Digital Tools in Problem Solving Coaching Approach

ISTE Standard – Change Agent

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.

4 Replies to “Digital Tools in Problem Solving Coaching Approach”

  1. Video is certainly a powerful tool for coaching. And this product seems useful. You mention one question coaches and teachers should consider before using this resource. As you gain more experience in coaching, I wonder if there are other questions That should be addressed before any observation by a coach, whether the observation is in person or via video.

    1. Hi Les, in fact while I was writing this blog post I already had many questions in my mind about video coaching. Although I agree with its effectiveness and flexibility in coaching experience, there are many logistical questions in video coaching, for example when there is no third person to help video taping, how do coaches capture one on one interaction, student to student interaction, and class culture etc. I might explore deeper in the later post to address these wonders. Thank you!

  2. Hi Vivian, I was inspired by your suggestion on how clever use of digital tools such as texting, emails, facetime, and recording can increase the timeliness of coach-coachee interactions. Thank you for introducing Edthena too. It hadn’t occurred to me to use video recordings but not that I think of it after reading your post, it makes so much sense. I might actually give this approach a try!

  3. Hi Vivian, I am deeply interested in the ideas you share on digital tools for a coaching relationship. Considering these tools as ways to deepen the efficacy of coaching rather than to simply make it more accessible and efficient is such a good idea. For example, I had not considered that one benefit of video use would be to improve coachee’s self-reflection (“Video has been shown to anchor teachers’ abilities to critically and objectively examine their own instruction and to consider refinements.”).

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