Quality online learning requires both an engaged student and an insightful instructor who knows how to build effective online courses. In our mission to offer online learning that is transformative, engaging, and accessible, we recognize the need for experienced instructional designers and skilled online course instructors who are readily available to fill a number of different roles. This was the inspiration for The Tourism Academy's Instructor Success team - talented coaches on hand to make learning better for everyone involved. So what's Instructional Design?
As a resource provider, the coach assists teachers with materials, tools, information, etc. to support classroom instruction. The resources provided could be links from the Internet, materials shared from other teachers, wonderful research/articles that are relevant to teacher practices or ideas shared from other colleagues. Oftentimes, providing these resources help coaches cross the “threshold” into classrooms.
Data Coach Coaches
are the liaisons between research and practice, helping teachers learn to improve their practices in a reflective supportive setting. As a data coach, the coach organizes and analyzes a school’s data, facilitating conversations among the faculty. The coach supports teachers and administrators in using data to improve instruction on all levels.
The coach supports teachers by helping with the “what” of teaching. He/she helps teachers use the national, state and district curriculum standards to plan instruction and assessment. The coach collaborates and supports teachers in using the curriculum to analyze students’ strengths and target areas for improvement. Coaches need to understand how each curriculum is structured, i.e., thematic approaches, etc., and validate the content teachers’ expertise. The coach “taps” into the content expertise of the classroom teacher.
The coach supports teachers by helping with the “how” of teaching. He/she collaborates with teachers in designing instruction to meet the needs of all students. Multiple instructional strategies/processes are shared with teachers. The coach also coordinates with other specialists in the school to provide a seamless approach to the educational processes in the school, supporting the idea that literacy is a process, not content. The coach must maintain confidentiality and be responsive to the “territorial” limitations of teachers’ classrooms.
As a mentor, the coach is a critical friend supporting all teachers, novice and experienced. He/she provides guidance and structure where needed, encouraging relationship building among colleagues. A mentor focuses on teachers’ strengths, collaborating and discussing common issues of concern and is a shoulder to bounce off ideas and concerns.
As a classroom supporter, a coach is a co-planner, a co-teacher and a feedback provider. The role is varied including co-planning units of study, providing over the shoulder coaching, participating in co/team teaching, modeling lessons, encouraging reflective practices, assisting with small group instruction, helping with assessments, co-creating classroom management techniques which support instruction and facilitating after visitation discussions. The coach helps facilitate discussions resulting in the collaborative, reflective, accountable, self-evaluative and participative practices that support the educational processes of all students and teachers.
As a learning facilitator, a coach helps coordinate and facilitate learning experiences for school staff. A coach engages teachers in inquiry, collaborates with teachers to determine areas of need and together they design ways to address the issues of concern. Coaches coordinate cross department classroom visitations, organize professional learning communities within and among schools, help manage study groups, design professional development opportunities, arrange lesson study groups, discuss case studies and examine student work. A coach helps provide opportunities for professional growth on all levels.
A coach as a school leader assists and serves on leadership teams within the school. He/she helps bridge the gaps between and among school programs, remaining focused on the school goals. The coach helps align individual goals and school goals in a non evaluative way. The coach is not an administrator, a district overseer nor a classroom peer.
Catalyst for Change
A coach models and facilitates continuous improvement on the classroom and school levels. On many occasions, he/she challenges the status quo, asks questions and facilitates difficult conversations helping to shape the culture of the school. As a catalyst for change, the coach must motivate the teachers and encourage them to “step out of the box,” reinforcing their learning with support. A coach helps teachers retain what they learn through practice and helps teachers transfer/synthesize their learning by co-planning ways to use the information in new settings.
In the role of learner, the coach models continuous learning. The coach takes initiative and pursues her/his own learning that focuses on her/his work, her/his own need, and the field of education. Coaches reach out to create learning communities both within and outside the school. The coach, as learner, uses reflection on and of practice, is aware of the needs of the adult learner, understands the learning process, provides opportunities for proactive support, and leads others as they journey toward changing their knowledge, attitudes, skills, aspirations, and behaviors. The coach is a thought leader in the school.
The Tourism Academy Team
Led by seasonal instructional designer and Chief Learning Officer, Sheena Works, The Instructor Success team is comprised of course creators, online learning students, and experts in digital training solutions.