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Online vs In-Person Early Education Coaching Models: Results From Child360’s Two-Year Study

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Child360, a Los-Angeles-based non-profit with a focus on early learning opportunities vital to succeed in school and life, recently released the results of an independent study comparing program costs and benefits of traditional in-person coaching versus online coaching for early education professionals. 

A similar feasibility study was conducted by the organization in 2016‐17 and the outcome suggested that online coaching had the potential to be an effective environment for Child360’s coaching model. As a result of the feasibility study, Child360 initiated this more robust two-year, full-scale study of online coaching to study a larger sample of teachers and coaches. “We decided to continue using TORSH [Talent which was a part of the original feasibility study] in this study because of anecdotal evidence that it allowed teachers and coaches to build trusting relationships through virtual face‐to‐face interactions, to set quality improvement goals, and to track progress toward goals.”

Instructional Coaching Model Comparison of Online versus In-Person and Blended

Over the 24 month period, six coaches worked with 215 teachers from 121 child care provider locations to provide resources, offer advice, and collaborate with them to create goals for their early learning programs. In Child360’s traditional coaching model, coaches typically conduct in‐person visits, in which they work one‐on‐one with teachers and administrators to help them improve their early learning programs through a cycle of appreciative inquiry, process consultation, feedback, reflection, and goal setting. The organization sought to determine if the adoption of an online coaching platform could positively impact reach, coaching dosage, and affordability while maintaining the level of quality achieved with their in-person model. 

Participants of the study were involved in all methods of coaching which included in-person, online and a hybrid of in-person and online. Online or hybrid participants engaged through the use of videos, allowing coaches to remotely observe teachers and their classrooms. They also added the use of video conferencing or online chats to conduct conversations in real‐time with teachers to provide feedback. All online activity was captured and tracked within the TORSH Talent platform. 

While most participants were new to the online coaching platform and had a bit of a learning curve when it came to incorporating video into their routines, as the study progressed, both coaches’ and teachers’ increasing familiarity and comfort with technology resulted in a positive overall experience. 

Child360’s 35-page report provides the raw data used to calculate time and cost savings, feedback from coaches and teachers, as well as the protocol documents used by participants. The organization also answers questions related to the impact of adopting an online coaching platform in relation to these key areas:

  • Expanding Access to Coaching Supports
    • Online coaching offers the considerable advantage of allowing teachers and coaches to collaborate regardless of the physical distance between them. Unfettered by the constraints of having to meet in person, Child360 coaches could potentially serve a much wider pool of providers. 
  • Building Better Relationships Between Teachers and Coaches
    • All teachers reported having positive relationships with their coaches. Through the expanded use of communications platforms  – text, phone, and email – Child360 helped some participants reduce initial worries about transitioning to an online coaching program. Teachers reported that their coaches were encouraging, supportive, and flexible.
  • Providing More Affordable Coaching Supports
    • This study prove that online coaching was more affordable for providers than face‐to‐face coaching, resulting in a 22% reduction in total cost compared to traditional coaching.
  • Increasing Coaching Dosage for Child360’s Providers
    • Partially due to a reduction in drive time of 68% for online coaches versus in-person, coaches reported that online coaching enabled them to accomplish more in a shorter period of time.

Early Education Specialist-Angela Daliet

Angela Daliet manages Business Development specializing in Early Education at Torsh. After earning her B.S. from the University of New Orleans, Angela successfully worked as an investment advisor and financial planning firm coach for several years. Upon learning her children’s public school had no immediate plans to reopen post-Katrina, she established the non-profit Save Our Schools NOLA to help leverage students, parents, teachers, and residents as informed, effective advocates for equitable access to local, high-quality schools and programs.

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