One of our missions at Torsh is creating better schools, one teacher at a time. So back when Stanford University approached us with a challenge they were having with their Hollyhock Fellowship for Teachers, a partnership made perfect sense.
The Hollyhock Fellowship, which falls under Stanford University’s Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET), is a two-year professional development program for high school teachers. It includes both a two-week summer learning component that takes place on campus and ongoing remote coaching throughout the school year.
As one would expect of Stanford, the program is highly selective. Teachers must apply with at least two other colleagues from their school, and must commit to staying at that school for the duration of the fellowship, to provide support for one another.
Each class, or “cohort,” has one hundred participants. Applicants are required to have between two and seven years of experience teaching science, math, history or English. They must have a firm belief in equitable outcomes for all students, and must teach at a school where more than half of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Support from school administration is also a program mandate. However, travel costs and other expenses are covered by the fellowship, and participants receive a $2,000 stipend.
As you can imagine, most of the teachers in the fellowship work in classrooms far removed from the University’s Palo Alto campus, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. And remote coaching, whereby Stanford Instructional coaches review teachers in the classroom and offer feedback and guidance, is key to the program’s success. But how best to facilitate this type of virtual training?
This conundrum is what brought Stanford and Torsh together back in 2014. Pretty quickly, decision makers within the fellowship realized that Torsh TALENT could enable their Stanford Instructional coaches to step inside classrooms all across the country, albeit virtually. Fellowship teachers could use their iPhone, tablet or other personal device and record themselves at work teaching, upload the video to the platform, then share it with their long-distance coach. The coach could then review the video, making comments and providing feedback and guidance. At that point, the video and commentary could be uploaded to an exemplar library, or shared with other fellowship participants.
The ongoing relationship between Torsh and Stanford continues to grow and evolve. Recently the University approached us with another request: fellowship participants and coaches wanted to review tapes together, in real time, across the miles. Our developers got right to work. They created two new features, video conferencing and chat, that allow for this type of interaction, right within the TALENT platform. Teachers can now jump online together with their coach, review their videos, and engage in a “live” conversation. These sessions can also be recorded for future use.
To make it even easier for fellowship participants and their coaches to link up, Torsh launched a meeting scheduling feature within TALENT. This can be synced to google calendar, and provides a clear picture of when both parties are available for coaching sessions.
At Torsh, we are very proud of our affiliation with Stanford University. We applaud the Hollyhock Fellowship’s ongoing efforts to train and develop teachers. We will continue to do our part, by responding to the needs of the program and providing best in class professional development for teachers through Torsh TALENT.