BloomBoard: Empowering Teachers to Grow

Apps & Mobile, EdTech, Learning, Learning Innovations, Online & Blended, Platforms & Data, PreK-12

“BloomBoard provides school districts and states with user-friendly tools to collect educator effectiveness data — and then recommends personalized training for each teacher based on his or her particular professional development needs. “

We talk a lot about individualizing instruction for students in order to help them grow to their highest potential, but we can’t forget about  teachers either. Teachers are learners just like their students, with individual strengths and styles- and it’s that great mixture of styles and talent that truly enables schools to reach all types of learners.

Administrators most often want to use observation to track how successful their teachers are at reaching students in the classroom and then follow up with feedback to help support those teachers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes observations make teachers feel that they are being singled out because they are not doing a good enough job and can feel like a punishment. Or, perhaps the feedback isn’t always helpful or doesn’t lead to the next step for “professional development.” Time, or lack there of, in typical school day also prevents observations from truly helping teachers strengthen their practice simply because there aren’t enough hours in the day for admins to meet with every teacher, talk them through what they saw for thorough understanding and then follow up with feedback and resources.

Bloomboard is the tool that can solve this- by using technology to allow both sides access their data, observation feedback and resources- all stored in one easily accessible place. Instead, teachers can feel inspired, not chastised, when their principal visits their classroom.

An administrator can schedule observations and send an invite from inside of their BloomBoard account, with options for formal or informal, video or video peer rated and, also, final summative review.  The admin can also upload the teacher’s lesson plan into the account and have it accessible during the observation. Once the observation is scheduled, each category of observation has the standards built into a rubric along with a rating system designed to help teachers understand where they fall in the spectrum. If the Bloomboard designed rubric doesn’t align to what the administrator is looking for, it can be easily customized.

But then, to truly take teacher observations to the next level, videos taken of the observed lesson can also be uploaded into Bloomboard and the administrator can comment and tag the video within in the account. With all the data collected, the admin can then recommend certain PD resources directly from the Bloomboard library.

In order enable a full staff  to truly accomplish school wide improvement, Bloomboard compiles all the observation results. Administrators can pull school wide reports, where they can see how the staff is doing as a whole or individual reports to see specific teachers’ strengthens and weaknesses. Organizing the data in this way opens up so much possibility for whole school growth, as well as getting beginning or struggling teachers the coaching/mentoring they need to develop their teaching skills.

Once the observation is completed, Bloomboard morphs into the roll of instructional coach, taking the burden off both the administrator and the teacher at the same time. All the results are shared with the teacher in their own Bloomboard account.

With the teacher account, Bloomboard functions more as a goal setting/journal like app for professional development. It becomes a great place to record and track professional goals, while also discovering and integrating recommended professional development resources. Referring to these resources and reflecting on one’s own teaching practice can now become part of teachers daily routine because it is all immediately available in Bloomboard.

Observing teacher practice has been part of school culture for an incredibly long time but, unfortunately, they do not always turn into the intended worthwhile experience . Because Bloomboard takes on so much of the prep and planning and then compiles the results, the work doesn’t feel so burdensome and the  final analysis can truly become meaningful! Teacher observations don’t need to be about “making the cut” but about real growth and receiving the appropriate support to achieve that growth.

Bloomboard is not just an app, it is an extremely robust tool that it is difficult to capture the vast potential it holds for staff development in a single blog post.

Just this spring, Bloomboard won the LaunchEDU competition at SXSWedu, a competition highlighting the “wealth of exceptional ideas and products that have the power to transform education as we know it today,” said Ron Reed, excutive producer of SXSWedu.

Bloomboard is definitely worth the time and exploration to discover how it could function in a specific district or school.

 

Bloomboard s a Learn Capital portfolio company where Tom Vander Ark is a partner.

Alison Anderson

Alison Anderson

Alison Anderson is a Media Specialist at The Madeleine School. Follow her on twitter at @tedrosececi.

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