In a recent Edutopia issue (June 26), the topic is about mentoring new teachers in a remote environment. The author offers six tips to build teacher capacity, promote teacher agency, and support the classroom focus. I think we all recognize that these three goals are critical in supporting teachers either virtually or in person. Are they really that different in a virtual environment? Haven’t instructional coaches always worked to help teachers grow and take ownership of their own learning? I think these goals are the same; how they are implemented is the difference.
While the six tips are essential for establishing a culture of collective growth, building and sustaining relationships is probably the most important, especially since many of us feel disconnected to our students and to each other during this unprecedented time. It’s a lonely place to find oneself only connected through a digital platform; the loss of control and fear of the unknown fuels the stress levels.
So, here are the six strategies for mentoring (and certainly for instructional coaching) remotely:
- Meet weekly in a live platform; it’s helpful to see each other in real time.
- Continue to plan your meetings consistently; keep your routines.
- Take time to reflect on the year’s action plans; how will they need to change for next year?
- Let videos be your friend…direct instruction videos can be uploaded to UTube and reviewed with the coach. Or, schedule the “during” to visit and view a part of the teacher’s class lesson, especially one where the coach and teacher planned together in the “before.” Feedback through videos can be very helpful.
- Focus on building and sustaining relationships; it is difficult to start coaching virtually if you and the teacher have not established a trusting relationship. One word of caution…contact many but do not expect to establish a relationship virtually that you have not done in person.
- Reach out to the teachers you coach and/or mentor to remind them that although you are practicing social distancing in a remote environment, you are there to support teaching and learning wherever they occur.
What tips can you add to this list?