One of the key initiatives of the ELP is to provide training to the teachers within the OECS Member States on reading instruction at the Grade K to 3 levels. Thereafter, monitoring and coaching is required to ensure that the training is being implemented effectively and eliciting the desired outcomes with students in the classroom.
Across the OECS Member States there are 30 ELP Coordinators who have become expert mentors in teaching reading instruction and monitoring in-class instruction. With only 30 coordinators, 2,832 teachers (Grade K to 3), and many dispersed schools in each country, it is extremely challenging to reach schools in all communities. Utilising technology, a virtual coaching project was piloted to determine whether this approach could effectively provide the critical in-classroom support to the teachers.
Communication software (Zoom® or Skype®) with a webcam to allow for an audio-visual connection via laptop computers enabled ELP coordinators to see the instruction and classroom responses. Bluetooth® headsets enabled teachers to privately receive audio advice from the coordinator as the class was in progress. This was followed up by a post-lesson conference via communication software. Although the pilot project highlighted a number of areas that need to be improved for the virtual coaching to effectively work, the ELP is planning to continue to support the professional development of the OECS teachers through virtual coaching in all six participating Member States, recognising that as teachers develop professionally through job-embedded initiatives, the students will have greater gains in reading.
While the ELP continues to advance innovative early grade reading initiatives within the OECS, recognition of the quality of research and its substantial contribution to the extant knowledge on coaching and technology in education globally, by the Institute of Technology, Knowledge and Society, is a significant achievement for all collaborators. The article abstract can be found at the following link: https://doi.org/10.18848/1832-3669/CGP/v15i04/1-22
About OECS/USAID ELP:
The OECS/USAID Early Learners Programme is a Programme within the Education Development Management Unit of the OECS Commission and was established in March 2015 to improve the reading skills of children in the early primary grades with the goal of providing a foundation for improved learning outcomes and enhanced opportunities for students in the six (6) independent Member States of the OECS (Antigua and Barbuda, The Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines). The OECS/USAID ELP will run through to September 2020 developing and implementing several initiatives that continue the advancement of early grade reading throughout the OECS.