Using Low-stakes Rehearsals to Scaffold the Complexity of Teaching

Tim Boerst is chair of elementary education at the University of Michigan and a professor in Michigan’s Elementary Masters of Arts with Certification Program (ELMAC).

Tim has been using Edthena for four years.

Tim Boerst

With the help of Edthena, instructors in the ELMAC program can coach interns on low-stakes rehearsals at home… before interns teach the lesson in their classroom.

Why do you think the rehearsals process is important to the ELMAC interns’ development?

Given how much goes into skillful teaching, it is valuable to use video in ways that scaffold the complexity of teaching.

The rehearsals process allows interns to practice — and get feedback on — the words, gestures, and representations that are integral to sound instruction.

Then interns can focus their attention on engaging students in academic content when they do get to the classroom.

How has Edthena changed the way that you’re using video with your interns? How does it look different than before?

In the past, interns were able to use video for reflection and for receiving feedback from their course instructors.

But other key members of the instructional team — such as field instructors and mentors — were hampered by limited access to the video, as well as by limited options for providing feedback on it.

Edthena now makes it possible to include a broader array of people in an interns’ development, extending beyond those who can be present at the time a lesson is taught. This dramatically furthers the depth of our interns’ learning experiences.

Essentially, Edthena has broadened and deepened conversations about teaching.

How have interns taken control of their own development in this virtual coaching model?

One thing we’ve done is allow our interns to start creating their own groups within Edthena that they feel will support their learning.

For example, this past summer we saw groups consisting of interns who worked with different subsets of students each day. They wanted to gain insight into how teaching and learning unfolded on previous days.

This use has also allowed interns to more easily garner feedback from instructors of previous courses or with whom they no longer work directly.

University of Michigan

Why do you think a platform like Edthena is important for today’s teacher education programs?

Prior to Edthena, commenting on and discussing the teaching in a video required an enormous amount of effort. We were having to verbally describe and literally point to aspects of practice.

The ability to meaningfully embed comments within a video — allowing dialog focused on the questions, interpretations, and suggestions that make interaction meaningful — remains our biggest reason for using Edthena.

Simply put, Edthena allows a practice-focused program like ours ways to appraise the doing of teaching.

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While Diane and her team were excited about the promise of how video coaching could enhance teacher support, they were nervous about how everyone would react to the new video-powered process.

She quickly found the hesitations erased as teachers started using Edthena. The teachers quickly developed habits of a collaborative community and showed enthusiasm for sharing their practice.