Professional Development | News

South Dakota District Deploys Teacher Observation App on the iPad

A rural South Dakota school district has implemented a teacher observation app after deciding to ramp up professional development for teachers.

Beresford School District has deployed Pearson's Teacher Compass software on the iPad. Teacher Compass is a customizable tool that allows administrators to conduct observations and define teacher expectations, input results on the tablet without an Internet connection and later synchronize with online accounts, and create reports and graphics. It then automatically recommends searchable professional development programs, such as online modules, videos (more than 5,000 are available), or tutorials.

Teacher Compass includes three components:

  • Observe, for conducting evaluations;
  • Principal, for leadership development of school principals; and
  • PD, which includes access to videos and other training material.

According to Tim Koehler, district professional development director, Teacher Compass is helping to enhance teacher performance and improving consistency across the district. Previously, each of the three principals used different observation methods.

"Our teachers are becoming more effective because the feedback they get is so much better. Now we have stronger teaching, and that's key to improving student performance," said Koehler, who also said the district is now developing growth plans for each teacher.

In addition to Teacher Compass, the tablets also have district best practices, tips, and explanations loaded onto them.

Beresford School District, in southeast South Dakota, has 650 students in an elementary, middle, and senior high school. It received an $18,000 donation in September from the Beresford Area Foundation to provide 30 iPads for students in grades 4 and 5 at the elementary school. High school students in the district also use iPads in the classroom.

"Videos are more effective than print materials in demonstrating best practice. And they are very popular with our teachers. When teachers see a demonstration, it gives them something to build on and match to their own situation," added Koehler.

The Teacher Compass iPad app is available in the Apple App Store.

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About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @editortim.