How Two Passionate Houghton College Professors with an Eye for Innovation Brought Video Coaching to Their Whole Department

Professors are busy people. And at Houghton College, it’s no different.

Between teaching, grading, and completing endless paperwork, it can be challenging for professors to explore new opportunities for professional growth.

Sunshine Sullivan, Education Department Chair and Associate Professor of Education at Houghton College in New York, successfully cut through the noise that professor’s face on a daily basis to share the benefits of video coaching with her whole department.

The Education Department at Houghton has been using Edthena for five years, and according to Sunshine, “it’s gotten better every year.”

“Even the new faculty are starting to play with it and get more and more comfortable each time they’re coaching someone,” she said.

Sunshine “problematized” this teacher candidate’s reflections and the results were dramatic

Sunshine SullivanLast year Sunshine supported a teacher candidate who was struggling with the fundamentals of teaching: classroom management, lesson flow, and transacting with students.

Despite receiving regular feedback from on-site and prep program mentors, she was unable to identify her own difficulties or find root problems to address.

However, this changed in the teacher candidate’s spring semester when Sunshine’s junior practicum teacher candidates used Edthena to analyze their own practice.

The teacher candidates recorded a ten to fifteen minute lesson and analyzed it using the school’s teacher candidate observation framework. This led to a breakthrough for the teacher candidate, as she was able to start seeing her own practice clearly for the first time.

Sunshine accelerated this teacher candidate’s growth by providing feedback using the timestamped commenting features on Edthena, encouraging deeper reflection. Not only did Sunshine provide comments on the teacher candidate’s teaching and planning, but also on the first round of reflections from the teacher candidate. This pushed the teacher candidate to the next level of self-awareness.

“I was able to push reply to some of her reflections and push a little bit further to ‘problematize’ some of the observations she was posting,” Sunshine said.

The teacher candidate ultimately wrote a follow-up reflection explaining that this process of recording her teaching, reflecting on it, and receiving feedback from a mentor allowed her to see for the first time some of the struggles that her mentors had been telling her about for months.

After Sunshine worked with the teacher candidate over the summer, she returned ready in the fall, telling Sunshine, “I can’t wait for you to see this lesson. It’s so much better because of everything I learned over the spring.”

According to Sunshine, the teacher candidate went on to say, “I’m so glad we get to use Edthena again. It’s going to help me make sure that I’m practicing the strategies that I learned last year and over the summer.”

How the entire Houghton College education department got on board with video coaching

Houghton CollegeAfter a positive onboarding experience, Sunshine became a frequent Edthena user. She initially used Edthena along with one other professor in her department.

After the Edthena team presented a department-wide demo, though, many of Sunshine’s colleagues were excited to try video coaching with Edthena.

“From then on, it’s not just me coming up with the ideas. Other people now are starting to say, ‘hey, what if we used it this way?’ And so it’s been really exciting.”

Two quick tips for professors just starting with video & Edthena

Sunshine has clear advice for professors who are new to video coaching and Edthena. Her first tip is to do a “getting to know you” exploration with teacher candidate before jumping into more complex video assignments.

This helps the teacher candidates familiarize themselves with the platform. As Sunshine said, “it helps them realize, ‘Hey, this isn’t scary, and it can be fun to comment on each other’s videos.’”

After a successful “getting to know you” Exploration, Sunshine suggests a ten to fifteen-minute lesson segment as a follow-up activity. For this task, teacher candidates should focus on a specific framework, like questioning. The benefit of this narrowly-defined task is two-fold.

“That’s for the [teacher candidate’s]’ benefit, Sunshine said, “but also for your benefit because it’s sustainable that way. You can make sure that you’re providing feedback in a timely manner.”

Watch our full interview (9 minutes) in the video above.