (or find) lesson stems that can be adapted for multiple subjects or grade levels so they are applicable to as many teachers as possible. You can always help them fit their content into it after you’ve caught their attention. I have advertised this Comic Creator tool from ReadWriteThink.org as a lesson stem. Not only can it work with almost any curriculum, but it is ready-to-go and easy to implement, which makes it a nice tool for teachers to keep in their back pockets for a last minute lesson idea or even to add to emergency substitute plans.

eLearning has the potential to create a classroom environment even more engaging than in brick and mortar classrooms. It gives teachers the ability to differentiate their instruction. Students have opportunities to practice skills to prepare them for the future.

eLearning coaches can have a positive impact on how successful virtual learning can be by providing support, modeling innovation, and ensuring that teachers have just as much opportunity to learn and grow as their students.

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