This study, the first in a series examining the shifts in the roles and responsibilities of K-12 educators as a result of evolving instructional models, focuses on the relatively novel role of the blended learning coach. The researchers sought to understand more fully the driving motivations, philosophies, and general thought processes at play when blended learning coaches work with K-12 educators in Michigan to help bring about changes in K-12 instruction through the promotion of blending online and face-to-face instruction. The researchers observed five themes that encapsulate the work of the blended learning coaches who participated in this study. The coaches’ work was characterized by:
- Understanding and meeting the specific, contextual needs of educators
- Emphasizing sound instructional practice over technological tools
- Helping educators embrace a shift to student agency
- Encouraging a change in the learning environment
- Engendering collaboration between educators
Justin Bruno, Michigan Virtual
WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THIS TOPIC
Blended learning coaches, working for an outside organization, provide guidance to teachers, administrators, and other school- and district-level personnel about how to holistically and meaningfully customize face-to-face and online learning for K-12 students.
WHAT THIS REPORT ADDS
The work of blended learning coaches is grounded in five distinct themes, including a need to understand and serve specific needs of educators, focusing on sound instructional practice over technological solutions, embracing student agency, encouraging a change in learning environments, and engendering collaboration between educators.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE AND/OR POLICY
Insights gleaned from these blended learning coaches can be used to inform the practice of others filling similar roles within K-12 education, especially those who seek to promote shifts in instructional practice and provide customized, contextualized professional development and support to teachers. Additionally, since the blended learning coach role is relatively new, their practice can potentially serve as a model for new programs endeavoring to become involved in blended learning.