The Coaching Companion, a video sharing and coaching feedback app, is an integral part of the EarlyEdU Alliance model. It enables students to take what they learn in their college courses, apply it to their interactions with children, and then reflect upon their practice with peers and faculty. This gives instructors the opportunity to provide timely coaching and feedback.

Used in conjunction with the EarlyEdU Alliance materials, the Coaching Companion enables faculty to focus their time on observing student performance and giving quality feedback. The process not only builds competence in evidence-based teaching practices but also fosters valuable coaching skills for early learning professionals.

The EarlyEdU Alliance is developing a version of the Coaching Companion that states can use with their early learning workforce. For more information, contact info@earlyedualliance.org.

Features

Instructors can:

  • Create assignments and rubrics based on their own videos or their students’ videos
  • Group students into Communities of Reflection and Practice, where they comment on one another’s videos
  • Grade assignments within the app and export grades into an Excel spreadsheet

Students can:

  • Improve their skills in observation by viewing, reflecting, and commenting on a video uploaded by their instructor
  • Upload videos of themselves using specific teaching strategies and reflect on their practice
  • Practice giving feedback to their peers in Communities of Reflection and Practice
How It Works

Using a digital camera, smartphone, or tablet, students film themselves working with young children and upload their videos to the Coaching Companion. They watch their videos, reflect on their own practices, and write up their responses within the application. Students also receive feedback from their instructors, who can annotate videos within the Coaching Companion. Over time, students refine their skills in observation by watching videos of themselves and others, and see themselves grow professionally.

Coaching Companion assignments are like mini-research projects: students (1) learn the theory of a specific teaching practice, (2) plan to implement it, (3) test it in their work with young children, and (4) draw conclusions to inform future teaching activities. Instead of reading and grading traditional assignments, instructors see their students in action. They provide coach-quality feedback on what their students are actually doing with the knowledge acquired in the college classroom. Faculty are able to rigorously assess their students’ demonstrations of competencies throughout the term and observe their growth as effective teachers.

A Community of Reflection and Practice (CORP) feature is built into the Coaching Companion. In small CORP groups, students watch one another’s videos and practice giving one another feedback. They hone their observational skills and learn to give high-quality feedback, so that they become better colleagues as well as better teachers.

The Coaching Companion is built into many EarlyEdU Alliance courses. Alliance faculty can also use the Coaching Companion with any of their courses that include field experience.

Assignments

Within each course, scaffolded assignments develop students’ confidence in using video to effectively observe, reflect on, and plan for improvements in their teaching practices. The following sequence of assignments is built into many of our courses.

  1. Introductory Video
    The student makes a short video sharing some information about herself. She practices filming herself and uploading her video to the Coaching Companion. Members of her CORP group watch one other’s videos and write comments in response, to practice using the Coaching Companion and to get to know one another.
  2. Establishing a Baseline
    The student films herself engaged in an activity related to course content. She practices filming herself in her classroom. She uses the comments feature of the Coaching Companion to explain what she hoped to achieve in the activity. No other students watch this video; only she and the instructor can see it.
  3. Trying Out a Practice
    The student films herself trying out a specific practice learned in class. She also writes up her plans and goals for the activity and reflects on how it went. She identifies what she did that worked and plans for improving her use of the practice in future.
  4. CORP Group: Providing Feedback
    The student watches her CORP members’ videos of using a specific practice. She submits feedback to her peers through the Coaching Companion.
  5. Baseline Video: Final Reflection
    The student returns to her baseline video and reflects on her growth throughout the course. She identifies her strengths, considers how her teaching practices have developed, and makes plans for future improvement.
Practical Considerations

Recent research on workforce development underscores the importance of competency-based preparation, and the Coaching Companion allows students to work on refining their practices throughout their college coursework. But students may be uncomfortable with making videos of themselves. It may be challenging to find sites where students are able to film themselves working with young children. The EarlyEdU Alliance can provide suggestions for setting up field experiences, including finding alternative settings where students can work with young children. But if it is impossible for your students to find field experience sites, then EarlyEdU Alliance courses may not be right for you at this time.

The Coaching Companion is secure and FERPA-compliant. Users need a computer with basic video editing software, a digital video camera or a smartphone or tablet with video capability, and internet access. Alliance faculty have access to numerous resources to help them and their students use the Coaching Companion effectively.