In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, teacher preparation programs are faced with the difficulty of how to support and evaluate candidates in the field. Here in Washington state, we already face a shortage of willing mentors to host our candidates. A recent study by Western Washington University and my colleagues at the University of Washington estimated that only 3-4% of teachers serve as mentors any given year. According to the findings of a state workgroup in which I participated, this trend is even more pronounced among rural and remote school districts. As a result, programs throughout our state are looking for effective ways to further support our candidates in the field, particularly in rural and remote areas.
One solution that is effective and can support efforts to maintain teacher certifications, including during the pandemic, is the use of online observations. We began using Edthena in 2015, and over the last 5 years, we have witnessed tremendous success and accessibility, especially for candidates in rural and remote school districts. We utilize Edthena’s platform as part of multiple measures to assess candidates in field placements. Field supervisors can use the online video tool in conjunction with traditional in-person observations, providing a nice mixture of evidence for our program to assess our candidates’ readiness towards licensure. Here are some of the highlights of our experience using online video observations.