If you’re a Teachstone blog-reader, you may have noticed that we focus on being “strengths-based” instructional coaching all the time. But sometimes it’s equally healthy to reflect on the stuff that didn’t go so well so we can avoid it next time. (By the way, if you’re looking for something purely strengths-based, Gina Gates recently wrote this fantastic post for the myTeachstone blog on ways to support resistant teachers using an online platform.)
This post is about what not to do. These are the seven deadly sins of taking teacher learning online:
...or assuming “when you build it, they will come.”
Purchasing an online platform, like myTeachstone, is a great first step in investing in quality online professional development for your teachers—but simply buying the platform won’t get you far. Just like any other program initiative, you need to work with all levels of your organization to establish buy-in, generate excitement, and reward engagement.
...or seeing other CLASS implementations and wishing you had what they had.
Learning from other implementations is smart. Drooling over the resources you wish you had is not. Rather than being envious of other implementations, learn all you can about them and emulate what makes sense; also, be sure to dive deeply into the resources that you do have at your disposable. For example, if you have myTeachstone, there is a good chance you have not taken advantage of all the resources or features already available to you.
...or getting quickly frustrated when your teachers do not immediately take advantage of online PD opportunities.
Getting angry rarely results in anything positive. Rather than getting mad, get active! Find creative ways to get teachers involved, knowledgeable, and supported when implementing a new online initiative. You might find that they have barriers you would not have considered—maybe the email inviting them to the online system was flagged as SPAM in your email servers. In a case like this, the fix might be easier than you think!
...or trying to focus on too many initiatives at one time.
If you are reading this post, I would be willing to bet that CLASS is just one of many things you are focusing on in your program. That is normal; interactions are just one facet making up strong early childhood systems. However, when taking on new initiatives (such as launching an online teacher learning system), be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Space out new initiatives so that teachers and coaches can focus on learning how to use one system at a time; it’s better to do one thing well than to do many things poorly.
...or spending your energy wishing for fancy bells and whistles.
As with any online application, it’s easy to spend time focusing on what it can’t do, rather than taking advantage of what it can. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a myTeachstone user, we want your feedback! It’s what keeps our platform fresh and useful. But be careful about lusting after fancy features when you could spend your time becoming an expert at using the features already available to you.
...or not bothering to monitor reporting and data trends.
When you take teacher learning online, chances are, you’ll be able to access lots of data that has never been so easily available to you before. It is really easy to become overwhelmed by all this data, which often leads administrators to ignore the reports altogether. Don’t be a sloth! Work with your account manager and stakeholders in your organization early on to establish goals, and then decide exactly which reports you need and how often you need them so you have a plan for evaluating the success of your implementation.
...or expecting CLASS scores to shoot up to 7s overnight.
It can be really exciting to move to an online learning platform. All of a sudden teachers have on-demand access to coaching, high-quality PD resources, and observation data. But remember that behavior change is incremental, no matter how fancy your online platform is. Don’t be greedy; instead, celebrate incremental successes and the indisputable evidence that even small changes in CLASS scores mean big impact for kids.
Are you thinking about moving teachers to an online learning experience? What concerns or questions do you have about the process?
When I first learned about CLASS Group Coaching—a training for early childhood professionals about building relationships with children—I was more than a little interested. This, I thought. This is what teaching is all about. It seems to be an obvious concept, but once we dig deeper, we are able to identify the whys and hows of our interactions. CLASS Group Coaching allows us to identify the benefits of our classroom relationships with our students and helps us be intentional in our daily practices. It allows us to utilize each moment we have with our students to deepen our understanding of their perspectives and genuinely connect with them as people. It helps us see the world from their view and guide their learning in a way that is relevant to them.
Since the coronavirus has disrupted many of our in-person plans, you might be trying to figure out how you can transition in-person coaching to online coaching. Online coaching can open a number of doors for coaches and teachers that might not be an option in face-to-face work.
Even top athletes rely on the support of a coach to improve their game. Players need coaches to help identify their unique strengths and grow their talents while increasing their skills in areas of challenge. To do all this, coaches spend lots of time observing athletes while they practice—giving real-time feedback based on current efforts, breaking skills down as needed to cultivate mastery, and encouraging players to keep trying in pursuit of their goals.
CLASS allows us to quantify the quality of teacher-child interactions—and that is a powerful thing. But improving child outcomes takes more than just data collection; it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
Here are 4 things you should know about using data to improve student outcomes.