Program helps educate teachers

Published 3:06 pm Friday, September 6, 2013

Educators in Butler County will be receiving a little help in the classroom through a rather unconventional teacher’s aid.

The Butler County School District has chosen to utilize Teachscape, a Web-based program that enables teachers to undergo professional development tailor suited to their skills.

The project was undertaken with support from a teacher incentive fund grant designed to help teachers across the district improve upon their instructional practice.

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Using the Teachscape Learn tool, educators are able to select from a multimedia course library full of individualized content to put together a professional learning plan, which they can then access at any time and from any location.

“Teachscape’s tools will streamline our evaluation process, making us more efficient in meeting our goals of improving teacher effectiveness,” said Litta Norris, program director of the Butler County Performance Based Incentive Program.

“It enables us to not only give it to them in a format that they can be a little more choosey about when they complete the professional development, but it also enables us to not have to give professional development for most — this gives professional development for all, because every single teacher can choose tools tied directly to their needs and their interests.”

Also within the same program is Teachscape Reflect, in which administrative evaluations are conducted using video.

In addition to alleviating the evaluation process for administrators, teachers are granted the opportunity to reflect on teaching practices by referring to a large video library of best practices.

The service will eventually allow Butler County teachers to learn from each other within the comforts of their own classroom, or even from home.

“When we have a teacher that has a specific issue or something we want them to see, or a teacher wants to see a practice in action, they don’t have to leave their classroom; they can just go online and watch the video,” Norris said.

“Our goal is to have a very large library of those practices done by our own teachers.”

The main strength of incorporating Teachscape into the repertoires of Butler County educators ultimately lies in convenience.

All learning resources are located online in one place, yet are accessible from any computer.

Additionally, despite the fact that each teacher will use the same service, their experience will be customized to their own needs and interests.

And though the Teachscape program is aimed squarely at teachers, Norris believes that the ultimate beneficiaries will be the students themselves.

“When teachers are improving their practices, which they are, then it’s going to improve for students,” Norris said.

“Our ability to really target what our teachers need and give it to them is what’s definitely going to impact the students.”