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(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – OECS Member States participating in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported Early Learners Programme (ELP) have embarked on a pilot study to determine if virtual coaching is a viable support to in-person professional development for teachers in implementing schools.
While classroom-based teacher coaching is a key component of the ELP, the travel time and costs required to support face-to- face professional development can be somewhat prohibitive. The number of coaches that Ministries of Education can reasonably support is also limited due to cost implications. The study will explore the possibility of utilizing virtual support as a means of maintaining consistent job-embedded support and bypass budget constraints. This method could be especially useful in multi-island countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada with its two Grenadine islands, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Virtual coaching can provide timely feedback that leads to the successful performance of newly-acquired skills, thereby positively shaping teaching. Research results have affirmed that virtual coaching is an effective and efficient way to support the professional development of teachers.
Speaking about the innovative method being pioneered, Mr Rafer Gordon, Education Specialist of the Education Development Management Unit of the OECS Commission, explained:
“Virtual coaching allows teachers to receive the expert guidance they need within the convenience of their classrooms, in real time, without students even being aware.While virtual coaching does have associated costs, such as equipment and internet access, where not available, these costs are far lower than increased personnel, transportation and time costs for ELP Coordinators who have to consistently visit schools and teachers across the islands,” he maintained.
The findings of the pilot study will decide whether virtual coaching is an approach that ensures the continued achievement of ELP objectives without compromising the quality of professional development which is a cornerstone of the program.
About the OECS/USAID Early Learners Program (ELP)
The OECS/USAID Early Learners Program (ELP) is a reading development programme administered by the OECS Commission and supported by the United States Government, through USAID. The ELP influences essential aspects of policy and practice to improve reading levels of all learners at the early primary level (Grade K to Grade 3) in the six OECS member states of Antigua and Barbuda; Dominica; Grenada; St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Lucia; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The ELP strengthens teacher skills through professional development opportunities; improves the quality of teaching through child-centered approaches, learning and assessment and by providing appropriate resources; and improves curricula and assessment strategies through curriculum reviews, assessment standards and guidelines and frameworks for teaching and learning standards.