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156. Setting Up Asynchronous Coaching for On-Demand Professional Learning

by Lindsay Lyons
March 26th 2024
In today's solo episode, Lindsay is sharing how you can set up asynchronous coaching for on-demand professional learni... More
Educational justice coach, Lindsay Lyons, and here on the time for teacher podcast, we learn how to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice design curricula grounded in student voice and build capacity for shared leadership. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach. I'm striving to live a life full of learning, running, baking, traveling, and parenting because we can be rockstar educators and be full human beings if you're a principal assistant superintendent, curriculum director, instructional coach or teacher who enjoys nering out about core curriculum of students. I made this show for you. Here we go. Welcome to episode 156 of the time for teachers podcast. In this episode, we're talking about setting up alternative ways for you to coach the teachers, instructional coaches, whoever it is that you are responsible for as an instructional leader. So specifically, we're going to dive into a strategy around setting up a synchronous coaching so that teachers can have professional learning really on demand.

Given that your resources are so limited. What does that look like for you to be able to provide the support to them without necessarily meeting them in person and giving responses to them live. So let's dive into the episode. So we all know teaching is super demanding, any sort of educational leadership is super demanding and everyone is gonna benefit from a coach. Right? There are so many questions that arise throughout our day, every single day, I can think of 100 questions even as an entrepreneur in this space now that I want to ask people and would love to just be able to send that question quickly to someone and get a response pretty immediately, right. However, we just don't have the resources to be able to necessarily provide that for every single teacher who we're responsible for, right, improving teaching practice and improving instructional leadership practice is really best with a thinking partner, right? We know this to be true, but literally being in each teacher's class all the time is just not possible.

I work with many instructional coaches who work district wide across several schools and the majority of their day is actually spent commuting, finding parking, being able to just get to the place where we can be in the teacher's classroom to provide the support in person vastly reduces the amount of teachers and the degree of support that that coach can then provide. Right, if that's the scenario, even within a building, just walking to that teacher's classroom, setting up a time that works for you both. Right. There's a very resource intensive process that is kind of our default here. So the question is, how do we offer instructional coaching or instructional leadership when your teachers or staff members need it without actually overworking yourself or under providing to those teachers one strategy. And this again is just one, but I'd love to add it to your repertoire is to set up an asynchronous coaching option. So I've definitely had those moments where I've been preparing for a class as a teacher.

I want someone to talk through my idea with me. And I think, you know, what about this resource? I want a resource that accomplishes X, right? Is there another way to approach this? Does this discussion question actually excite and energize people or is it just cool in my head? But it's gonna lead to crickets and the discussion, right? Whatever it is, it might be after school hours, it might be during the day, but all the teachers next door are busy. I don't have an instructional coach assigned to me. I don't wanna bother anyone. Right. There's all sorts of stuff wrapped up in that scenario. So we know there is a need, I think we've all probably been there. Now, the the question first is why do we wanna make sure that we are investing time and energy into developing a solution for this instructional coaching problem? Like, yeah, instructional coaching is great, but like is this really where I wanna spend my time and energy setting up something new to be able to serve teachers in this way or is my time and energy better spent somewhere else. So I wanna quickly share the research with you.

So a meta analysis which is basically a study that studies all the other studies out there on this topic found that instructional coaching had a greater impact on instruction than many interventions including teacher Preser training, merit based pay, general professional development and extended learning time for students. They found instructional coaching has a greater impact on student achievement than quote, the degree to which teachers improve their ability to raise student achievement during the 1st 5 to 10 years of their careers. End quote. Wow. 5 to 10 years of teachers learning and adapting and figuring out how to teach instructional coaching has a greater impact on student achievement than that. That is nuts. To me, this meta analysis also found that while resources can be a constraint to providing teachers with an instructional coach, they have reviewed the research and found that a, a high quality suggestion really is virtual coaching as an option. Given the quote, lack of any statistically significant differences in effect sizes between in person and virtual coaching.

End quote. We'll link to that actual meta analysis study on our blog post. So that's Lindsay, Beth lions.com/blog/one 56, if you want to check that out in more detail. But this is pretty astounding to me. So there's no difference between getting on zoom and coaching someone virtually versus being in their classroom or sitting with them in person. There is such intense student achievement gains from having an instructional coach that it is the equivalent of if not more than what a teacher is capable of doing and improving for students over the 1st 5 to 10 years of their career in education. Wow. Like there is such a valuable need and I think rationale for investing the time and resources into figuring out how to get every teacher an instructional coach or access to some kind of instructional coaching opportunity. And so because we don't have probably all of the monetary reasons and certainly not all of the time resources that you yourself can provide or if you have instructional coaches on your staff, they provide all of the teachers.

Let's think of how to optimize this. How could we set up an asynchronous coaching platform for on demand professional learning? So certainly one of the things that you might want to do before we even, I, I wanna say this quickly before we even get to this next piece is you could in that scenario, I shared earlier where you have an instructional coach working in multiple schools throughout the district. They're spending a lot of time literally commuting, just try to have them hop on zoom instead. So you still have the kind of face to face quality. You still have the back and forth, you can still have a screen share up. There's a lot of similarities than sitting next to a person. Right. But you're optimizing that coaches time to be able to serve more folks or just to be like more resourced themselves. So they're not overworked and then burning out and then quitting the profession. So that I think is kind of like step one. That's a really easy, easier maybe in transition than setting up something completely new. You're just kind of changing where it happens. But the other thing I would recommend after that, you still may have an unmet need.

You still may have a ton of teachers that don't have that service or their schedules conflict with when you or the instructional leader who is responsible for coaching them can actually meet with them, for example. So let's talk about how to set up the asynchronous coaching option. First thing I want you to do is pick a platform. Now slack is the one that my co coach, Kara and I like and we chose that for our edgy boost coaching service. But teachers may be more familiar with a platform that your specific school or district uses a lot of schools, use something like Microsoft teams or the Google suite of apps. So it might be that you have a kind of Google classroom classroom almost, right that all of the coaching exists in or you kind of house shared resources on it. And I'll get to that in just a minute and the direct message feature within Google classroom is how you're gonna communicate. Like the one on one questions or it could be that like, ok, everyone has a Gmail account. We're gonna use Google Chat or G Chat, whatever you call it. And that kind of immediate messaging the fact that it's gonna ping me on my computer.

Like that's what we want because we're all on laptops anyways, I'm not positive about the Google Chat feature on a phone. But I think it's the same because one of the things I would say too is to consider accessibility and modality features. Like, do you want teachers to be able to access the platform via an app on their phone or just have their laptop open? So I think different school and district communities have different rules around this. Like if you have a rule where no teacher can have their phone out during the school day, you probably don't need or maybe even want something that has a specific app on the phone. You just want it to be laptop based or maybe you're like, well, they can't have it in the school day, but most of my teachers want the support or do their planning after school. And if they're in the grocery line, they're not going to have their laptop out and they have five minutes to write me a quick question. Absolutely. Fine. So consider that it may be something where you want an app to be available it may not matter, you may just want a laptop based thing.

Whatever you think the other piece of accessibility and modality features I would consider is the ability to share a message in multiple ways. For example, type a message or leave a voice note, be able to link to a Google doc or other documentation that you want the the person to review, right? So like here's the thing I want to share with my coach and get feedback. I need to be able to link that embedded in the message. So just make sure we have some different features in whatever form of communication or platform that you're using. That teachers are not going to find it, unable to do the things they wanna do. I know personally if I have an idea. Well, I am like running, for example, I might want to just share it in a voice note like I'm gonna take a quick stop or I'll just keep running and share it depending on my relationship with my coach and whoever's receiving the message, I can just voice note it. I am not going to pause when I run type out this whole like correctly punctuated message and then restart.

Like that's just not how I would want to leave a message. Other people are like, I would never want to leave a voice. No ever. I need the ability to. So just kind of consider your audience and consider all the ways that you would want to provide options to share questions. Then I think the next step is to establish expectations. So what can teachers expect from you with regard to your response time to them or to the instructional coaches, response time to them? For example, you might say, you know what, you're gonna get a response within 24 hours or by the end of the school day or within kind of like one full school day cycle, right? So if you email me at or message me on whatever platform at three pm and our school gets out at four, I might not respond to you by four, but I'll respond to you by three pm the next day, the next school day perhaps, right? So if you say the next day and then it's like they send you that message at three pm on a Friday, are you going to respond by three pm on Saturday or are you responding by three pm next Monday? Because that's when school opens again. So kind of consider the expectations you want to set staff wide or if you are thinking about from the perspective of how your availability, how often you want to be available in your own.

Well, being, that's what I would kind of think about. So you want to balance the teachers need to get a quick response with your ability to kind of juggle all of this. You want to consider, you know, how many questions? Are they going to be asking? What types of questions are there certain questions that are really best for this kind of asynchronous coaching platform? Perhaps something like feedback on a worksheet that developed, you can have them send that to you and you can record a loom video and link that back or a voice note or maybe they're looking for a suggested text that they want to use in an upcoming lesson And they're like, OK, I wanna teach on this topic. Is there any sort of resource or quote text? Right? Could be like a song. I use text very liberally. But like, what would you suggest? I use as something that we can unpack as the class in this lesson on this topic. That might be great for this type of platform. But perhaps if a teacher is working on improving their student led discussions, and this is really kind of a question about like, what should I do differently that might require a live class visit? So kind of think about the types of questions that are best for the platform and also kind of the number and depth of response that are gonna be required.

And you're kind of guessing when you first of course, start this off. But think about the capacity that you have for answering all of those questions. If you have 10 teachers who are going to ask you 10 questions every day and they're all requiring a lengthy response or a loom video where they're screen sharing and you're kind of giving feedback on a worksheet that they shared with you. Like that's pretty intense. It's going to take a lot of time versus hey, off the top of your head. What do you think of this question for my discussion tomorrow? Is it engaging? Boom, you could give your two cents on that probably within a minute. So just kind of think about those expectations you want to establish next. I would build a frequently asked questions space. So again, we're thinking about your capacity to be able to field all these questions. And I think it's a pretty good guess that you're gonna have some common questions or questions that fall into particular categories where if you just created something like a simple Google Doc with all of those questions and your typical responses to those questions, they can go there first.

If you want to kind of recommend that practice, that'll save you time answering the question at all and get the teacher an answer even faster. Or if the teacher kind of skips over that you don't want to make it part of your practice. If the teacher asks you that question anyways and you know, it's on the fa Q doc, you can just save yourself some time by copying and pasting your response from that FA Q doc. So either way it's gonna save you a bit of time and it may even get the teacher their question answered faster. I think the next thing you'd want to do and I kind of mentioned this a little bit earlier, but there's a lot that you could possibly do within the asynchronous coaching kind of landscape. And so I think of this kind of as a leveled up series of options that you wait, you might say, hey, this actually is great. I wanna offer this or you might say if I turn down this road and I offer these things, I'm gonna get so overwhelmed with requests for these specific styles of kind of leveled up coaching options that I am not gonna be able to sustain this anymore and it's just not even worth it to start. So two ideas that I'm thinking right now, one loom videos, I absolutely love creating loom videos for teachers.

When I want to give in depth feedback. There's the screen share. I can share my face if I want to or not. I can have that voice over. I can highlight or change things in the moment. It might be something that you wanna offer your teachers. It might not, but consider a couple things. Will it be fun for you? Are you going to actually enjoy this platform? And how much time is it actually gonna take you? Right. Versus just waiting until the next meeting that you have scheduled with the teacher. If you're still doing those kinds of meetings or hopping on a zoom call, visiting the teacher in person and kind of making a separate meeting out of this. It may save you a ton of time. I think it usually will. But if you're not a tech person or you just absolutely hate this platform or you're like, you know what, I'm gonna limit it. I'm gonna say I'm gonna take one kind of question that requires a loom video response per month, per week, whatever it is like, go ahead and, and put that into your expectations document or the communication that you're gonna have with that teacher about. What kinds of questions can you send me? And what kinds of responses can you expect from me? The other option? I was thinking of was kind of a leveled up thing is hopping on a quick zoom call once in a while.

There is a question that's just like, you know, it's gonna take maybe five minutes, 10 minutes tops to answer. It's pretty short. It doesn't require a full visit or meeting with the teacher, but it's not gonna be as efficient to kind of go back and forth in the asynchronous venue. We need to just kind of have a quick back and forth live. So maybe that you wanna offer that like, OK, and again, in your expectations, five minute zoom call on demand when you need it, ping me and message me whatever. Tell me you want this five minute zoom call option and maybe you only have, you know, 11 per month or two per semester or whatever that you kind of put again in your expectations. But then you, you know, also let them know any other expectations affiliated with that. For example, you might only offer it during predetermined quote, office hours, right. If you have your typical office hours where you could kind of drop in and get support here, great. Otherwise I might be in a class, right? You can't always expect the instructional leader to be available for a five minute zoom call.

So it also may be an expectation that's like you can ask for this. I'm gonna tell you yes or no because then whether I can but like that could also be a natural evolution from OK, we're going back and forth. You asked me a question, I sent you an answer. There's some confusion, you know what I can make the call in that moment as the instructional leader that I'm going to say, hey, if you're free now, let's just hop on this call. And again, I think you also wanna consider platform wise from step number one. Do you have a platform that enables you to get on a call quickly? So if you have the Google speed of apps, you can use something like Google meets. Do you have Zoom integration? If you're using something like Slack, you have an ability to huddle, right? And do the the kind of slack based video chat that may also be a consideration that you have or you might say, you know what I never want to do that. The whole point of this is asynchronous. If they want a full meeting with me live, they can book that on my calendar, like using a calendar link or some other sort of system that I have, right? Or a typical coaching call. Totally fine. And then the last thing I would say, we've talked a lot about like you kind of got a guess at the beginning of this launch and you might not know yet and you might learn as you go.

So I recommend doing a small pilot and just naming is that looking for a handful of teachers who are really excited about this idea. I'd love for you to help me test what works, what doesn't I want you to give me some feedback and then that will also help you evaluate your capacity and then you can adjust those expectations or boundaries, promises, whatever you give them for what kinds of responses and the time that it will take you to respond if your initial guess was not as feasible. So I do think there is an opportunity for again those early adopters, those really excited teachers who are like, yeah, I've been waiting for something like this my whole life. I'm ready, right? Do something like that with them. OK. So that is all we have for today, set up your asynchronous coaching platforms. Let me know how it goes. I am so excited for you to just free up some more of your time and serve more teachers now to help you implement effective coaching structures in your community. I am sharing a related resource which is my free coaching call template.

You can grab this at today's blog post for the episode at Lindsay, Beth lions.com/blog/one 56. See you next time if you like this episode, I bet you'll be just as jazz as I am about my coaching program for increasing student led discussions in your school, Shane, Sair and Jamila Dugan talk about a pedagogy of student voice in their book Street data. They say students should be talking for 75% of class time. Do students in your school talk for 75% of each class period? I would love for you to walk into any classroom in your community and see this in action. If you're smiling yourself as you listen right now, grab 20 minutes on my calendar to brainstorm. How I can help you make this big dream a reality. I'll help you build a comprehensive plan from full day trainings and discussion protocols like circle and Socratic seminar to follow up classroom visits where I can plan witness and debrief discussion based lessons with your teachers. Sign up for a nerdy no strings attached to brainstorm. Call at Lindsay, Beth lions.com/contact. Until next time, leaders think. Big act brave and be your best self. This podcast is a proud member of the teach better podcast network better today, better tomorrow and the podcast to get you there, explore more podcasts at teach better.com/podcasts and we'll see you at the next episode.

156. Setting Up Asynchronous Coaching for On-Demand Professional Learning
156. Setting Up Asynchronous Coaching for On-Demand Professional Learning
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