Part 2: Distance Coaching Versus Classroom Coaching | Steve Barkley
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How is Distance Coaching Different from in the Classroom Coaching? (Part 2)

Last week, I shared that when I was asked the above question in interview session at the Simply Coaching Summit — Quarantine Edition with Nicole Turner, my first response was to ask to change the question. I’m convinced that how coaching is the same is a much more important question. The critical components and elements of coaching that have been developed across the last twenty-five years are increasingly important during this time of rapid change in teaching. A veteran teacher’s comment as she began distance teaching, “After 25 years of teaching I feel like a first-year teacher” suggests a challenge and an opportunity for instructional coaches and school leaders.

In part one, I focused on the importance of trust in coaching relationships. In part two I will stress the following:

Image of the word LearnKeeping the focus on learning

In response to coaches’ questions in the Quarantine summit, I proposed that as coaches support teachers in designing, delivering and reflecting on teaching through distance they have these focus questions:

  • What do you want students to learn?
  • What do they need to do to cause the learning outcome? (What are the learning production behaviors?)
  • What can you design to cause those learning production behaviors?
  • What evidence will you look for that suggests the activity/tasks/assignments/questions are generating the behaviors?
  • How will you want to gather evidence that the learning outcomes are happening?

A new to ‘teaching online’ instructor shared that she was reviewing her past end of unit exam and decided that she needed to remove the questions that one could easily find on Google. Years ago I had suggested “google-proofing” tests as a strategy to help decide what is most important in our learning outcomes.

upset student boy with laptop computer at homeIn a podcast with Jonathan Mueller, Curriculum Coordinator and Instructional coach at the Western Academy Beijing, I explore his insights at seven weeks into schools being closed. His students’ families are currently scattered across the globe. Jonathan himself was speaking to me from Bangkok. He shared:

“You know, this time of year it doesn’t really matter when you teach something, this when you’re building conceptual understanding. So, we looked at what was already within our written and taught curriculum to see what kind of adaptations we could make and what might be accessible to students and families. Once there was realization that it might not be as accessible as we thought it might be, we explored what adjustments we could make? What did the kids need as opposed to what we want them to have?”

Mike Flynn, in Transitioning to Online Learning: Pro Tips on What You Need to Know said:

“I think one important piece of advice is to help teachers prioritize what’s the most important for them in terms of their instruction and their connection with students. Everyone’s going to be operating on limited amounts of time—elementary teachers, in particular, might just be meeting with students for a short period of time. So, you need to figure out what are the most important things to cover.”

The current disruption of schooling as normal may be providing an opportunity to further build a focus on standards-based teaching and grading. When pushed, can we identify clearly the desired learning outcome? What might we uncover from changes such as this passage from the article, Columbia and Barnard to grade spring classes on pass/fail scale, extends spring break:

“The move to universal pass/fail, which is usually not allowed for classes counted toward one’s major, concentration, or Core requirements, comes following a move by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Smith College toward similar alternative grading scales. Though students typically may not apply courses they choose to pass/fail toward their major requirements, all courses taken this semester will count.”

I raised this focus on learning in a recent podcast series I am doing to support parents, “What if we stopped talking to our youngsters about completing their work, their homework, their schoolwork, and instead replaced it with, “It’s time” or “It’s necessary to tackle the next learning task”?

Oregon State University announced that it will no longer require freshman applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores to be considered for admission, starting with fall term 2021.

“OSU is committed to advancing success for all students. The university is implementing this change after broad consultation and support from OSU stakeholders, including the university’s board of trustees, the Faculty Senate, student leaders and alumni.”

As a coach supporting teachers currently, the thought in my mind is, “Learning trumps curriculum.”

Next week, in Part 3, we will continue with the focus on learning.

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