Among the heroes of the COVID-19 emergency response are the early education providers who continue to serve children and their families while sheltering in place. Removed from their classrooms, many have struggled to connect with the children they serve, let alone strengthen their teaching practices.

Fortunately, providers and their coaches in San Mateo County recently adopted Coaching Companion, a video sharing and coaching tool that helps providers virtually connect with their coach and share their classroom practices to receive feedback.

The County Office of Education launched the Coaching Companion tool in September 2019 to increase coaches’ capacity to support more providers, especially those at remote sites across the county. Then, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and many programs moved online, providers already had an effective tool to refine their work while serving students virtually.

“Coaching Companion has helped me a lot during the shelter-in-place order,” said Belen Calvo, a teacher at Peninsula Family Services.

Belen holds a weekly Zoom meeting with the children in her classroom, which she shares with her coach through Coaching Companion. She uses the feedback and ideas she receives to deliver lessons more creatively and intentionally each week.

By embracing Coaching Companion, teachers like Belen have seen children improve over the past months. “I’ve noticed that the kids are more eager to participate, attentive, and happy,” shared Belen.

To support the coaches, the County Office of Education hosts monthly meetings for coaches to share best practices and receive help in using the tool.

“Coaching Companion has proved to be a vital resource for providers who have transitioned to online early learning and care,” said Alyson Suzuki, Administrator of Early Learning Support Services at the County Office of Education. “It has enhanced our ability to serve providers and stay committed to providing high-quality early learning during these challenging times.”