A VISTA Coach Speaks Out
"Working as a VISTA coach has provided me the opportunity to continue in the field of education. I retired in 2011 and moved to Virginia with the hope of obtaining full time employment in a school. Unfortunately, circumstances arose preventing me from doing so, but thankfully, coaching teachers has allowed me to become familiar with Virginia schools and continue to share my years of experience with others!
The problem-based learning (PBL) that VISTA emphasizes is a great way to motivate children to learn. It accommodates all types of student learning styles. Preparing PBL lessons can be more time consuming than traditional science teaching but the results are so much more beneficial. Problem-based learning allows students to become critical thinkers and learn how to work in cooperative groups. This encourages them to become good listeners and accepting of others' opinions, and these are life skills all children should develop.
Working as a VISTA coach has not only taught me about how children benefit from strong support, but also how teachers benefit. As coaches, we directly see the benefits of the support we offer, from helping teachers with lesson planning, to facilitating PBL activities, to addressing concerns as they arise.
Teachers need support from their administrators as well. If principals give teachers sufficient time to meet with their coaches, and understand the importance of encouraging grade-level teams to work together in planning and trying out the units, teachers can succeed at implementing problem-based learning.
It’s important for everyone – from administrators to teachers – to understand the importance of coaching and developing effective science teaching units."