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School Solutions                                             Page 48

 

Personal, Private and

On-Demand Teacher Support   

 

BY GEORGE CIGALE

George Cigale

Mathew Doty ended his second-period algebra class discouraged that his carefully planned lesson had fallen flat with the 18 9th graders in the room. As he had done on multiple occasions this past fall, he jumped online and connected to an instructional coach for advice. Thirty minutes later he had a new idea that he used successfully the next day in class.

“I plan out my lessons to the last detail to make sure I’m engaging my students, but sometimes I hit a wall,” explained Doty who has taught for five years at the Crossroads Center, an alternative education center that is part of the Baltimore County Public Schools. “I love that now I can just get online and work with a coach whenever I want. Before, I had to wait months for a workshop. This is so much better because I can ask my specific question and have an immediate solution.”

Doty continues to use the new service, MyLivePD™ Online Coaching, because it provides him with professional support that is personal and available exactly when he needs it. While he focused on lesson planning in the fall, he’s now working with coaches to develop ideas to prepare his students for the Maryland High School Assessments, which they must take in May.

Since 1998, Tutor.com, an AASA School Solutions Center member, has delivered high-quality, on-demand tutoring for students. Now, we’re bringing a similar approach to supporting classroom teachers.

When a teacher needs help or wants a collaborator, he or she can just log in, ask a question and engage with an experienced coach. From classroom management challenges to pedagogy and lesson planning to student assessment, participating teachers are free to ask it all, and coaches are there to help, in a private, confidential setting.

Questions can be specific, such as how to help students understand an algebra concept, or more general, such as integrating technology and collaboration into the classroom. There are no schedules or appointments. The service is available Sunday through Thursday 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET.

MyLivePD supports the growing trend of using technology to help target professional development to individual teacher need. Online professional development saves districts money and scarce resources while keeping teachers in the classroom.

Tutor.com staff conceived of MyLivePD after reviewing millions of tutoring session transcripts and discovering some teachers were using the service to work out a content issue with a tutor or see how tutors approach certain learning challenges with students. MyLivePD is the first private, personal on-demand professional development service available to teachers.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided a grant to get the program off the ground with a few hundred algebra teachers from diverse districts and backgrounds, including first-year Teach for America teachers and veteran National Education Association members.

Working in the Classroom
We now see trends from the teachers’ post-session comments and ratings. More than 90 percent of teachers are using information from their coaching sessions the same week in the classroom, sometimes as early as the next day.

We’re working with several districts including Baltimore County, to create an even more integrated and connected classroom, one that offers ongoing on-demand support for both teachers and students.

The data created from the personalized experiences students have with a tutor are saved, tagged and aligned to state and Common Core standards, and this data can be shared with teachers to pinpoint exactly where students are struggling.

Teachers can see how students articulate their questions and how the tutor was able to help the student overcome their challenge. Knowing where students get stuck helps teachers create better and different approaches to their classroom teaching. And if a teacher gets stuck, an experienced coach is available to help, too.

George Cigale is founder and CEO of Tutor.com. E-mail: gcigale@tutor.com 

A full list of the firms that make up AASA's School Solutions Center is available at http://aasa.org/content.aspx?id=2422.

 

 

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