The Virtual Lab School: An Introduction for Coaches
You’ve likely heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As a professional caregiver working in an early-childhood or school-age program, you not only play a role in the “village” but are often of second-most importance after a child’s family. Child care programming is central to children’s care and education, and it is essential that all child care staff are knowledgeable about child development and caregiving practices, prepared to work with a diverse group of children, families, and coworkers, and able to access ongoing and research-based professional development. Child care programs must have intentional, systematic support to meet these demands. This course will primarily focus on supporting coaches in the implementation of a professional development system. In this lesson, you will learn about the importance of supporting direct care staff and about the core components of the Virtual Lab School.
Using the Virtual Lab School to Coach and Train Program Staff
There are two main ways to use the Virtual Lab School: training and coaching new staff and credential candidates and coaching staff for ongoing professional development. This lesson explains how coaching and training are different and similar and how you can utilize coaching strategies in all parts of your work with program staff. You will also learn how relationship-based participation and self-reflection promote caregivers’ growth of knowledge and implementation of best practice.
Introducing Direct Care Providers to The Virtual Lab School
Now that you have a better understanding of the structure of the Virtual Lab School and the importance of effective coaching as a method of professional development, you must be able to communicate to direct care providers how they will use the VLS as a professional development system. In this lesson, you will learn about how to introduce direct care providers to the VLS structure and technical components, how to communicate expectations around coursework completion and coaching participation, and the responsibilities of the coach and learner.
Goal Setting and Achievement
In this lesson, you will build on what you have already learned about the Virtual Lab School and coaching as a form of professional development to help set and achieve goals with direct care staff. You will read an example of how a coach uses VLS tools and the learning management system to drive support for staff members, which leads to improvement in practice.
Coaching Across Careers
In this lesson, you will learn considerations for coaching staff members at various stages of their careers. The staff in your program are as diverse as the children you care for, and you will need to flexibly navigate how you support staff based on their current practices, professional needs, and program standards.
The Virtual Lab School: Partnering with Program Managers to Support Quality Programs
As a coach, you play a significant role in making sure your program provides high-quality child care. To meet this expectation, you collaborate with your Program Manager to ensure that you have a well-supported staff and a systematic way to provide access to essential training on critical practices and ongoing coaching for continued professional growth. In this lesson, you will learn the importance of building partnerships with the Program Manager, and how to use the Virtual Lab School (VLS) as a professional development tool to help your program collect data to support quality program improvement.