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“Bug-in-ear” coaching is becoming more popular in US classrooms, reports This is because the notion that making learning more effective depends on the ‘soft skills’ of the teacher – like pausing, appreciating student input and asking open-ended questions – is gaining traction.
Theoretically, the practice is simple: a teacher wears an earpiece as she teaches, while a colleague or mentor watches and listens elsewhere and provides instant feedback and suggestions. Then the two teachers meet after the lesson for a de-brief.
The idea was spearheaded in 2002 by Mary Catherine Scheeler, associate professor of special education at the College of Education at Pennsylvania State University, located in University Park, Pennsylvania. She says, “It’s efficient, because we’re correcting behaviours on the spot”.
Many teachers and school administrators in the US are pro bug-in-ear teaching.A well-known study, entitled The Power of
Virtual Coaching by Marcia L. Rock, Naomi P. Zigmond, Madeleine Gregg and Robert A. Gable, has become a guide for those schools wanting to up their teachers’ expertise.
Rock is one of the preeminent researchers in the field
and an associate professor in the school of education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has spent the last six years working with the state education department to fine-tune a bug-in-ear programme, currently operational in several North Carolina schools. An ear-piece costs
about $25.
“Bug-in-ear” coaching programmes are being developed
in other states too, like Washington, at the University of Washington’s College of Education, Rock says, “The teachers acclimate very quickly to the bug-in-ear technology. I’ve observed how within five to 10 minutes; teachers have been able to take the feedback and immediately change their practice within the classroom.”

Category: Winter 2019

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