by Stephanie Affinito
Most instructional coaches are facing an entirely new challenge as they head into the school year: coaching and leading remotely. How do we build teacher learning communities online? How might we best design professional learning experiences through virtual sessions? How can we continue our classroom coaching cycles from afar? As we faced extended school closures due to COVID-19 this past Spring and look ahead to socially-distanced, hybrid, and virtual learning plans for the Fall, we are innovating the ways we provide professional support to teachers so they can then best support their students.
I wrote Literacy Coaching: Transforming Teaching and Learning with Digital Tools and Technology well before our current challenges faced as a result of COVID-19. In it, I highlighted the many ways technology can proactively strengthen instructional coaching: to create learning communities, to design professional learning experiences, and to enhance collaboration and classroom coaching. But even though technology and digital tools have been a daily part of my coaching for years, I’ve had to shift my own thinking on how to best support teachers in digital, virtual, and remote coaching environments during this challenging time. As I have reframed what literacy coaching might look like for the coming school year, I have found ways to connect with teachers to maintain a strong learning community, re-imagined virtual meeting agendas, slides, and interactions to focus on what matters most, and completely re-thought the purpose of virtual coaching cycles.
I wanted a way to capture these new coaching moves to represent my own continued learning and share it with others. So, I’ve created a digital Padlet wall to curate the ideas, tips, and tools I use in my own practice in hopes they will help others, too. In this Virtual Coaching Toolkit Padlet, you will find blog posts on virtual coaching, tips for organizing coaching workspaces from home, ideas and suggestions to build community from afar, new soft starts for online learning sessions, my top tips for virtual meetings, some of the new ways I’m engaging teachers (think content coaching cycles, hyperdocs and choice boards for personal learning), and more!
My Virtual Coaching Toolkit is a work-in-progress and I continue to add to it as my coaching practices evolve––a portfolio of sorts capturing the innovation borne out of this crisis. While there is much beyond our control, I choose to celebrate the thoughtful and creative ways we are continuing our work and ultimately, redefining what coaching could look like when we finally emerge on the other side of this crisis. And this celebration is on-going.
I’ll update this Padlet as I continue in my own learning and would love to hear from others. How are you shifting your instructional coaching online? What tools and tips do you have?
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To learn more about Literacy Coaching: Transforming Teaching and Learning with Digital Tools and Technology by Stephanie Affinito visit Heinemann.com.
Dr. Stephanie Affinito, a former classroom teacher and literacy specialist, is a literacy teacher educator at the University at Albany. She has a deep love for literacy coaching and supporting teachers’ learning through technology, and she presents nationally on this topic. You can find her online at stephanieaffinito.com and on Twitter at @AffinitoLit.