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The Early Learning Coalition of Polk County Expands Virtual Coaching Capacity with TORSH Talent

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The Landscape

In early childhood education, effective coaching and support for educators is paramount to fostering optimal learning environments for young learners. The Early Learning Coalition of Polk County (ELC) takes this truth to heart in its work to give the next generation the skills they need to thrive in the future.

The central Florida non-profit agency runs programs focused on enhancing early education and care, including coaching and professional development for early learning educators across the county.

As a prominent advocate for equitable access to high-quality early childhood education, the ELC recognized the need to enhance its coaching processes to uplift teacher effectiveness and drive positive outcomes for the thousands of young children and families it serves.

But the ELC faces two major challenges: geography and coaching efficiency. Nestled between two major metropolitan areas, Polk County spans over 2,000 square miles. The ELC supports a large portfolio of nearly 1,500 educators across this area — with a modest team of just twelve instructional support specialists.

As a result of these challenges, coaches often have to use precious time and resources for long travels between sites, limiting their capacity to provide deeper coaching supports across early learning classrooms.

With a broad region to cover and an ambitious mission to fulfill, the ELC has partnered with TORSH to implement TORSH Talent, a leading online platform designed to revolutionize professional learning and coaching experiences for early education providers. Through this partnership, the ELC has committed to ensuring that teachers in priority classrooms across Polk County with higher support needs receive higher doses of effective coaching that directly improve their instructional practices and benefit students.

Though the implementation of TORSH Talent is in its earliest stages, the ELC is already witnessing positive gains among its coaching staff and the teachers they serve.

The Opportunity

The innovative TORSH Talent platform facilitates anytime, anywhere coaching, training, and collaboration to support early childhood educators with using evidence-based practices in their work with children and families.

TORSH Talent’s video feature serves as a cornerstone for enhancing coaching efficiency within the ELC. By enabling teachers to record and share instructional videos remotely with coaches, TORSH Talent breaks down the geographical barriers that previously limited ELC coaches’ capacity. This essential feature allows the lean team of coaches to provide timely feedback and high-quality support to educators across a broad range of locations.

TORSH Talent also supports coaches and teachers to connect from any place, at any time using its conferencing tools. This feature further expands coaches’ capacity, maximizing the time they spend with their teachers — virtually or in-person — to develop and grow instructional practices using evidence-based methods.

With TORSH Talent, coaches transcend traditional constraints and extend their support to a broader network of educators. Such scalability can not only optimize the utilization of ELC resources but can also foster a collaborative learning environment where best practices can be shared seamlessly across the county, enhancing the overall impact of coaching efforts and resulting in improved teacher effectiveness and student outcomes.

Meeting Early Learning Educators Where They Are

With support from TORSH, the ELC recently established a multi-stage approach to implement the TORSH Talent platform and bring its vision for efficient, high-quality coaching and professional development to life.

The first phase began with planning among the administrative team, identifying critical features to adopt at each stage, and configuring the platform to support the ELC’s specific coaching processes and needs. These efforts included establishing ways to gather custom data points to inform the measurable growth of teachers, goals and goal completion, resources and supports provided to achieve goals, coaching hours spent with teachers, and documentation around coaching sessions with teachers.

Next came the first rounds of training. TORSH supported multiple training opportunities for ELC coaches and their portfolio of teachers in high-priority classrooms to learn about essential features and build their comfort with the platform.

Early Gains, Positive Responses

Even in these early stages, with the ELC focused on working with a select number of coaches and practitioners, the team has already seen improvements in coaching effectiveness and educator engagement. Feedback from coaches and administrators about TORSH Talent is positive, with users praising the platform’s ease of use, its effectiveness in facilitating coaching conversations through the video feature, and its ability to streamline the coaching process.

More specifically, the ELC has experienced the following improvements:

  • Enhanced connectivity between coaches and early learning educators, leading to more personalized support and targeted feedback.
  • Improved visibility for the ELC into coaching activities and progress tracking, setting the stage for data-driven decision-making and continuous improvement.
  • Greater alignment between coaching efforts and ELC organizational goals, laying the foundation for improved school readiness and child outcomes.

ELC leadership is delighted by these early gains over past challenges of geography and efficiency, especially during these beginning stages of implementation. They are seeing that coaches can now provide feedback remotely through video recordings, eliminating the need for constant physical presence to support teachers. The ELC hopes that this shift will not only save coaches time but also expand their reach moving forward by allowing coaches to support more teachers effectively.

An Exceptional Partner For Exceptional Outcomes

The ELC is also impressed with the quality services that TORSH provided throughout the initial implementation processes. In particular, the ELC appreciated the TORSH team’s attentiveness, hands-on guidance, and intentionality in onboarding teachers and coaches during the first phases of implementation.

In partnership with the ELC, the TORSH team also coordinated all training sessions around students’ naptime, ensuring teachers could access and onboard to the platform without adding extra time after hours to their workload. Multiple monthly touchpoints between TORSH and the ELC team has helped with monitoring user engagement, identifying opportunities to increase platform use, creating user guides about specific ELC protocols within the platform, and much more.

The Journey Ahead: Building On A Strong Foundation

With the next program year starting in early July, the next phase of implementation will focus on final training for coaches, with the ELC planning to leverage coaches’ input to guide the next stages of deepening users’ engagement on TORSH Talent.

In particular, ELC administrators are eager to build out the Exemplar library in the platform by structuring resources using CLASS frameworks, ensuring easy accessibility for users. Over time, the ELC will localize exemplars, incorporating videos of model instructional methods sourced from none other than the very educators that coaches support.

Another core focus will be data analysis and tracking outcomes. By seamlessly integrating with the WebAuthor® platform, TORSH Talent will support the ELC to:

  • Track coaching supports and evidence-based practices provided to educators through custom data collected on the platform
  • Examine patterns in instructional gains and student outcomes across the high-priority classrooms supported
  • Identify additional teachers who may benefit from ELC coaching supports
  • Continue improving coaching efficacy and impact across Polk County

The partnership between the ELC and TORSH exemplifies a commitment to excellence in early childhood education. Though the implementation of TORSH Talent is still in its early stages, the ELC anticipates additional positive feedback from their coaches and the teachers they serve, and they eagerly look forward to seeing further positive outcomes.

By leveraging TORSH Talent’s innovative features and capabilities, the ELC is transforming its coaching processes, fostering a collaborative learning environment for coaches and educators, and ultimately driving greater impact for the children and families they serve.

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