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Online video streamlines teacher training in Bulloch
In-house video enhancing learning experience
BCS Technology 1
Schools in Bulloch County are using in-house video for the first time to simultaneously deliver a professional development series to all administrators and teachers at the school systems 15 schools and central office. - photo by Special

Bulloch County Schools is using in-house video for the first time to simultaneously deliver a professional development series to all administrators and teachers at the school system’s 15 schools and central office.
The Standards-Based Classroom Training is being taught by Shelly Smith, a former educator and First District Regional Educational Service Agency director.
The Lifesize technology video system being used by the school district has the capability to upgrade to eight-way video conferencing for future communication needs. Using technology to bring training to educators saves money.  It reduces the number of on-site contract sessions Smith must provide from 96 to 12. Also student instruction time is not affected by teachers leaving their classrooms for training, and substitute teacher costs are eliminated.
In reviewing other methods to provide this training to teachers, the best option would have been to instead have the instructor provide a half-day session at each of the 15 schools, six times, to complete the series. This would have cost $165,000 in speaking fees and substitute teacher costs – a cost-prohibitive option, both in terms of time and money. 
The in-house video option cost less than $41,000 for the investment in the Lifesize technology and instructor fees, which is less than $63 per teacher to provide six elementary and 6 secondary training sessions. The technology can be used to reduce other future training, travel and substitute teacher costs as well.
The training was required for all school administrators and more than 650 teachers. The teachers also will earn professional learning units that will count toward their training professional development requirement to renew their teaching certificates.
The training is in keeping with the school system’s Professional Development Plan that was developed last spring.
“We want to ensure that we provide consistent, pervasive instruction in all classrooms in order to significantly affect student achievement,” said Superintendent Charles Wilson, who recorded a seven-minute introductory video with Smith to acquaint viewers with the training.
The initial 90-minute course was filmed twice, Sept. 18 and 19, at the central office in the morning so that the instruction could be tailored to elementary schools and middle and high schools. Then it was redelivered to the schools in the afternoons during faculty meetings. The videos were also uploaded to an Intranet site that can be accessed by teachers any time for review. The six sessions will be conducted September through March.
“We want to build on the knowledge that all teachers share,” said Monica Lanier, the school system’s federal programs director. “One of our professional development goals is to build district-wide knowledge, skill and implementation of critical teaching and learning behaviors in all schools and all core academic classes in kindergarten through twelfth grade.” 
The remaining five training sessions focus on such topics as developing ways to assess students’ progress learning the material taught, tailoring instruction to students at different levels of learning and helping students use writing as a learning tool.
“These are tools to help teachers do the heavy lifting,” Smith said.
 For some teachers, the information will be entirely new. For others, it will be a review. The expectation is that those who already have expertise will help those who are learning.
“These sessions are the foundational pieces that will help teachers implement the new, more rigorous Common Core Georgia Performance Standards,” said Dr. Fran Stephens, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.                              
Principals play a major role in the training’s implementation as well.  In addition to facilitating each session, they oversee teacher teams, called professional learning communities, and conduct classroom walk-throughs to observe and monitor use of the training strategies. They also will collect data by surveying perceived growth in knowledge and skills, surveying students’ perceptions of teachers’ use of strategies, and analyzing data trends from state and local assessments.
After each training session, teachers have assignments to complete in their professional learning communities, grade levels or team meetings. Principals will ensure that the work is occurring because future trainings will build on the knowledge and experiences teachers are acquiring. Teachers also will have the opportunity to share artifacts and best practices across schools.
“There is leadership occurring at the teacher-team level,” Wilson said.  “We want excellence to be a habit.”
The Georgia Department of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards in July 2011, after Georgia joined with 46 other states and territories to develop consistent, common K-12 curriculum standards in the areas of English language arts and mathematics, and common science literacy, history/social studies and technical subjects for sixth through twelfth grades. The standards are internationally benchmarked and aligned to college and work expectations.
The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards replace the former Georgia Performance Standards. All boards of education are required to implement these standards beginning this fall because new state assessments of school systems will be based on these new standards.
“It is the desire of the Bulloch County Board of Education and its administrators for there to be a common language across the school district,” Smith said. “My sessions, while not about the specific content in the new CCGPS, build on one another and model fundamental, effective teaching practices that should be used by each teacher.  When done so, they will be better able to implement Common Core and see a rise in student achievement.”

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