Virtual Student Teaching

Photo by Paul Patton
Photo by Paul Patton

Here’s a tale of two cities — Wilmington, Del., and Bellefontaine, Ohio — and the unique virtual student teaching experience that recently connected them.

Galen Miller, a Wilmington University graduate student in elementary education in the College of Education, was scheduled to do his student teaching in the Wilmington area during the 2015 spring semester. However, as Miller says, “I was in a situation where life happened and I needed to move back home to Bellefontaine.”

But thanks to computer technology and his own resourcefulness, Miller was able to complete his student teaching virtually. Using the iMovie software on his computer, he videotaped himself teaching second grade at Bellefontaine Elementary School. Then he uploaded the video to YouTube, where Sarah Smith-Terranova, adjunct instructor and adjunct clinical supervisor of teacher prep programs (MSE and MAT) in the College of Education, could view it and evaluate his performance.

The arrangement had several advantages, Miller says. “Taping myself teaching was less stressful than having someone come in and observe. Also, I could use those videos as a video portfolio of my teaching, and I could also plan for time to have the principal or others within the district observe me”

Apparently, officials in the district liked what they saw. Miller has been hired as a full-time teacher at the school, beginning this fall.

Smith-Terranova says the video-taping offers several advantages to her as well. “Scheduling is as easy as it is asynchronous (two-hour delays and snow days had little effect — actually zero impact — on my observations). I can play back the video if I want to double-check something. I can’t do that in real-time, nor can I hit pause when writing my thoughts. I can ask for specific footage, as opposed to when I visit face-to-face, where what you see is what you get.”

This is the first time virtual student teaching has been used at WilmU, according to Tyler Wells, assistant professor and chair of the College of Education graduate program. But it probably won’t be the last. He plans to meet with Smith-Terranova this summer “in hopes that we can provide this as an option.”

Says Smith-Terranova: “I would not be surprised if the program expands, as technology such as online learning and virtual meetings are a wave of the future. And as more and more students are drawn to Wilmington University from out-of-state schools, it doesn’t lock the students into one area.” WU