Virtual Coaching for Effective Feedback

ISTE Student Standard

Standard 5: Professional Learning Facilitator

Coaches plan, provide and evaluate the impact of professional learning for educators and leaders to use technology to advance teaching and learning. Coaches:

b. Build the capacity of educators, leaders and instructional teams to put the ISTE Standards into practice by facilitating active learning and providing meaningful feedback.

Teacher effectiveness is a function of not only teachers’ personal qualities but also “schedules, materials, students, institutional incursions into the classroom, and the persistent clutter of reforms that teachers must accommodate (Hu & Veen, 2020). Hu and Veen (2020) also suggested that observation-based coaching is the use of a coach and in-class observation may enhance the coherence between coaching and the needs of individual teachers. In this kind of PD intervention, teachers are observed in their own classrooms with the help of a structured observation tool, and the observation is followed by a coaching conversation and a written report a few weeks later. A trained coach conducts both observation and coaching. Studies show that this approach is highly effective in increasing teachers’ teaching skills. However, as my peer Deanna pointed out how instructional coaches in our experience are typically leaders in the school, and straddle the line between in-classroom teachers and admin. It is important to provide growth evoking, non-evaluative feedback to coaching teachers. Are there any technology available for coaches to provide effective feedback without making teachers feel uncomfortable?

According to Rock and Gregg (2009), previous researchers have established that new and experienced teachers frequently report heightened levels of anxiety when they are being coached. The mere presence of coach who mostly are their supervisor, administrator, or colleague in a classroom implies that the teacher is doing something wrong. To help the teachers feel warm support instead of harsh scrutiny, receiving virtual coaching experiences might be an option to invite coaches who are not limited to school administrators. Virtual coaching can be done in the spirit of shared leadership with school administrators to offer support without monitoring and evaluating teachers’ performance.

In the most effective coaching and supervision paradigms, feedback to teachers is immediate (Scheeler, McAfee, & Ruhl, 2004). However, teacher observations often involve a mentor teacher or academic leader sitting in the corner and taking notes on various aspects of the class. The observation is then followed up by a conversation between the observed teacher and the observer. Many coaches don’t achieve immediacy in the traditional plan-observe-conference cycle so many use. Feedback often occurs long after the teaching episode and out of the teaching context.

Lynch (2019) suggested that Bug-in-ear technology can be a solution for coaches to provide real time feedback. Bug-in-ear technology is a proven method for improving the professional practice of frontline practitioners. Consisting mainly of a portable two-way radio with earpiece and microphone, bug-in-ear devices allow coaches or supervisors to give teachers immediate feedback while they are delivering instruction in their classrooms. “The primary difference between traditional classroom observations and this approach is, that the feedback is immediate, rather than being given after the lesson.” Lynch (2019) believed that this approach highlights the importance of immediate, actionable feedback in the process of professional development as it allows the teacher to make changes and see the results in real time. The advice can be as simple as giving students more time to respond to questions or varying the tone of voice so that it is more engaging to students. Another positive effect of immediate feedback is that it prevents incorrect practices from becoming a habit.

Lynch (2019) listed the following suggestions for coach and teachers to start with Bug-in-ear coaching.

  • Teachers will need practice distinguishing the voice of the coach from other noises in the classroom and incorporating changes into a lesson that is in progress.
  • Virtual coach needs to know how direct to be with the teacher based on the relationship between teacher and coach develops.
  • Virtual coach needs to set goals with the teacher who will be observed and to keep those goals in mind during the coaching session.
  • Virtual coach should offer far more encouraging, supporting statements than corrective or instructive ones.

Rock and Zigmond(2011) suggested it is feasible using most school districts’ existing technology resources and most teachers’ existing level of technology know-how to use virtual coach with earpiece and they listed the possible cost and required equipment for teachers and coaches:

Teachers will need

A wide-angle webcam (Creative Live Web Cam Live! Ultra; $44.66)

A Bluetooth adapter (IOGEAR’s Bluetooth USB Adapter with Enhanced Data Rate; $18.48)

A Bluetooth headset (Bluetooth Headset; $49.99)

Coaches will need

An external hard drive (External Drive Maxtor OneTouch 4 1TB; $179.99)

A headset with microphone (Plantronics Audio 400 DSP Foldable USB Headset; $49.95)

A webcam and microphone, if these are not built into the coach’s computer. We have used the Creative Live Web Cam Live! ($44.66) and Plantronics. Audio 400 DSP foldable headset ($79.95).

Finally, as with other types of coaching, one of the keys to virtual coaching via an earpiece is that it is important for the coach to point out strengths the teacher has and not to focus only on their areas of weakness. This will help to ensure that the teacher does not perceive the virtual coach as a spy or a someone trying to catch them doing something wrong (Lynch, 2019).


Hu, Y. & Veen, K., (2020). How Features of the Implementation Process Shape the Success of an Observation-Based Coaching Program: Perspectives of Teachers and Coaches. The Elementary school journal, 121(2), pp.283–310.

Rock, M. L., Gregg, M., Howard, P. W., Ploessl, D. M., Maughn, S., Gable, R. A., & Zigmond, N. P. (2009). See me, hear me, coach me. Journal of Staff Development, 30(3), 24-31.

Scheeler, M.C., McAfee, J.K., & Ruhl, K.L. (2004). Providing performance feedback to teachers: A review. Teacher Education and Special Education, 27, 396-407.

Lynch, M. (2019). With Coaching Via An Earpiece, Teachers Get Feedback In Real Time. The Tech Edvocate.

Rock, M., Zigmond, N., Gregg, M., & Gable, R., (2011) The Power of Virtual Coaching.

Digital Tools in Problem Solving Coaching Approach

ISTE Standard:  

Coaches inspire educators and leaders to use technology to create equitable and ongoing access to high-quality learning. Coaches: 

1a: Create a shared vision and culture for using technology to learn and accelerate transformation through the coaching process 

1c: Cultivate a supportive coaching culture that encourages educators and leaders to achieve a shared vision and individual goals. 

Coaching often viewed as for addressing problems of practice as intellectual and practical challenges, and coaches are often viewed as support for developing teachers’ knowledge and skills and strengthening teachers’ feelings of efficacy relative to students’ learning (Leighton, 2018). How could coach and teachers make greater use of digital tools to create new and more flexible coaching contexts, and use digital tools maximize professional support by connecting to identify and collaboratively search for solutions to a persistent problem of practice? 

According to Toll (2017), the problem- solving coaching model as occurring in a three- phase process: (1) identifying a problem; (2) describing it, using careful analysis of student data; and (3) deciding on a course of action to try something different after careful goal setting and brainstorming of solution. Within this model, it requires reflective conversations to help teachers see instruction more objectively. Leighton (2018) explained that coach needs to establish a systematic and intentional review of one’s teaching actions to gain insight. Through reflection, teachers not only identify what is working but also acknowledge aspects of instruction where small changes might lead to greater gains in students’ literacy learning. However, engaging in this type of thoughtful, recursive process of coaching as problem solving takes time and dedicated effort. Digital technology can be the answer to enhance the coaching interaction to be more flexible and accessible. The blow graph demonstrates the use of texting, emails, facetime, and recording to increase the consistency and timeliness of coach and teacher interactions. 

Social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have been effective in helping teachers forge peer networks that enabled them to share content and pedagogical experience. The most common digital technology is using video as a tool for teachers to examine their own practice and reflect. Video has been shown to anchor teachers’ abilities to critically and objectively examine their own instruction and to consider refinements. In addition, recorded video can also ease the logistical challenges coaches face when they try to observe in-person enough of the right lessons to help teachers improve. In this blog post, I will be exploring the video coaching tool Edthena to understand the effectiveness of maximize professional support by using the problem solution approach in coaching.  

Edthena allows teachers to upload videos of themselves teaching and share it with peers and coaches, who then comment on the video. The product is designed so that reviewers can quickly jump to specific comments or moments in the video, and to facilitate conversation about a video, rather than one-off comments. The product requires a paid license to use. 

Introduction to Edthena 

According to Edsurge’s review on this video coaching tool, the prerequisite for using the core features of Edthena is a video of a teacher teaching. Videos can be recorded from any device with a video camera (computer, smartphone, standalone video camera, etc.) and uploaded to Edthena. Once a video is uploaded, teachers add additional contextual information and can share their videos with other Edthena users; by default, videos uploaded to Edthena are private and can only be seen by the uploader. Videos can be shared with individual educators or coaches, or with pre-determined groups. The core of the Edthena tool is the ability to watch and comment on teacher videos. Users watching a video click a button to pause the video and add time-stamped comments. These comments are categorized as questions, suggestions, strengths or notes. Comments can also be tagged with a standardized framework. After a comment is completed, a bright mark remains on the timeline of the video, allowing the video’s uploader (or other users) to jump quickly to comments in the video. A feed at the bottom of the page also summarizes these comments and allows a user to jump to them.

Teachers and coaches can also use these features to have a conversation about teaching practice, rather than to specifically review a fellow teacher. For example, through Edthena users can access thousands of recorded lessons from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching Project. Users can watch and comment on these videos as they would one that they have uploaded themselves.

Coaches can also use Edthena to design “Explorations” for educators, custom learning plans in which educators can also share non-video evidence of their learning. Within Explorations, Coaches can set rubrics for teacher evaluation and assess their progress on the rubric over time. Edthena allows coaches and teachers to track growth on the rubric over time.

Karen who is the Professional Learning Coach in St Vrain Valley Schoo District, Colorado shared her feedback in this product that it has had a tremendous impact on shaping teacher behavior and inevitably affecting student achievement. Teachers who use Edthena in her district are gifted with the opportunity to refine their craft by focusing on elements of their instruction, soliciting feedback from coaches or colleagues on that instruction and then making adjustments based on feedback.

Besides Edthena, Voxer, Google Hangouts, QuickTime, and Screencastify are also effective tools to create interactive, flexible, and feedback based coaching experiences. Productive coaching interactions are often constrained by limitations of time, the structure of the school day, and available resources. The wide array of digital tools now readily available through technology devices allows for coaches and teachers to think innovatively and creatively about how they meet and work collaboratively search for solutions to a persistent problem of practice. (Leighton, 2018)


Leighton, C., et al., (2018), “Let’s FaceTime Tonight”: Using Digital Tools to Enhance Coaching. The Reading Teacher P1-11 file:///Users/vivili/Desktop/2018-Leighton_et_al-Reading_Teacher-with-cover-page-v2.pdf

Toll, C.A. (2017). A problem- solving model for literacy coaching practice. The Reading Teacher, 70(4), 413–421.

Review of Edthena. Edsurge.

Community Project – Breakout Rooms in Remote Learning Classrooms

ISTE Coaching Standard 3 – Collaborator

Coaches establish productive relationships with educators in order to improve instructional practice and learning outcomes. Coaches:

3a. Establish trusting and respectful coaching relationships that encourage educators to explore new instructional strategies.

3b. Partner with educators to identify digital learning content that is culturally relevant, developmentally appropriate and aligned to content standards.

3c. Partner with educators to evaluate the efficacy of digital learning content and tools to inform procurement decisions and adoption.

3d. Personalize support for educators by planning and modeling the effective use of technology to improve student learning.

Although teachers and researchers agree that heritage language learners are better served in separate courses specifically designed to address their affective and linguistic needs, in the United States most heritage speakers study their home language in mixed classes, alongside second language learners (Beaudrie 2012, Carreira 2014). Meeting the needs of heritage language learners in these mixed classes represents a major challenge for teachers at all levels. 

In February, I was honored to present as one of the panel speakers in the 2021 Heritage Language Symposium hosted by the STARTALK program from the University of Washington. This professional learning opportunity was designed for all language teachers from Kindergarten to Higher Education. 

This Professional Learning event was hosted online using the Zoom Live event in February. This symposium began with a Keynote Speaker, Olesya Kisselev, PhD who is the Assistant Professor at the University of Texas San Antonio. She addressed the environmental and cognitive processes that shape the nature of Heritage Language learners’  knowledge and discussed how to develop a theoretically-sound and research-based approach to language pedagogy that accounts for specific linguistic and cultural needs of the two populations in the modern language classroom. Her presentation was followed by me and other 3 panel speakers. My 20 minutes presentation mainly focused on the difficulties we have encountered in our mixed classes, particularly while adjusting to remote teaching during Covid-19 and shared the strategies to use breakout rooms in MS Teams to make small group teaching in the online and hybrid model that accommodates  our heritage language learners in online learning contexts. 

Before the presentation, we surveyed all the participants to have them share their questions related to teaching heritage language learners in mixed language class and challenges they encountered during remote learning. We also survey teachers to understand their experience and current challenges using educational tools like MS Teams, Zoom, Flipgrid and others. We had a question board available for participants to submit their questions during the presentation and we dedicated the last 20 minutes as a live interacted FAQ session with all the participants. 

My presentation began by sharing effective digital classroom management practices to create a respectful and responsible online learning culture. Digital classroom management practice related to breakout rooms in remote learning class focus on the digital citizenship agreement in this presentation included the following: 

1. Resource for Digital Citizenship agreement was provided to teachers in one of the slides. Digital Citizenship Primary School Agreement

2. Establish Norms for small groups by practicing good citizenship & “Make sure everyone else gets it!”

3. Assigning Roles for small group to have facilitator, note taker, presenter, checker 

4. Set Goal for each small group activities by having each group provide  evidence of productivity (notes, task result, presentation, report etc. )

5. Use Recording feature in Breakout Room

6. Assign students in the same group for at least twice in a role to build routine and team culture 

My presentation was mainly focusing on using and evaluating Microsoft Teams to create small groups for differentiation in a class to meet the needs of heritage language learners and second language learners. Therefore, Microsoft Teams is the targeted digital tool in this presentation, but all the strategies applied to Zooms, Google Meets or any remote conferencing tools that have the features to create breakout sessions. This presentation was personalized to skip the instruction of using breakout room features in Microsoft Teams because we surveyed all participants and they had  experience using MS Teams or Zooms breakout rooms features.

In this presentation, grouping strategies and samples of breakout session works were provided for educators to make adoption in their own practices. 

The workshop and all materials were recorded and continued to be available in the 2021 HERITAGE LANGUAGE SYMPOSIUM official page for participants to review and use as resources after the workshop.

I am looking forward to delivering this presentation to language teachers in my district. One adjustment I will make depending on the number of participants is to create breakout sessions for teachers who teach in a similar grade level to work on a grouping scenario by using the norms, roles and agreement I demonstrated in the presentation. I believe more interactive online workshops are more effective and engaging for participants. 

Social Media in Teaching and Learning

ISTE Coaching Standard 3 Collaborator

Coaches establish productive relationships with educators in order to improve instructional practice and learning outcomes. Coaches:

b.Partner with educators to identify digital learning content that is culturally relevant, developmentally appropriate and aligned to content standards.

c.Partner with educators to evaluate the efficacy of digital learning content and tools to inform procurement decisions and adoption.

Social media has become ubiquitous. Educators have been using social media in their personal lives and professional teaching. Although research has shown that social media can be used as an effective educational tool for educators to enhance educators’ network of contacts, engage students in important discussions, extend educators’ own learning and even provide a platform for students learning. How to support educators to identify and evaluate the use of social media in teaching and learning to address the concerns of privacy and safety for himself and students? 

A research from the University of Central Florida reported that electronic devices and social media create an opportunity for the students for collaborative learning and also allow the students to share the resource materials to their peers. Social media also allows the students to create, edit and share the course content

s in textual, video or audio forms. These technological innovations give birth to a new kind of learning culture, learning based on the principles of collective exploration and interaction (Ansari & Khan, 2020). While we know the effectiveness of social media in creating opportunities for learners in collaborative learning, creating and engaging the students in various activities, do most teachers agree and incorporate social media in their teaching?

Seaman and Tinti-Kane (2013) conducted a study using a representative sample of teaching faculty from across all of higher education, the study probes their use of social media, as well as what value they see in including social media sites as part of the instructional process. Research points out that ​​educators are much more willing to embrace social media in their personal lives than they are to use it for professional or teaching purposes. Use of social media for teaching purposes has increased every year. However, the number of educators who use social media in the classroom still does not represent a majority, but teaching use continues its steady year-to-year growth. Concerns about privacy, both for themselves and for their students, and about maintaining the class as a private space for free and open discussion, have been at the top of the list of concerns in all of the reports.

The result showed that faculty members have not widely or uncritically embraced social media for teaching purposes because they continue to have many concerns. Faculty with concerns about privacy were asked about five different specific privacy issues for students and faculty.

The study also pointed out that until educators feel that this issue has been addressed, the wide-scale adoption of commercial social media tools in the classroom will remain limited.

There are the Dos and Don’ts of using social media for teachers suggestions from Knoll (2017). 

  • Do stay in contact with your students through the power of texts.
  • Don’t connect directly with students.
  • Do follow colleagues you know, respect and like.
  • Don’t follow colleagues you don’t know, don’t respect or don’t like.
  • Do show what you are proud of.
  • Don’t share personal pictures or tag other teachers.
  • Do encourage students to make the most of their social media accounts.
  • Don’t use social media to tell stories that don’t reflect well on you or your profession.
  • Do talk to your students about the ramifications of their social posting.
  • Don’t post during school hours.

It can be a challenge to incorporate social media into lessons. There are many gray areas for teachers to navigate, like setting guidelines, accessibility at school, and student safety. Here are some helpful resources for four popular networks, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest for teachers (Davis, 2013). 

Guild to Use Twitter in Your Teaching Practice 

Facebook Guide for Teachers 

The Educator’s Guide to Instagram and Other Photo Apps

40 Ways Teachers Can Use Pinterest In The Classroom

According to Magid and Gallagher(2015), social media is part of the world we live in and, even if you don’t use it, chances are that it affects you simply because many of the people around you – including students, colleagues and parents – are using it. When used thoughtfully, social media can enhance educators’ network of contacts, engage students in important discussions, extend educators’ own learning and even provide a platform for class projects. Social media services and apps can also be used as educational tools, but there are important issues to consider including privacy, appropriate content, security and educators’ comfort level with the apps and services.


Ansari, J.A.N., Khan, N.A. (2020), Exploring the Role of Social Media in Collaborative Learning the New Domain of Learning. Smart Learn. Retrieved August 14th from

Seaman, J., Tinti-Kane, H., (2013), Social Media for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved August 14th from file:///Users/vivili/Downloads/social-media-for-teaching-and-learning-2013-report.pdf

Knoll, K., (2017), The Dos and Don’ts of Social Media for Teachers. Retrieved from August 14th from

Davis, M., (2013), Social Media for Teachers: Guides, Resources, and Ideas. Retrieved from August 14th from

Magid, L., and Gallagher, K.(2015), The Educator’s Guide to Social Media. Retrieved from August 14th from

Differentiated Technology Integration PD for Educators

ISTE Coaching Standard 3 Collaborator

Coaches establish productive relationships with educators in order to improve instructional practice and learning outcomes. Coaches:

d.Personalize support for educators by planning and modeling the effective use of technology to improve student learning.

While teachers are expected to differentiate their instruction to meet their students’ needs, too often we treat professional learning differently than we treat student learning. Differentiation has not been modeled well in most of the professional developments for educators, especially in technology integration professional developments. How to ensure coaches and leaders differentiate and personalize educators’ training and professional developments in learning technology to meet the needs of educators with different knowledge and backgrounds in technology?

According to Randi and Zeichner (2005), the current emphasis on accountability for student performance on national and state tests has been directing some schools to select particular curriculum interventions and research-based practices they deem most likely to improve instruction and increase student achievement and then design staff development programs around the content of those interventions. In order to “demonstrate immediate results, schools may pay more attention to “what works” in the short term than to research findings about

how best to design and sustain teacher professional learning opportunities for the continuing growth of both teachers and students” (Randi & Zeichner, 2005, p180). 

Randi and Zeichner argued that although focused staff development activities designed to introduce or sustain the implementation of a common curriculum may build organizational capacity and unite teachers around the shared visions of the organization, they provide teachers little choice about their own professional learning and little autonomy in instructional decisions, which limits teachers’ choices about their own learning and limits their access to knowledge and may leave them with an insufficient knowledge (Randi & Zeichner, 2005, p194)

According to the Center for Public Education’s Teaching the Teachers report, almost all teachers participate in PD throughout the year. However, a majority of those teachers find the PD in which they participate ineffective.Therefore, Zdonek(2016) suggested that the following simple but effective strategies to improve teacher professional development sessions through differentiation:

1. Gauge teachers’ readiness by taking a survey of teachers to see what they know about a professional development topic, and how skilled they consider themselves in that area. This information will also allow you to tailor the PD session to meet teacher needs, designing smaller group sessions with flexible groupings to instruct teachers at their varying readiness levels.

2. Utilize teachers’ interests by taking some time to figure out what teachers themselves want to improve upon. When they work on areas of their interest, they’re more likely to be engaged, making the work more productive — just like with students.

3. Get teachers involved by allowing teachers that have skills or experience to run smaller group sessions. It provides leadership opportunities for teachers and develops a sense of ownership over the school improvement process.

4. Provide opportunities for continual assessment by providing time for teachers to discuss and reflect on how they are incorporating the given area of development into their classroom practice. Have opportunities for feedback, allow teachers to set goals, provide continuous support, and assess progress toward the goals they’ve set.

In addition to these general PD strategies, we might also want to look specifically into professional development focusing on technology integration for educators. The goal of successful technology professional development is its integration into teaching to impact student learning. Teachers are participating in technology learning professional development with different readiness and background.

Professional development provides educators the opportunity to understand new advancements and adapt their teaching styles and pedagogy to make effective use of available educational enhancements. How to ensure these PDs are customized to meet educators’ needs? Moynihan (2014) recommended the following 7 tips for integrating technology professional development. 

  • Provide ongoing support by delivering immediately usable solutions to the daily challenges that teachers will face when making major curricular changes in their subject areas.
  • Promote understanding of technology pedagogical practices by providing extensive training in both pedagogy and technology.
  • Encourage teacher participation because teachers who participate in a PD program that includes coaching or mentoring are more likely to implement new instructional methods.
  • Adopt a learner‐centered pedagogy because technology is less effective when used to support traditional “teacher‐centered” pedagogies, which tend to use technology as a supplement rather than as a core element of instruction.
  • Provide access to online information repositories that offer teachers continuous and convenient access to relevant teaching resources.
  • School structure should be “policies, practices, culture, and funding” to facilitate the integration of educational technology.
  • Make use of the technologies that teachers will be using. The ISTE notes that “learning with technology is more important than learning about technology.” Teachers benefit by seeing what and how they can learn through available technological tools.

Mazzella(2011) suggested technology can make a difference in supporting student learning, however, this cannot happen by merely providing classrooms with the latest equipment. Instructional technology integration will occur across all grade levels and in all content areas when it is supported by professional development that is differentiated and sustained over time.


Randi, J. and Zeichner, K. (2005). New Visions of Teacher Professional Development. 

Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education 103(1):180 – 227. Retrieved July, 28th, 2021 from

Zdonek, P. (2016). Why Don’t We Differentiate Professional Development?. Retrieved July, 28th, 2021 from

Moynihan, A. (2014) 7 PD tips for your instructional technology integration plan. Retrieved July, 28th, 2021 from

Mazzella, N, (2011). What are We Learning About Technology Integration and Professional Development? Retrieved July, 28th, 2021 from

Teacher Coach Relationship-Building Alliances with Effective Feedback

ISTE Coaching Standard 3 Collaborator

Coaches establish productive relationships with educators in order to improve instructional practice and learning outcomes.

3a. Establish trusting and respectful coaching relationships that encourage educators to explore new instructional strategies.

Feedback is a critical element in a coaching relationship and it is an important part of respectful relationship building between coaches and teachers. What strategies are most effective to help coaches to provide feedback and build alliances with teachers and lead to improved their teaching instruction and practices? 

According to Hatties and Timperley(2007), feedback is conceptualized as information provided by an agent regarding aspects of one’s performance or understanding, and feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement, but this impact can be either positive or negative. They also believed that there is a clear distinction between providing instruction and providing feedback. “Feedback needs to provide information specifically relating to the task or process of learning that fills a gap between what is understood and what is aimed to be understood (P82).” 

How can coaches make feedback effective? According to Finley (2017), most coaches understand that feedback should be timely, actionable, specific, and related to agreed-upon learning outcomes. But even when it meets those criteria, feedback can still backfire when unsuccessfully calibrated to a teacher’s abilities. It is important to determine when to use four main types of feedback and with whom:

1. Diagnostic feedback describes why a lesson has not succeeded and clarifies the teaching principles that will support improvement. Best for teachers lacking key concepts that would help them understand why a lesson hasn’t worked. It helps teachers understand more fully the reason for their struggle and clarifies for them the expectations for their future performance and core principles that should guide their work. 

2. Prescriptive feedback provides specific directions about what to do differently. This kind of feedback helps teachers understand what options they have to improve and what they should do next. Thus, it’s best suited for those who have tried something unsuccessfully and need specific help or direction to improve.

3. Descriptive feedback narrates the teaching performance in detail, including what did and didn’t work. Best for teachers who reflect effectively and deeply understand fundamental elements of instruction. However, this feedback will not be as effective for those who are still struggling to understand or implement the basics or for those who are not reflective.

4. Micro-feedback adjusts or “tweaks” successful lessons. It works best with teachers who have already demonstrated a degree of expertise. Micro-feedback provides small nuances, tweaks, and minor adjustments that will significantly improve an already good performance. This kind of feedback not only adds value to effective teachers’ performance but also keeps those teachers consistently improving and growing.

According to the National Center for Systemic Improvement(2005), after learning how to choose the right kind of feedback to inspire and motivate teachers to improve, coaches should be clear that critical coaching practice includes the development of a trusting and respectful teacher–coach relationship, also referred to as alliance. Strong alliance between teachers and coaches establishes a solid foundation for subsequent work between the dyad. 

Table 1 from Effective Coaching: Improving Teacher Practice and Outcomes for All Learners (2005) summarizes critical coaching practices and offers suggestions for when these practices can be used by coaches and Table 2 summarizes the strategies correspond to three primary factors of alliance that coaches can use to build alliance with teachers. 

Many schools and districts implement coaching as a method for improving teacher practice and learner outcomes. It is important to ensure that coaching consists of effective coaching practices to produce powerful changes in teaching and learning-educators. 


Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81–112.

Finley, T.(2007). Feedback Strategies for Coaches and Administrators. Retrieved from

Effective Coaching: Improving Teacher Practice and Outcomes for All Learners (2005). National Center for Systemic Improvement, Retrieved from

Teaching Empathy in Digital Learning Environment

STE Standards for Educators

3 – Citizen – Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.

3a. Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.

When students and teachers are bewildered by the endless mass of streaming content, the average person spends upwards of 10.5 hours a day in front of a screen instead of socializing in person. How can educators help students develop empathy in the digital learning environment and are there any digital tools available for educators to use in teaching empathy? 

What is Empathy? 

Empathy can be divided into two parts with different meanings. Emotional empathy is the natural ability to share how another person is feeling. For example, we get happy when a friend shares her recent engagement, or feel sad when others are crying. Cognitive empathy, on the other hand, takes more conscious effort. It’s putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, or understanding why someone is feeling sad without yourself feeling the same way(Noonoo, 2019).

Both empathy and cognitive empathy increase a person’ ability to communicate a relationship and help people to cultivate shared experiences and bring essential understanding to our differences, such as kindness, helpfulness, collaboration, authentic connection, happiness and joy are all byproducts of empathy expression. (Howell, 2017)

Teaching Empathy in Digital Learning Environment 

According to Howell(2017), research has shown digital stimulation associated with screen time can damage an area of the brain called the insula. This area is directly related to empathy development along with other brain activities such as executive functioning. All of this is hugely important to the brain functions and happiness of our students. He also believes that empathy requires time and attention to active listening and thoughtful speaking, empathy development is deep and sustained eye contact, especially in times of conversational discomfort, and it cannot exist without vulnerability either.

In order to understand what others are feeling, one must first find that experience within himself/herself and have the cognitive and emotional ability to bridge that feeling and enter a relationship to access empathy (Howell, 2017). Can these learned skills be taught virtually? 

Virtual reality has been used successfully in exposure therapy, a psychotherapy approach that systematically introduces triggers to help overcome phobias and trauma. Can virtual simulations teach a human skill like empathy which requires understanding and sympathizing with real people? 

“When virtual simulations attempt to build more empathy, they do it by presenting scenarios that are often emotionally fraught, stressful or challenging—and maybe a little dramatic. The goal is to provoke an emotional response in participants and give them a taste of what that situation can feel like from someone else’s perspective”(Noonoo, 2019). A simulation software from a company called Kognito, which specializes in creating one-on-one virtual conversations, and they believe that virtual humans dynamically react to individual choices in simulation will remember those dialogue choices going forward. In addition, when a digital character has a memory, they start to feel more alive, and create a better opportunity to practice empathy skills. (Zeiger, 2019)

In addition to using virtual simulations, there are steps to teach empathy in our digital learning community according to Stanfield (2019). 

Step 1: Assess your Student’s Empathy Skills

• Emotional sharing

• Empathic concern

• Perspective-taking

Step 2: Teach the Language of Empathy

Step 3: Teach the Skills

• Self-Regulation

• Connecting with Others

• Sympathy for Others

• Cognitive Empathy & Perspective Taking

• Reading Faces, Tone, and Other Communication Subtleties:

Step 4: Put it in Context, one example is having the variety of guest speakers that are available remotely. Kids can meet people from different backgrounds that they might not otherwise be able to meet and see new perspectives.

Step 5: Practice Makes Perfect by helping kids get a chance to feel what it is like to be in situations they haven’t yet encountered by using virtual reality. 

However, Noonoo(2019) also points out that simulations are also an imperfect substitute for in-person interaction, because when people are talking with each other, behavior can change. The confidence we feel in a controlled scenario might not carry over to a real life situation.


Noonoo, S., (2019). Can Virtual Simulations Teach a Human Skill Like Empathy? EdSurge.

Howell, M., (2017). Developing Empathy in the Digital Age. edCircuit

Zeiger, B., (2019). Strengthening Empathy Skills: From Digital to Reality. Kognito.

Stanfield, J., (2019). How to Use Technology to Help Students Develop Empathy. James Stanfield.

How Can We Make Virtual Conference Work for Everyone?

ISTE Standards for Educators

5 – Designer – Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability.

5a. Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.

Educators have been using virtual conferences technologies to create and deliver content and social emotional learning experiences to students due to the pandemic remote learning. While all teachers are using virtual conference tools like Zoom and Teams with their students, how do these virtual conference tools accommodate learner differences and needs? In this post, I am going to compare Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet accommodation to users with disabilities. I will also explore virtual meeting engagement strategies and practices that meet learners with different learning styles. 

Learners/ Presenters with Disabilities

(Wetherbee & Caruthers, 2020)
MS Teams 
(Nopanen, 2019)
Google Meet
(Wetherbee & Caruthers, 2020)
-Keyboard Navigation
-Screen Reader Support
-Live Closed Captioning by Human
-Automated Live Closed Captioning
-Low Vision Support
-Transcription of Recording
-Live Captions
-Translation feature in chat
-Zoom feature
-Zooming presented content
-Dark mode or high contrast mode
-Immersive reader
-Voice message on mobile device
-Shortcut keys
-Focus time and notification settings
-Voicemail: speech to text
-Speaker Attribution (adding speakers’ names to captions)
-Automated Live Closed Captioning
-Compatible with magnifiers and screen readers
-Limited Keyboard Navigation
-Spoken feedback

Among the three popular virtual conferencing tools, Microsoft Teams has invested heavily in its user accessibility. However, according to the article “Hosting Accessible Online Meetings” from the University of Washington, the most effective strategies to ensure online meetings are accessible are not technical strategies. They involve the following practices:

  • Distribute slides and all other materials to attendees in advance.
  • Clearly state the meeting agenda up-front, including which features of the meeting tool will be used.
  • Ask meeting participants to state their name each time they speak.
  • Create pauses during and between activities, so students who are taking notes, students with slow Internet bandwidth, or students using captions or sign language interpreters can catch up.
  • Don’t say “click here” if demoing something on the shared screen. Not everyone can see what you’re referring to. Students might be blind or have low vision, writing notes, looking at the textbook or dealing with a notification that popped up that they haven’t figured out how to turn off. Instead, specifically identify what you are clicking on.
  • All meeting participants can benefit from captions, both of live meetings and recorded meetings.

Learner Engagement in Virtual Meetings 

An engaged virtual meeting for students includes dynamic, interactive communication and the ability to create shared experiences together. Spencer(2020) recommended the following strategies to boost engagement in a virtual meeting. 

  • Do a social / emotional check-in
  • Incorporate movement
  • Use the Q&A feature
  • Use polls
  • Allow students to show off their pets
  • Use the chat function
  • Make use of hand-gestures
  • Incorporate silence
  • Integrate other platforms into the virtual meeting
  • Use breakout rooms strategically
  • Use hands-on learning to take it off-screen

Spencer(2020) also stated there is limitation to use virtual meetings for direct instruction, larger group discussion, and class presentation. He suggested if a prerecorded option is available for certain activities then pre recording might be a better option because class video conferences should be highly interactive and centered on deeper, free-flowing discussions, or to clarify ideas or make decisions together as a group.

Learners with DIfferent Learning Styles in Virtual Meetings 

Researchers recognized that different learners had different cognitive styles and habitual information-processing strategies that determine a learner’s typical mode of perceiving, remembering, thinking, and problem solving(Zapalska & Brozik, 2006).

According to Zapalska & Brozik (2006), Kinesthetic learning focuses on active participation in the learning experience. Unlike visual, auditory, read/write learners who are comfortable watching videos or reading textbooks, kinesthetic learners prefer to be in motion and engage all their senses. The article “Kinesthetic Learning in an Online Learning Environment” suggested the following strategies to meet our kinesthetic learners need in virtual meeting:

  • Enhancements to lectures such as including pictures or sound effects can help remind kinesthetic learners of the real-life situations that the material is related to and can thus increase retention.
  • Keep lectures short and novel and include interactive elements.
  • Send students on virtual field trips.
  • Remind students to take a break and walk around.
  • Help students visualize complex processes.

Teachers must understand how students learn, how they perceive, and how they process information. Learning styles of online students must be identified so that the instructor can plan appropriate teaching strategies to accommodate individual strengths and needs during virtual meetings. 

Regardless which virtual conference tool educators choose, the most effective strategies to ensure online meetings are accessible, engaging, and accommodating learner differences and needs are not technical features or strategies, educators need to incorporate meaningful practices to make learning and teaching effective.  


Hosting Accessible Online Meetings. Retrieved May 13, 2021, from

Nopanen, V. (2019). Microsoft Teams is also about inclusivity and accessibility. Retrieved May 15, 2021, from

Wetherbee, J., & Caruthers, B. (2020). UNC Charlotte. Retrieved May 15, 2021, from

Spencer, J. (2020). How to make virtual meetings more interactive for students. Retrieved May 15, 2021, from

Zapalska, A. & Brozik, D. (2006). Learning Styles and Online Education. Retrieved May 15, 2021, from

Kinesthetic Learning in an Online Learning Environment. Center for teaching and learning: Wiley education services. (2020). Retrieved May 15, 2021, from

Digital Portfolio for Educators

ISTE Standards

2 – Leader – Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and improve teaching and learning.

2c. Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.

A digital portfolio is a collection of digital works, they can be essays, posters, images, videos, and artwork. It can be different aspects of one’s life and interest, for example, work experience, employment history and other professional or personal related experience. Centre for Teaching Excellence suggests that a good digital portfolio should be more than just a collection of products, a good ePortfolio is both about being a product (a digital collection of artifacts) and a process (of reflecting on those artifacts and what they represent) (2017). According to Basken (2008) in the article “ePortfolios Explained: Theory and Practice”, ePortfolios “are a way to generate learning as well as document learning”.

Digital portfolios can be used by students to put together portfolios for capstone or research projects. Teachers can use a digital portfolio to create a professional portfolio or gather items around areas they would like to explore. According to Kilbane and Milman, research studies focusing on portfolios in teacher education have centered on preservice and not inservice teachers (2017). How can inservice teachers use digital portfolios as a tool to assess student learning and use as self reflection to demonstrate and improve teaching practices?

Kilbane and Milmant conducted a study with the purpose to examine high school teachers’ perceived impact on their teaching and their students’ learning resulting from the creation of digital portfolios by both the teachers and their own students. The result of study demonstrated that digital portfolio creation resulted in increased teacher learning about technology, a reexamination of their pedagogy, better comprehension of their students’ learning, reflective processes, and assessment, and reciprocal learning between teachers and students (Kilbane and Milmant, 2017). 

  • Teachers in the study indicated that using digital portfolios required a greater amount of time, challenged them to rethink existing planning and teaching practices, made teaching and students’ products more interesting, engaged students more in their own learning, incorporated more 21st century skills, and fostered a teaching and learning environment. 
  • The development of digital portfolios promoted increased use and integration of technology in teaching. 
  • Through the creation of their digital portfolios, teachers and students engaged in a reciprocal process of learning, in which teachers and students alike “struggled together to learn and create”.
  • Reflection, understanding (learning), and standards were all a part of the process for students to create their own digital portfolios. 
  • The development of digital portfolios changed not only how teachers planned, but also how they assessed or intended to assess their students, including how they viewed assessment.
Your Teacher Portfolio

There are many digital portfolio tools available for educators and students to choose from. I am investigating Bulb as a digital portfolio tool in this post to examine its usage in self reflection and demonstrate and improve teaching practices for educators.

According to Karlin, Bulb is a web based platform where students and educators can curate, create, share, and showcase works. The main goal of this platform is to provide a space where students and teachers can evaluate and share the meaningful works they have created. 

Currently, bulb has three plans to choose from:

When users first sign into the bulb, the main dashboard will show up and that is where users can create a Page or a Collection of pages. The free plan only allows 10 portfolio pages while the paid plan offers unlimited pages. One of the features for a paid plan is to create groups. It is beneficial for teachers when we want to add in groups for different classes and add students to groups. In the paid plans, Bulb can work in conjunction with learning platforms, with teachers sending out assignment details through their district required learning platform, and students submitting their work through a Bulb Page. Another feature of bulk is users can keep the portfolio even if they stop paying for it. They’ll get downgraded to the free plan after one year if they don’t renew their plan, but they won’t lose any of their pages. 

According to the CommonSense website review,  teachers can create their own Bulb collections and pages to share content for a unit or lesson. Assemble a series of primary-source images or articles as pages in a collection, and encourage students to review the pages and respond to them in writing or discussion. Each student also might contribute a page to a teacher-created collection. Students can submit responses that other students can then review and comment on. Alternatively, teachers can ask students to create their own pages or collections. Students can also use their Bulb collection as a place to show off their work over the course of the year or assemble a series of articles or images on a related topic. 

Teachers can use Bulk to track their professional development and demonstrate their growth.  Here’s an English teacher’s example from bulb’s website, which includes pages with professional evaluation, lesson plans, and samples of work that the teacher has created. 

Jessa Jones | bulb

However, the CommonSense website also points out that it lacks some of the assessment features that distinguish other portfolio tools available. Teachers and students can comment on each other’s pages, but there aren’t extensive features for tracking students’ submissions or offering ongoing feedback or formative assessment. 

In addition to all the reviews about Bulb, I also reflected on a comment made by my peer, Joey Halbert, on how technology tools for education should have low barriers for educators and students entry. The low barriers should meet the following criteria: No extra account creation, works on any device, low bandwidth, versatile, and free. While Bulk offers teachers a free upgrade to Bulb+ which include unlimited portfolio pages and storage, I highly hope they can consider this upgrade to students as well.


EPortfolios Explained: Theory and Practice. (2019, March 04). Retrieved April 30, 2021, from

Karlin, M., (2017, January 28). Bulb: Digital Portfolios for Students and Teachers. Retrieved April 30, 2021, from

Kilbane, C., Milman, N., (2017). Examining the Impact of the Creation of Digital Portfolios by High School Teachers and Their Students on Teaching and Learning. International Journal of ePorfolio.

Kievlan, P. (2021, April 06). Bulb review for teachers. Retrieved May 01, 2021, from

How to Demonstrate Cultural Competence in Your Class Blog or Website?

ISTE Standards for Educators 4B: Demonstrate cultural competency when communicating with students, parents and colleagues and interact with them as co-collaborators in student learning.

Due to the global pandemic, many educators have been teaching remotely and using a virtual space to replace physical classrooms. For most educators, an online platform is a place where we can assign student learning tasks, share resources, and gather feedback. As mandated from school districts, many educators have chosen applications like Google Classroom, Schoology, and Canvas. However, a class website or blog for a teacher can be another effective and creative option. The difference between blogs and websites is that all blogs are websites, but not all websites are blogs. A blog is just a website with a standard set of tools for organization of content built right in – called posts, which can be further organized using tags and categories(Burt & Morris, 2020). Blogs are made to deal with information that changes frequently while a website is great for things we want to leave up for a while. It is not well suited to daily changes.

Blog has been preferred by many educators because it comes with an interface that will allow teachers to easily attach keywords to each post, or automatically format the date and title of each post. It also provides a way for readers to leave comments on each post which website doesn’t. Regardless of choosing a website or blog for our class, how do teachers demonstrate cultural competency when using class blogs and websites communicating and interacting with students, parents, and colleagues? 

Cultural competence is the ability of a person to effectively interact, work, and develop meaningful relationships with people of various cultural backgrounds which can include the beliefs, customs, and practices in daily life (Rosario et al, 2016). According to research from the U.S Department of Education in 2010, 45% of students were from culturally diverse families. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2043, the U.S. will become a “majority minority” country. Therefore, educators working with students and families need to pay attention to culture which is one of the foundations of effective teaching and learning (Pang et al, 2011). 

While educators are using virtual environments like blogs and websites, they need to be culturally inclusive which means mutual respect, effective relationships, clear communication, explicit understandings about expectations and critical self-reflection.According to the article “Culturally inclusive environment”, in an inclusive environment, people of all cultural orientations can

  • freely express who they are, their own opinions and points of view
  • fully participate in teaching, learning, work and social activities
  • feel safe from abuse, harassment or unfair criticism

Culture is also a key factor in human growth and development, and the creation of effective

conditions for learning (Pang, 2010). One of the strategies for creating a culturally inclusive website or blog is choosing culturally responsive images to connect with students (Aguirre, 2020). Being intentional about the images we use in our blog and website has a profound impact on classroom culture because when students see themselves reflected in our virtual environment, they are more invested in what they are learning. Therefore, images we choose to use in my blog or website should reflect the students and families in our community, as well as those across the country.

Although the following strategies from “Promoting Culturally Competent Teaching” are not specifically for building class blogs and websites to demonstrate cultural competency, I find them share the same goal to promote a culturally competent environment for students and families. 

1. Recognize personal biases and how they may impact their expectations of students and families. Teachers can engage in readings and discussions about privilege or teachers can write personal identity stories that reflect on how their own identities are socially constructed.

2. Expand on teacher knowledge of their students’ cultural backgrounds. 

3. Include multiple cultural perspectives. 

4. Weave students’ own cultural backgrounds into curriculum through student-powered activities. 

5. Confront and engage in controversial topics. 

6. Engage parents and families by sending out regular communications and provide tools to translate information into different languages. 

Regardless of physical or virtual learning space, blogs or websites, our goal is to create a welcoming environment and establish the appreciation of similarities and differences among cultures.


Rosario T. de Guzman, M., Durden, T., Taylor, S., Guzman, J., & Potthoff, K. (2016, February). Cultural Competence: An Important Skill Set for the 21st Century. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from

Pang, V., Stein, R., Gomez, M., Matas, A. & Shimogori, Y., (2011, January). 

Cultural Competencies: Essential Elements of Caring-Centered Multicultural Education. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from

Burt, R., & Morris, K. (2020, May). Best Best Teacher Websites In This Time Of Remote Learning. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from

Culturally Inclusive Environment. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from

Aguirre, L., (2020, October). Choosing Culturally Responsive Images to Connect With Students.Retrieved April 15, 2021, from

Promoting Culturally Competent Teaching. (2017, August). Retrieved April 15, 2021, from