Introducing and Using the RBL-IC
Educators need time to learn the purpose of the RBL-IC and practice using it to improve instruction. Educators will most likely need one or more thoughtful training sessions on the rubric and principles of blended learning before fully integrating the tool into observation and coaching cycles.
As with most rubrics of this type, the ideal use is for teaching teams, including instructional coaches, to adopt and integrate this rubric in existing cycles of instructional observation and improvement. Ideally, the coaching cycles are non-evaluative and should gather evidence that demonstrates where teachers fall on their developing continuum. The goal of these observations is to identify specific evidence of how teachers have utilized the blended pillars and strategies, and conversations should guide the next steps a teacher might take to improve blended implementation. For districts with no existing coaching process, the RBL-IC might provide an opportunity to pilot the development of a short-cycle teacher coaching and development protocol to support a group of blended learning teachers.
Adapting Use of the RBL-IC During 2020-21
Supporting and developing teachers during COVID-specific learning environments will require educators to consider new approaches, especially when large gatherings of in-person professional development might not be feasible and in-person instructional coaching cycles are adjusted, reduced, or temporarily halted.
While the RBL-IC was created for use in a blended environment, the progression of these pillars and strategies helps build teachers’ expertise in transferable skill sets that are directly applicable to at-home remote learning and in-person socially distanced schools. The RBL-IC could be introduced through professional development to develop a shared understanding of the tool, unify around a common vision for blended learning, and create norms for use if instructional coaching protocols are interrupted. Coaching practices utilizing the RBL-IC can be adapted for at-home or socially distanced settings, where teachers might be invited to submit videos of various aspects of in-person and/or online instruction as evidence for a coach to review and discuss.
In addition to coaching discussions, the RBL-IC can also be used for individual self-reflection, or among a team of teachers willing to serve as learning partners. Teachers can self-identify where they fall on the rubric, provide related artifacts as evidence, and list concrete next steps to push toward the next level of practice. Colleagues can respond with concrete feedback and suggestions to support the teacher’s growth, offering real-time support in areas where they are further along on the continuum. Interacting as learning partners in this way not only supports the development of individual teachers but also helps build consensus around strong blended classroom practices across grade levels teams, vertical teams, and campus cultures.
As our educators are faced with unprecedented challenges this fall, it is crucial we provide them with the resources and training needed to best support our students. The RBL-IC is a valuable resource that promotes blended learning strategies, provides a framework for adapting instruction for a variety of learning environments, and encourages collaborative growth and improvement.