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Virtual Coaching for Teachers

Using technology to create access to coaching for educators

Overview

Ector County Independent School District leadership has a strong commitment to coaching as a vehicle for improvement and change. Superintendent Scott Muri summed up the philosophy this way: “Coaching is a gift...I believe so much in you and think that you're great. I'm spending district money to help you become the greatest that you can be. It's a gift to receive coaching. I myself, as a part of my superintendent contract, built in executive coaching because I want to be better. But you have to take people on that journey. And so from a teacher perspective, it's the same thing.”

The district already had coaching structures in place to support the executive cabinet and principals, and pre-pandemic was beginning to extend support down to the teacher level. However, leaders faced two big challenges that shaped the approach:

  • While work is underway to build additional teacher pipelines, the district has a very high teacher vacancy rate. Given its rural location and very high need context, it can be difficult to recruit and retain expert coaches.

  • The shift to virtual learning during the pandemic required additional skills not already present in the district. Muring remarked, “If I'm a 20-year veteran, I've never taught in a virtual environment. So I'm a first year teacher, if you will, teaching virtually.”

Based on this, the team decided to heavily invest in virtual coaches for teachers.

Approach

Ector County ISD hired virtual teaching coaches, beginning with a middle school pilot where the district purchased Swivl robots for classrooms. The robots follow teachers automatically and record video and audio for streaming to coaches.

Coaches follow teachers live to provide in-time and follow-up coaching support. (This same technology can be used to support synchronous instruction.)

Tweet from Emma Hernandez (@emahdez100) with the text


Investment in virtual coaching will now be a big bet for the district:

“We are looking at using our federal stimulus money over the next three years. I can't reduce class size. I don't have teachers. That's not a strategy for us. And so we're going to hire an inordinate amount of teacher coaches and they won't all live here because I can't bring four hundred coaches. They will not move here. And so we're going to leverage the power of technology…So one of our investments that we will make with our federal stimulus money is to significantly expand the amount of coaching that is happening in our system. And we know that that's an investment that is going to last far beyond the three years of federal stimulus money. It goes away and certainly the coaches will go away. But with the learning of our teachers, we're going to raise the floor quite a bit in our system.”- Scott Muri, Superintendent, Ector County ISD


This strategy is a part of TLA's Hop, Skip, Leapfrog release, which explores the concrete ways in which schools and systems pursued student-centered innovation during COVID-19. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.


Strategy Resources


Personalized Professional Learning

Ector County Independent School District Superintendent Scott Muri shares how the district is shifting... Learn More