Moving Student-Centered Coaching Online

In this era of Covid-19, many schools are moving online. Just this morning, a coach and I discussed her role in this new reality. As a practioner of Student-Centered Coaching, she regularly works closely with teachers in their classrooms. What would this look like when students are engaging through webcams? She is also sensitive to the stress that teachers are under as they transition to teaching online. That last thing she wants to do is make their lives more demanding. These factors led her to wonder where she fits in this new reality. The following three strategies can be used to move Student-Centered Coaching online.

The first few weeks of online teaching will feel a lot like the first few weeks of the school year.
We would never launch coaching cycles on the first few days of school, and the same goes for the first few days of online teaching. It will likely take a few weeks for teachers to get their systems in place. During this time, coaches can help teachers design their coursework in the Learning Management System such as Google Classroom, Canvas, or Schoology. Being there as a thinking partner or resource may come in the form of virtual co-planning, organizing the online learning space, or helping teachers find online resources such as videos, tutorials, texts, etc. There could also be virtual classroom management concerns such as; holding students accountable as learners, getting them to engage and collaborate as a group, and creating norms for working online. These are areas where a coach can provide support.

Teachers will wonder if their students are really learning.
After a few weeks, teachers will have their systems in place and will likely begin to wonder if their students are learning in this new format. Helping them answer this question is what Student-Centered Coaching has always been about. Coaching cycles can go virtual with the following tweaks.

  • The goal for the coaching cycle would still be whatever the unit is focusing on, and the learning targets would break down that goal a into student-friendly success criteria. Ideally this is shared directly with students.
  • The pre-assessment would then be performed. Examples are: a response to reading, a complex word problem, or a prompted writing assignment.
  • We’d still want to co-teach throughout the unit. An easy way to do this is by joining the course and serving as a second instructor. Then you will be able read the students’ work and listen to their conversations. Co-planning sessions would be based on how the students are performing on the learning tasks that have been assigned.
  • The coaching cycle would end with a post assessment that would mirror the assessment that was given at the beginning of the unit. It would be open-ended and aligned with the learning targets so that the teacher and coach could understand the students’ performance across the unit.

There’s always curriculum work to get done.
Many coaches also wear the hat of curriculum developers. We know that this is a demanding part of the job and this could be a great time to make revisions or build new units. Just be sure to reach out to teachers in some way for their thoughts and feedback.

Remember: It’s okay to serve as a resource provider during this difficult time.
Most of us aren’t sure what to expect in the next few months. Everything is changing so quickly and we should give ourselves some grace as we try to figure it out. When all else fails, it’s just fine to serve teachers as a resource provider. We can get through this together.


We have an online Student-Centered Coaching course beginning this summer – check out the details here.

10 thoughts on “Moving Student-Centered Coaching Online”

  1. This was a very interesting article because it validated all that we were doing the first few weeks after school suddenly shut down.
    Our district went through many hours of self-introspection because we were not prepared with distance learning at all. The first year teachers were in a real quandary the first few weeks of school.Thankfully, all is sorted out now. We have had many staff meetings and expectations with regards to students are set for now.
    In the following weeks, we are trying to gather data on the amount of work done online vs hard copy homework.

  2. Online classroom teaching will be especially interesting for push in Resource supported students. The Resource teacher and the classroom teacher will have to work closely with each other to insure that the lessons presented to the students have accommodations built in. Teachers already accommodate for all of their students, but this is a unique time.

  3. Thank you so much for the thoughtful post on how coaches can serve as helpful thinking partners and resources during this challenging time. I shared this with my entire coaching team! I agree, we are better together!

  4. Thank you so much for this it’s a new reality for all of us and this gives great guidance for us as coaches!

  5. Thank you Diane.
    I think that the challenges that some are facing with be a the new reality post the shutdown. I home school and am a coach and the beauty in that is that I can reach my students successfully in so many ways. I do appreciate your post.

  6. Thank you Diane! Helping support my teachers and administrators as we navigate these uncharted waters is going to be tricky, but like all things, we will be better when we think through it together.

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