The Changing Roles of Educators Series: The Blended Learning Coach

Published on October 10, 2016
Written By: 

Justin BrunoMichigan Virtual

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.
ABSTRACT

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

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PREPARED BY

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.

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We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.