School districts are beginning to utilize bug-in-ear coaching tactics as a professional development tool, with a coach watching a teacher in action via livestream and making suggestions in real time through an earpiece, Education Week reports.
Mary Catherine Scheeler, an associate professor of special education at Penn State University's College of Education, began researching the method in 2002 and claims its practicality is in its ability to address behaviors as they occur so they can be immediately corrected.
Research indicates that educators coached this way are more likely to use evidence-based practices during instruction and that teachers continue to improve after the sessions have ended.
Recent years have seen a rise in popularity for virtual coaching, where teachers record their lessons and coaches critique the video. But the bug-in-the-ear approach can save additional time and eliminate a step for teachers, allowing them to apply information in real time.
Additional research has been conducted by Kathleen Artman Meeker, an associate professor at the University of Washington College of Education, and Nancy Rosenberg, director of the university's Applied Behavioral Analysis program, who created a coaching program to assist paraprofessionals in teaching students. They specifically assisted the paras while they taught students to make self-advocacy statements that expressed their needs. The immediacy of the feedback proved helpful and the duo considered the program a success.
This type of technology can also assist teachers while delivering difficult material, including calculus. A teacher coach can be in the classroom or watching via live feed and provide the in-class teacher cues to help move the lesson forward. Saying terms like “check for understanding” and “back up and name the steps” can help ease a teacher through the steps of imparting knowledge to students.
Another study recently found that while bug-in-ear coaching methods have their benefits, educators still need time to reflect over the coaching session in order to make lasting improvements to their teaching style.
The fact that some teachers may find this type of coaching overwhelming and invasive should also be taken into consideration. Specifically, teachers who struggle with multitasking may have a hard time listening to someone in their ear while directing a class full of students. This approach is still fairly new, and there hasn't been enough research to definitively say whether it is a game-changer in the field of teacher coaching or not. But it does show promise.