Steve Thalheimer serves as Superintendent for Fairfield Community Schools in Indiana. The district added Educational Impact to help administrators assess and grow staff development throughout their schools. After a year with the program, he shared some of his thoughts about Educational Impact.
Q: What were your initial impressions of Educational Impact?
A: I really liked the breadth of topics when we initially signed up. Our primary reason for using EI was to assist with training on the Danielson Framework for Teaching as we adopted that as our teacher evaluation rubric. Indiana requires that evaluators be trained, and with us choosing that model rather than the state model rubric, we needed a way to train the administrative team in evaluation. EI worked great for that.
Q: Before adopting Educational Impact, what tools and/or resources were being used to supplement professional development and classroom evaluations?
A: We didn’t really have anything. When we looked at the mandate that teacher evaluations be accompanied by professional development, we knew we did not have the resources or the expertise in-house to provide that, so the modules were a great way to target PD.
Q: What sets Educational Impact apart from other professional development and personal learning programs?
A: The program is accessible and fairly intuitive, and the customizability to tweak courses or create ones from scratch is valuable. Also, the ability to preload the catalog of topics particular to our district is nice as well.
Q: What do you believe your teachers are taking away from the Danielson Framework content within Educational Impact?
A: Teachers get a better understanding of the language of the indicators and what the indicators LOOK like. Hearing about the rubric and its foundations from Danielson herself also makes it more meaningful and it provides creditability to the district’s choice of using Danielson.
Q: Overall, how have teachers reacted toward the content and tools available within Educational Impact?
A: Generally, the reaction has been positive as they find the focused modules are helping them to achieve an area of growth more easily.
Q: Is the program being used to help teachers fulfill certain expectations that will be assessed during evaluations? If so, which evaluations are you working with?
A: There have been some instances when a principal has used video segments to discuss things in whole-staff settings, but mostly we use the modules to customize PD for teachers who ask for assistance or who have an area of growth identified through evaluations. Also, we did use some of the ESL units to do staff PD for Title III requirements.
Q: Are you seeing specific differences and/or improvements during classroom instruction?
A: Questioning techniques and flexibility in lessons are areas where we continue to grow.
Q: As an administrator, what were your reactions toward Educational Impact?
A: I have liked that it saves principals time by allowing them to have pre-made PD ready at the go for teachers who need it. I have also liked the support provided by Education Technology Partners.
Q: What would you say to another district about Educational Impact?
A: If you are looking for a scalable, customizable way to deliver local content as well as nationally-recognized leaders on a variety of topics, EI can help create that system..
About Fairfield Community Schools
The Fairfield Community School District is located in north central Indiana. More than 2,100 students are educated at the district’s two K – 6 elementary schools, one K – 8 elementary/middle school, and one 7 – 12 junior-senior high school.
About Educational Impact
EI is a leading provider of online video for K-12 professional development and college teacher preparation courses. They have developed a robust learning management system with a massive video library and customizable series of online courses.