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St. Vrain will use AI to help support teacher development

District to be one of first in nation to implement AI Coach by Edthena following successful pilot
St. Vrain Valley School District will be one of the first districts in the country to utilize an AI Coach by Edthena to support professional development.

St. Vrain Valley School District will be one of the first districts in the nation to use artificial intelligence-driving coaching to support the professional development of its teachers this school year.

This past spring, the district piloted AI Coach by Edthena, which utilizes a virtual, computerizied coach named Edie to supplement the schools’ and districts’ existing observation and feedback models. Edie asks teachers about their professional goals, and teachers analyze and reflect on videos of their classroom instruction by adding time-stamped comments.

Diane Lauer, assistant superintendent of priority programs and academic support, explained that the AI Coach is a new feature on a video-based product that St. Vrain has been using for about eight years.

Recording and reflecting on videos of oneself is a common practice not just in education but across many professions.

“It's really great to see yourself with your own eyes and get some feedback,” she said.

Edie adds the guidance from a virtual coach, so that teachers can develop a short-term goal, identify a strategy for change and commit to a timeline for implementation. The process enables St. Vrain teachers to receive the benefits of coaching when they’re learning independently, between person-to-person coaching and mentoring conversations.

“What we’ve found is that the more cycles of reflection that you go through, you’re really accelerating your growth,” Lauer said. “Every time you go through that feedback loop of watching yourself, getting feedback and changing, you grow.”

Along with increasing the cycles of reflection, the AI Coach provides an opportunity for teachers to seek feedback when their peers may not be available or when a more individual reflection is desired.

“Teachers in the pilot told me this was a powerful learning tool to help them pause and reflect on their practices as they work toward their learning goals,” David Baker, professional development coordinator at St. Vrain, said in a release. “As I was working with AI Coach myself, I saw my reflections and annotations changing as I continued to use the platform.” 

Lauer said with the district hiring over 200 new teachers for the upcoming school year, the program will be especially helpful for people new to the field to get feedback and improve quickly. It also will be available to teachers and schools wanting to use it for professional development.

“It’s a new tool,” Lauer said. “We really just started using it, but we’re looking forward to expanding it to more teachers, especially with our new teachers.”

She added that using innovative technology and giving teacher’s first hand experience with this type of technology ties to the district’s overarching goals. The program is meant to be complementary to the other professional development tools St. Vrain offers to teachers.

“I don’t think this will replace our coaches and our mentors, but I do think that it will be an added layer for folks,” Lauer said. “What we really want for all of our teachers, if we can all get into a habit of self-reflection on a regular basis, it’s the best way forward for personal growth.”