Last weekend was opening day for Little League. I sat in the bleachers and clapped for my little guy and 700 of his closest friends, and then came the speeches. I got some funny looks because I was taking notes the whole time, but as a virtual coach I’m always looking for good stuff that I can share with teachers and coaches.
Our league has a Character Counts award. The recipients are nominated by their coaches, and are described as “coachable” and “always giving 110%.” That struck a chord in me, because that’s what I look for in a teacher. Then I started thinking about the relationships between coaches and players, and how vital those relationships are.
Each week, I watch my son’s coaches work with him. They motivate him and cheer him on when he does well, and when he falls short, they step in and offer direct instruction. If he still doesn’t get it, they show him a different way. They keep at it until he makes progress. And every step of the way, they’re right beside him.
Like my son’s coaches, my role as a virtual coach is both cheerleader and teacher. I’m there to encourage, but at the same time, to focus on and strengthen specific skills. The virtual coach works with the teacher to set strategic goals. Each week, we work together to make progress toward those goals. That involves conferencing with the teacher, watching videos and giving feedback, and offering resources to help the teacher build his or her repertoire of skills. One of the benefits of virtual coaching is the one-on-one aspect: each teacher receives the coach’s undivided attention, and a truly individualized program.
Coaches are important in any sport, and teaching is no different. A virtual coach can help a teacher go from good to great.
Kristi Pharaon is an educational consultant who has worked as an instructional coach for the past 11 years.