Make the Future
Summit 2022
Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Leadership Exchange
at ISTELive 21
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Reach ALL Educators through Virtual Coaching

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Wednesday, June 26, 1:00–2:00 pm
Location: 201A

Alexandria Brasili   Hannah Lakin  
Time, money and travel are often barriers to getting quality professional development and coaching to educators. We’ll illustrate how we reach rural educators as they improve their practice in teaching STEM through an innovative, virtual coaching model. Participants will leave with tools to adopt the model to their own context.

Audience: Coaches, Teachers, Professional developers
Skill level: Intermediate
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Zoom (
Vimeo Review Pages (No download or account necessary)
Focus: Professional learning
Topic: Professional learning models
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Coaches:
Digital Age Learning Environments
  • Coach teachers in and model use of online and blended learning, digital content, and collaborative learning networks to support and extend student learning as well as expand opportunities and choices for online professional development for teachers and administrators.
For Education Leaders:
Connected Learner
  • Participate regularly in online professional learning networks to collaboratively learn with and mentor other professionals.
  • Use technology to regularly engage in reflective practices that support personal and professional growth.
Related exhibitors: Zoom

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

In rural and isolated settings, where transportation is a major barrier to professional development opportunities, what is needed is a coaching system that is highly personal and yet takes place largely online. The purpose of this session is to help education leaders and coaches (both in-school and out-of-school) think about how to inexpensively virtualize their own professional development or coaching offerings to reach educators who may be isolated in some way. During this ISTE session, we’ll be sharing a model that allows for remote coaching and yet also has frequent opportunities for the coach to observe the educator in action and build an ongoing relationship of trust and support. We will share our success stories and highlight some of the challenges we have faced as well in employing a virtual coaching model.

Afterschool Coaching for Reflective Educators in STEM (ACRES), a project of the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance (MMSA) has been developing a virtual professional development model since 2015. ACRES is a nationally acclaimed coaching program that builds knowledge and skills so afterschool educators, librarians and anyone who works with youth in out-of-school settings can confidently facilitate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) experiences for youth. The heart of the ACRES model involves afterschool educators coming together virtually to share videos of their own interactions with youth. While the ACRES model has been developed primarily with afterschool and library educators, we believe a similar model and lessons learned could be applied to any professional learning community or educational group.

The ACRES project team is intentionally using ubiquitous technologies to keep the PD inexpensive and accessible. ACRES coaches use Zoom video conferencing and Vimeo Review Pages to support educator reflection. During the session, participants will experience these tools for themselves as they plan for how they might utilize the model.

This session will be successful if educators are able to see how they might virtualize their professional development offerings beyond a traditional webinar and create a preliminary plan for implementation. In order to reach success, educators will engage in small group discussions and activities that will elicit their ideas and experiences around virtual professional development, and obtain strategies for planning and implementing virtual PD.


(10 minutes) Introductions and ACRES Project Overview – During the short introduction, participants will have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the small group of educators at their table to get a sense of their current work and interests in this area. We will share some background information about virtual coaching and briefly describe the coaching cycle model used in the ACRES project.

(5 minutes) Why Virtual Coaching? – We will facilitate a discussion around participants’ online learning and professional development experiences. Part of this discussion will include the challenges of providing equitable PD opportunities for all educators, regardless of their geography, ability to travel, or schedule. We will also share some of the research findings that support using a video-based virtual coaching model with rural educators, while also sharing a couple of stories of educators who have participated in coaching.

(20 minutes) What would you do…? – This portion is intentionally placed to elicit participants’ ideas and explore thinking before jumping into some of the strategies we use in our coaching model. Participants will watch short clips of a coaching session in action and discuss the coaching moves they would take in each situation with their small group. These clips will elicit ideas about building trust, troubleshooting technology issues, modeling constructive feedback in a virtual setting, and more. We will use the video annotation tool on Vimeo Review Pages as a way of capturing some of these ideas.

(10 minutes) Strategies for Virtual Coaching – We will continue the small group discussions inviting participants to share strategies they have used or might use in each of the scenarios. In addition, we will share resources and specific strategies with participants on being an effective coach in a virtual environment. Here we will discuss logistics through a “how-to guide” on everything from creating a professional development timeline to getting the right photo/video release forms from educators and their students!

(15 minutes) Apply Learning – Participants will now have the opportunity to design their own virtual professional development for their context through a card arranging activity (both digital and tactile options available). The cards will have components of the virtual coaching model on them (i.e. recruit participants, facilitate an icebreaker, send Zoom connection information to educators, facilitate a skill workshop, etc.). Participants will arrange them in an order that makes sense for their context, and then debrief the exercise with other participants in their group.

Supporting research

National Recognition:
The ACRES project was publicly recognized in 2015 by President Obama as an innovative STEM education project funded by private funders. (White House Astronomy Night, Oct 19.)

Brasili, A. & Allen, S. (2018). Beyond the webinar: Creating radically engaging STEM Professional Development for online learners. Afterschool Matters (in press).
Brasili, A., Allen, S., & Foster, M. (2017). The ACRES project (Afterschool Coaching for Reflective Educators in STEM) Evaluation Report 1: Impacts on afterschool educators.
Brasili, A., Allen, S., & Foster, M. (2017). The ACRES project (Afterschool Coaching for Reflective Educators in STEM) Evaluation Report 2: Reflections of the coaches.
Lobley, J. & Ouellette, K.L., (2017) Using videoconferencing to create authentic online learning for volunteers. Journal of Extension 55 (5).
Allen, S. & Ouellette, K. (2016). Building coaching relationships over the internet. AfterSchool Today, 7(3), (pp.12-13).

For more information about our research, please go to

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Alexandria Brasili, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance
Hannah Lakin, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance

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