Professional Development

Online Teacher-Coaching Services on the Rise

By Elisha McNeil — February 19, 2016 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To help hone their skills and improve their classroom practice, a growing number of teachers are getting help from virtual-coaching services, according to a story in the Hechinger Report this week.

More startups and education nonprofits are developing professional-development programs that combine face-to-face interaction and online training, both for new teachers struggling with classroom management and veteran teachers looking to provoke deeper thinking from students. From the piece:

Nothing in Linda Liptrap's teacher training prepared her for the pencil onslaught. In 2013, as a novice math teacher at Callaghan Elementary in rural Covington, Virginia, Liptrap was plagued by student requests to sharpen pencils, use the bathroom and other picayune interruptions. "'They were penciling me to death,' Liptrap said. Lessons stalled. Test scores suffered. Callaghan's principal tried a novel solution to rescue her harried teacher—a virtual coach. A startup called EdConnective matched Liptrap with a veteran teacher in another state trained as an instructional coach."

According to the article, Liptrap and her coach at EdConnective observed and analyzed videos of her teaching, came up with personalized teaching strategies, and then reviewed videos of Liptrap implementing those strategies in the classroom over the course of six weeks. The training ultimately helped Liptrap reduce the interruptions that had plagued her teaching.

Lauren Vargas, an EdConnective virtual coach, describes the private coaching sessions as “very proactive and very action-orientated.”

For example, if a teacher wants to give clearer and more concise directions to students, Vargas will play back (or read back) the directions the teacher gave in a previous class. Then, she'll have the teacher practice a new approach "in their teacher voice" until the teacher gets the hang of it, and she'll follow up in the next session to see how it went in front of actual students."

Schools and principals are turning to online coaching because often they simply do not have the time or money to have coaches on staff, Hechinger columnist, Chris Berdik, writes. On the other hand, virtual instructional coaches can help from anywhere and at any time, promising teachers more feedback, personalized action plans, and follow-up—three aspects The Hechinger Report notes as often missing from teacher PD.

EdConnective is far from the only program offering virtual coaching and online professional development. The article mentions TNTP, a nonprofit teacher-training and advocacy group that offers virtual coaching in addition to providing in-school services and programs, and Teaching Channel, which offers a subscription service that enables mentors and teachers to hold online discussions and analyze teaching videos.

The Hechinger Report notes that there is little hard data that supports the notion that virtual coaching can improve student achievement, but that there are two independent studies underway by Teaching Channel Teams to be finished in three years.

More on professional development and teacher training:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Professional Development Opinion Developing Success Criteria With PD Participants to Engage in Deeper Learning
Success criteria show educators how we believe they will be successful at the end of a lesson. Let's involve them in the process.
5 min read
Professional Development Opinion 4 Essential Elements Needed Right Now to Engage in Leadership Coaching
Leadership coaching is growing, but there are some important elements to consider before anyone engages in a coaching relationship.
6 min read
shutterstock 1586195833
Professional Development Return of the In-Person Edu-Conference: Elementary Principals' Group to Meet in Chicago
Registration for the organization's first in-person conference since the pandemic started is keeping apace with that of previous years.
4 min read
Abstract blurred image of attendees in seminar room or conference hall and social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. new normal life concept.
Pratchaya/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Professional Development Some Kids Had a 'Choppy' K-12 Experience This Year. ISTE Will Explore Solutions
Big themes at this year's online-only ed-tech conference will include acceleration and finding K-12's way in a new, more virtual world.
2 min read
Image of a student working on a computer from home.