Episode #223: Betsy Springer

Dana GoodierOut of the Trenches Podcast

Betsy Springer works as an instructional coach and ELA teacher for the Gull Lake Virtual Partnership, a division of innovative programs in the Gull Lake Community School District in SW Michigan. Betsy holds a BS in secondary ed, an MEd in Instructional Tech, and is a doctoral candidate in Ed Policy. Her favorite things are her family, coffee, and doing what others say can’t be done.

Trenches story: can’t simplify. Started with her as a student. Was a good student. Teachers were her heroes. Life had other plans. Her first child has special needs. Exited CR to stay with her. Goals, her needs are moving targets. Enrolled her daughter as an art student in Gull Lake Virtual Partnership. Expressed interested in working part time. Became an online teacher. Was first teacher with 2 students. Next year there were 16 students. Inspired her to go into ed tech & policy. Wasn’t the path she envisioned starting in ed. Enjoys interacting with diff. students, educators.

Current position instr. coach at virtual school in SW Michigan. School w/in district outside Kalamazoo, MI (in Richland). Started in 2010. Program existed before she was there. District wanted to use their own staff. They asked if she could be a local teacher for 2 students 9 yrs ago. St’s would take all their classes online. Students were lost. Then school grew to 45 within a few years. Now has 230 FT students and several PT students (400 total). Staff of 50. first 3 years “wild wild west days”. F. ex. w/ t evals. Became a DeFacto coach with new teachers. They do a lot of PD around online t’s, quarterly trainings, course reviews. Not in the beginning, was a revolving door of ½ time principals. She also got her MA in instr. tech/design. They network w/ other virtual schools in MI. Can share about starting her online school that’s now grown to 25 students. Aspects of great CR teaching with a bit of a twist. A Lot of variability in terms of student enrollment at beg. of pandemic. Staff reached out to support t’s in other districts. Shared what they knew with others. Enrollment follow trends from her policy work. Changes in types of students who want virtual school. Parents who want hybrid options.

Teach Better blogger-has only done 1, that was on her website first. Was interviewed for DLAC for proof points webinar. Couldn’t really say how they were different. They asked why she was seeing positive results, then she reached out to TB team. She did a meet up for bloggers and is part of K-12 teachers network. Her topics center around online learning.

You are a Part-time program specialist for digital learning conference DLAC (Digital Learning Annual Conference). Her Blog is about being a virtual mentor, parent engagement in a virtual setting and virtual student engagement-started it over the summer, wants to publish once a week. Anticipating more than 1000 educators, will be in Austin in Feb. Unique format. She’s spoken at the last 2. Attends webinars, speaks about growth #’s, how virtual students are doing compared to other MI schools, how parents can support. Parents often feel overwhelmed in it. They should maintain a positive attitude.

Is working on Ph.D. in education policy. Entered spring 2020. Will likely be done in spring ‘24. Did her MA and is doing her Ph.D. online, it gives a lot of empathy for your online students. They may get a short summer session. Looks at “seat time” for virtual school. Arbitrary tradition of assigning time to course credits. Looks at funding policy measures. Looks at student outcomes within virtual schools. Impact st outcomes have w/in a district. Connection with local teachers. Is fully in dissertation writing mode.

Out of everything: Virtual teaching is both unique and incorporates the best teaching practices from the classroom. It requires teachers to combine the best of both worlds. Click To Tweet. Unique experience for teachers. Not for everyone.

Where can ppl find you online? https://unboxingeducation.blogspot.com/ Twitter, LinkedIn @betsyspringer

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/v-NL7nzP5f8


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