Melinda Lowe remembers when Sale Elementary School Principal Rebecca Taylor entered her classroom to observe her teaching methods as an intern teacher.
Taylor plopped a huge computer on a table and raised the screen. Lowe said Taylor then typed every word she said in her lesson.
“It freaked me out, but then she was able to say, ‘OK Melinda, when you said this, this is where you met your objective,'” Lowe said.
The concept behind teacher evaluations hasn’t changed, but the evaluators are using new methods and technology that is making their jobs easier. Thanks to a $1,500 grant from International Paper’s Columbus Mill and The International Paper Foundation, the Mississippi University for Women will put that technology to use in its Division of Education & Outreach. The grant will allow The W to implement GoReact, an interactive platform for feedback, grading and critiquing of video assignments. The technology will complement The W’s existing innovative teacher preparation program and will give supervisors a new way to engage with their students during their multiple residencies.
“As our numbers are going up and our students are going out further, our supervisors aren’t able to get into those classrooms enough,” said Lowe, who is director of Outreach & Innovation and a faculty member in the division, “so we were looking for some sort of video assessment software that would enable our supervisors not to travel so much and to observe more often. With this programming, we can do more than the minimum of four observations and the faculty member doesn’t even have to leave their office.”
Lowe said GoReact makes it easier on the supervisors because GoReact’s time coded comments will allow them not to have to take verbatim notes when observing the teacher interns. She said the teacher interns will enjoy GoReact because it will enable them to watch themselves teach and become instantly self-aware of their performance.
“When I was a teacher intern, getting that feedback and that data made all of the difference in the world,” Lowe said. “I think it is going to be amazing, and I look forward to implementing it with more of our students through the residencies and the mentoring program with our graduates.”
The pilot program will be open to all faculty and students in the Division of Education & Outreach from January through August 2020 thanks to the grant. Lowe said they would review and analyze various forms of data collected throughout the spring semester to determine how GoReact could best be used during the 2020-21 academic year.
Lowe also thanked International Paper’s Columbus Mill and The International Paper Foundation for helping The W continue to deliver innovative methods that will help it recruit, educate and train the next generation of teachers.
The International Paper Foundation is one of the ways International Paper strives to reach its vision to be among the most successful, sustainable and responsible companies in the world. Started in 1952, the foundation annually provides millions in grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to address critical needs in the communities where its employees live and work. Funding priority is given to programs related to its signature causes: education, hunger, health and wellness, disaster relief, and initiatives that improve the planet. For more information, visit ipgiving.com.
“At International Paper, we believe our company cannot succeed if our communities do not succeed,” said Kellum Kim, Mill communications manager. “We are proud to support Mississippi University for Women and its Foundation as they strive to make an impact on education in our community and beyond.”