Yes, Some Schools are Thriving Through COVID

I have been in education for almost 21 years now, and I continue to be amazed by the resilience that educators show day in and day out and year after year. They have always continued to do more with less and then… a pandemic! Wait. What!?!? 

This has affected every aspect of our lives – our home life, our work life, and our overall way of living. Everyone is scrambling to “figure” this out, but as educators, it feels like we have been on the frontlines of confusion. Schools were closed early for spring break, then for extended spring breaks, and then not opening for the rest of the school year, and now teetering on a knife’s edge between in-person and remote learning – Or hey, do both at the same time!  We’ve all been thrust into this chaos of uncertainty, and it’s exhausting.  

Through all of this, district and campus leaders have spent countless hours strategizing on how to best support students and teachers during this pandemic. This has led to, quite literally, an explosion of resources, programs, digital tools that provide immense possibilities but decision fatigue as well. Unfortunately, most teachers have been left to tinker and fiddle with their endless pool of resources at their disposal, trying to figure out what works best. 

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Because that’s what educators do. We don’t stop until we know we are doing the very best we can for our students!

Most all of our e2L partner districts knew their teachers were being overwhelmed by the flood of resources being thrown at them this school year and were convinced that the very best they can do for their students was to provide one-on-one instructional support with an e2L eGrowe Certified Coach.

Our partners knew now more than ever that continuing to provide coaching support to their teachers and administrators was just what they needed to ensure their teachers would be able to successfully navigate the unknown.  

In a world where cutting out a “program” would have been easier, our partners stayed true to their course and decided that coaching was not just another program, but it was a game-changer! They knew that coaching through a pandemic was exactly what needed to be done, and guess what? They were right!

Coaching Through a Pandemic

Aransas Pass ISD

In Aransas Pass ISD, not only did they make the decision to continue with coaching, but they wanted to start early before the school year even started.  Superintendent Cara Cooke and Curriculum & Instruction Director Shelley Dominguez made it abundantly clear that supporting their teachers during COVID through coaching was non-negotiable. 

They wanted their teachers to have a leg up and knew that starting early was the best approach to take. By front-loading coaching, before the school year even started, Aransas ISD teachers received the support of an expert educator who could be a thought partner as they planned and prepared for the students’ virtual return to the classrooms. 

Aransas Pass ISD teachers have since continually shared with the district leaders how much they valued their time with the e2L coaches. Having the support and guidance while navigating how to plan engaging virtual lessons was invaluable.

“We gave [coaching] top priority. We believe this is getting the biggest bang for our buck in supporting our teachers so that we can get this right the first time with our students.”

Cara Cooke, Superintendent | Aransas Pass ISD

Judson ISD

Franz Elementary in Judson ISD is a recipient of TEA’s Blended Learning Grant Program (BLGP). Franz Elementary had just completed the design of the blended learning framework when the pandemic hit, but instead of slowing things down to regroup and “recover” from COVID, the district knew the instructional support e2L Coaches provide to their instructional coaches and teachers was essential. 

Kelle Lofton, Principal of Franz Elementary, knew coaching through the pandemic is just what they needed to provide the Instructional coaches and the teachers the tools they needed to be successful this year.  Through her own executive coaching, which started in January and continued through the summer, Ms. Lofton could see the impact that coaching had on her campus.  In fact, she shared that she was immediately able to see results of the coaching with her instructional coach after her first round of coaching.

“The planning sessions were on fire and exactly what we have been wanting. It was evident that [my teachers are] not only learning from the coaching conversations, but are able to turn it around and apply what [they] learned.”

Kelle Lofton, Principal | Franz Elementary School

RELATED: How Teacher Coaching Transformed My District

San Angelo ISD

San Angelo began working with us last school year and had just started coaching when the pandemic hit.  It would have been easy for them to put things on hold, but as Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, Shelly Heddleston, told us, “coaching is the way to support the administrators in reaching their specific campus goals.” 

Like so many other e2L partner districts, San Angelo ISD made the conscious decision to continue with coaching this school year and are already seeing the impact of coaching, even for campus administrators. Director of Campus Administration Support, Cheri Braden, said, “The engage2learn coaching has helped the San Angelo ISD principals feel like they are not alone in the work, and it has also helped them keep the focus on what is most important to move the campuses forward.” It’s so encouraging to see the value placed on establishing a true coaching culture!

Arlington ISD

In Arlington ISD, Short Elementary was in its second year in IR status when the pandemic hit. e2L had been coaching all of their teachers throughout the 2019-20 school year, and when the campus was forced to go into shutdown, Principal Katina Martinez noticed something remarkable; “When we had to go into shutdown, our teachers were so well prepared.” 

e2L coaching helped to shift the culture and prepare their teachers, and the continued virtual coaching through the end of the year helped their teachers implement instructional best practices using the various digital tools at their disposal, even through remote instruction. Ms. Martinez was so convinced of the impact e2L coaching was making on her campus, she brought us back for a second year of support!

Thriving in Uncertainty

So, I applaud these and so many of our partner districts because they had the vision and conviction to know that evidence-based, job-embedded coaching was not “one more thing.” It was the “one thing” their campuses and district needed to keep teachers thriving and kids learning! Your students are lucky to have you! 

At the risk of sounding too much like Dr. Suess, when you value a coaching culture, you can coach here, you can coach there, you can coach anywhere and even during, especially during…a pandemic! If you would like to learn more, check out the e2L Coaching and Partner Results pages, or if you are ready, start a partnership today!