Cultivating Community Among Alternative Route Teachers at Bowling Green State University

The saying goes, “Reading, writing, arithmetic.” But what about when the teachers you’re training teach subjects like business and administrative services, construction technologies, or family and consumer sciences?

The alternative route teachers Jane Briggs works with through Bowling Green State University’s Workforce Education and Development program teach subjects like these. They are also new to education, and teach in a variety of settings, such as middle schools, high schools, career-technical schools, and corrections facilities all across the state.

Jane adopted video observation because she believes self-reflection and frequent coaching are important components of the teacher development process for all teachers. She also knew that video saves time for teacher supervisors, who would otherwise need to travel all over the state to observe teachers in person. But since she adopted Edthena last fall, Jane realized that video provides another important benefit for her teachers especially, who teach such disparate subjects and work in such distinct locations: Video observation cultivates community and collaboration.

Why did you decide to prioritize video with the teachers you work with?

Self-reflection is a critical component of all teaching. In the “old days” it was called micro-teaching. Today, the use of videos to help determine how successful lessons are received is a critical element in the instructional cycle.  Jane Briggs BGSU

Edthena provides teachers with a mirror, so-to-speak. It also helps them change how they are teaching and improves the overall teaching and learning process.

But learning is also social. So using Edthena in groups has helped cultivate a sense of community among our teachers. This has been important to our program this year.

How has the adoption of Edthena impacted evaluators who mentor and supervise your teachers?

The major advantage for evaluators has been the cost savings in mileage and time to visit all of our teachers around the state.

For example, there were 75 teachers in Field Experience II this past semester. Those 75 teachers were broken down into groups and completed various activities within the Edthena software. These activities would have taken our evaluators two to three face-to-face visits to complete without Edthena.

Are there any features inside Edthena that have proved particularly useful?

The use of Explorations to organize learning activities was a great plus for our evaluators and our teachers.

The first semester I taught the course, I had a smaller group of teachers, maybe 15. It was easy to track their assignments and video uploads. However, as the number of teachers enrolled increased, the advantages of using Explorations became very clear.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience so far with using video for coaching and reflection with teachers?

A key advantage of Edthena is that our evaluators can use the video uploads to observe what is happening in the classroom. They can analyze the videos for positive and constructive criticism. And they have materials attached to the videos, such as lesson plans. This allows evaluators greater context with which to determine how that teacher is working in the classroom.

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