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Feedback from observation of Shelley Bacon’s video conferenced class for AE21 – October 15, 2003. 8:30 – 9:15

This session occurred with Shelley teaching from the Video conferencing room at Walla Walla College and with connections to eight other sites, each with 1 – 3 students present. As Shelley was waiting for the classes to get connected she was on her cell phone and opening her computer and fiddling with the Elmo-like camera. Clearly, she is comfortable with technology.

As with face to face teaching, the challenges are similar. How does a teacher organize her time so that students are actively engaged in the learning. Firstly assignments need to be organized so there is accountability and possibilities for application. Shelley’s opening activity was to ask the students which Biblical character they identified with most and why. Pretty much in a round robin fashion each student responded to the question and shared why they chose a particular character. In every case, Shelley extended their comments by asking further questions or elaborating in some way. Shelley was personable, commenting on the haircut of a student, asking about a missing student, and telling an onsite teacher to “get out of here!” He was being a bit distracting by walking around behind the students on camera and making motions with his hands.

For the second major part of the lesson, Shelley sketched a diagram of a castle, courtyard and moat and invited students to share an “issue” from one of about five lessons. Then they had to decide whether the issue was still an issue today. The combination of the visual – with Shelley writing the issues either in the castle, courtyard or moat and the application to today made this very effective. Again, through very successful questioning strategies Shelley was able to help the students think of other perspectives and also invited students to comment on the perspective of the reporting student. There were some disagreements and Shelley was able to affirm student responses while still engaging the students in deeper levels of discussion.

Probably the random use of cards to call on students was one very effective means by which Shelley was able to keep the students engaged in the lesson. Also the pace of the lesson was nice – very little lag time – even with the lag in connecting to the different sites. When I asked Shelley if she could check to see what students were doing at the other sites – when she was working directly with one site, she said, “I could do that, but I think it’s better to just keep a fast-paced lesson.” Clearly, this philosophy was evident in her teaching.

It was very evident that Shelley is comfortable with this means of teaching and that the students were learning. I was particularly interested to hear her ask the students “Who won the game last night?” She was traveling and wanted to know how the game ended and the students were happy to tell her.

Shirley Freed, PhD, Andrews University Leadership Faculty

 

Date: May 4, 2004

From: Maria Lisa Welsh

Re: Shelley Bacon

This is to verify Shelley Bacon’s efficiency as an organizer and fund manager. Due to her competency in time management she led approximately 100 students and chaperones through creative attractions in the Boston area in less than a week. Every aspect of the itinerary was well organized, diverse, and time efficient. Students gained much knowledge of American history as well as enjoyed seeing nature sites. Leaders and school administrators were very grateful for this educator’s ability to provide the students with a wonderful class trip without exhausting school funds.

Maria L. Welsh
ZL Sung SDA School
Facilitator/ School Board Chair

 

May 4, 2004

To Whom it May Concern

I benefited greatly as a student from the work study program put on at Colville Valley Adventist School by Shelley Bacon. The skills I learned from my part time job as well as the periodic seminars have been advantageous to this day as I have successfully moved on to other jobs, chosen a career, and interviewed for professional schools.

As a twelve-year-old eighth grader I received my first real job working three to five hours a week at a local dental laboratory as their janitor. Along with job-specific training that I received from my employer I also learned the importance of punctuality, efficiency, and workplace integrity from individual and group job coaching from Mrs. Bacon. Later on, as a tenth-grader, I was able to interview for and receive a high school internship at the Colville Medical Clinic, due in large part to the superior job finding skills of Mrs. Bacon.

Periodically throughout our school year work study seminars were held. Some of the more memorable ones include: a career comparison workshop, guest lecturers from various career fields, training on resume construction, and advice from a university career counselor. The interest level for these school-wide seminars was very high, and I believe they made a definite impact on the lives of the students who attended. I know I still use many of the skills I learned in those workshops, and especially value the head start on work experience I gained as a result of the work study program.

Allison Bacon
Former Colville Valley Adventist School student
Current Senior Pre-med Student, Walla Walla College

 

Kendall J. Coopwood
10865 Players Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46229

May 5, 2004

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Kendall Coopwood and I am an 11th grader in the AE21 (Adventist Education for the 21st Century) program. I have had the esteemed pleasure to observe Mrs. Bacon over a period of three years. As a sophomore, I was one of Mrs. Bacon’s Humanities class students and still look to her for guidance in many of my educational endeavors.

Our program’s annual spring trip allowed me to view Mrs. Bacon in a different light. To my knowledge, she was in charge of all or the majority of the tasks (sights, lodging, food, etc.). Even with such a great responsibility, Mrs. Bacon was on top of everything. Her organizational skills shined through. She kept the teachers, students, and facilitators abreast of her status. She had schedules of worships and each day’s activities ready months before the trip. Every party involved knew exactly what to expect and there were no questions.

Planning is important, but the follow-through of what’s been planned is just as important. Because of the many people involved, you would expect confusion. But, Mrs. Bacon had obviously prepared herself for these times, and had Plan B’s and C’s in reserve. Overall, everything went smoothly in very large part to Mrs. Bacon’s exceptional organization, preparation, and management.

Sincerely,

Kendall Coopwood

 

Student Evaluations: 2003-2004 school year, second semester
Excellent
Very Good
Good
Fair
Poor
Very Poor
The course as a whole was:
9
6
0
0
0
0
The course content was:
11
4
0
0
0
0
The instructor's contribution to student learning was:
15
0
0
0
0
0
The effectiveness of the delivery format was:
7
7
1
0
0
0
Relevance of required readings (Web sites, articles, texts, etc.) was:
11
2
1
0
0
0
Quality/helpfulness of instructor feedback was:
12
3
0
0
0
0
Encouragement given students to express themselves was:
13
2
0
0
0
0
Availability of extra help when needed was:
10
3
1
1
0
0
Opportunity for practicing what was learned was:
7
7
1
0
0
0
Reasonableness of assigned work was:
2
4
5
3
1
0
Instructor as a discussion moderator/facilitator was:
8
6
0
0
0
0
Adequacy of lab resources (if applicable) was
3
2
3
1
0
0
Clarity of instructor's weekly work was:
8
5
2
0
0
0
Usefulness of instructor's Edline activities, worksheets, and additional information was:
8
5
2
0
0
0
Promptness in assessing/grading work was:
14
1
0
0
0
0
Communication between teacher and student or facilitator was:
13
2
0
0
0
0
Relative to other high school courses you have taken:
Much Higher
Average
Much Lower
The intellectual challenge presented was:
11
4
0
The amount of effort you put into this course was:
9
6
0
The amount of effort to succeed in the course was:
13
2
0
Your involvement in this course (doing assignments, etc.) was:
12
3
0
Was this course intellectually stimulating? Did it stretch your thinking?

Yeah this course was intellectually stimulating. I feel like I have learned so much more. My thinking had been stretch a lot. I was worried about learning certain things, but now I am confident.

Yeah it did almost all the things that we did made you think so I have been able to think more and think out side of the box now.

This course definitely kept me thinking and stretched my thinking. The assignments that were assigned would require a lot of thinking. Not only stretch my thinking it would give me the time to think from two perspectives.

Work that was given was ok, but then when you actually get into doing the work it makes you want to do more research; or makes you want to think about what you are actually doing and to get a broader understanding of what you’re doing.

This course was very stretching for me. The debates helped me learn to think on my feet better, and the writing assignments helped me learn to express myself so much better.

It was mainly because the assignments we had to do where not just things you could put any which answers for you had to have a deep thought process you had to “think out of the box”.

Compared to the other schools that I have attended, this school was a lot more complicated. It made you think “out of the box” instead of just around the thought. I think it was exciting to have to think so much. I learned many things just by this one class.

Yes because she would make us think about everything we do and say. Also she would make us try to think more even though you may not know anything else to say, she would still try to make you do better and think about it.

It helped me with creative thinking, and making me think deeper, and reach out for a bigger grasp of understanding a topic.(and ways to achieve that)

Yes, cause ms bacon always had some HOM or some CLQ she made us think about. Always had us doing journals A LOT. So we had to think all the time.

My teacher tried to challenge my thinking to the utmost.

Yes, because you had to think beyond the normal. You didn’t just send in work, and that was it. I think Mrs. Bacon had it in her mind that she wanted her class to be Intellectually stimulating it was. It stimulated my mind to think farther to do better and to better myself.

I say yes because it taught me in a more in depth way to think outside of the box and expand my knowledge beyond the norm.

Additional Comments:

Mrs. Bacon has been a wonderful teacher. I am proud to say although the road has gotten a little tough, I am glad I had the opportunity to be in her class. She is the only teacher I have ever had that cares so much about weather we pass or not. I know my other teachers cared but I couldn’t really tell. I felt like Mrs. Bacon was so understanding, and everything we learned in history she made it so interesting, and I have never really felt like this about a teacher in my life. I hope that I can remember everything she has taught me. I have never told a teacher that I love them. But I really love Mrs Bacon for all her hard work and understanding when we need a little bit of time to work on something.

The thing that I contributed most out of this course was writing papers. Reading something and applying it and being able to write about what you understood. In doing that it meant paying attention and being able to think deep about what was processed. Before this course started I was hesitant in writing because I knew that there was a lot of things I needed to work on. When I wrote my first paper I remember Mrs. Bacon sending back helpful hints that would help my writing skills and help me expand on what I wanted to say.

There was a question at the top asking whether we could express ourselves. In this course Mrs. Bacon is open with us and she wants us to be open with her, there are a lot of characteristics in this class. Everybody puts in their two cents and how they feel about everything and Mrs. Bacon accepts that. I have never heard from anybody that “Mrs. Bacon called my sight and told me not to say something like that ever again”. I really like when teachers accept how students are and don’t try to change them, well maybe in the way they try to write but not in their personalities. I Love my Sophomore Humanities Teacher because she’s real and wants us to do what we want and do it the best way we can.

I really have none (suggestions for improvement). This class was one of the best classes I have taken in all my school years.

Although we have had a lot of work, I have learned a lot just from this class alone. I thank you Mrs. Bacon for helping me and making sure that I didn’t fail your class. But a little less work would be nice.

I think that the main aspect of the course that really helped me was all of the bible assignments and studies. I don’t think I have ever been this close to God before, and I am glad that this class helped me see that.

I think that this course would not have influenced the students so much without you being the teacher for this year. I learned a lot from you as a person and as a student. I have never seen anybody teach a class quite the way that you do. Most of the teachers are not as excited and dedicated about new things to learn. That is one of the things I love about you!!! I never imagined why learning would be so interesting. I thought you just get through it and keep on going. Now I know there are some interesting bumps along the way. I think that the relationship (as a teacher) that you shared with each of your students was amazing. Even though I came here later in the year than everyone else, I felt excepted just like everyone else. I wanted to thank you for everything you have shown me during the year. I should tell you this more often, but I do appreciate you far more than you can imagine. Thanks.

Hi Mrs. Bacon I would like to say that I really appreciate all you have done and I loved being in your class and learned so much and you would be missed and I hope that I do see you next year. Love you.

Mrs. Bacon did an awesome job this year and challenged everyone in the class. She was a really special teacher.

Mrs. Bacon, You were the VERY best teacher I ever had. When I got discouraged first semester, it was your note in my portfolio assessment that gave me the ump not to give up and for you I am truly grateful. I don’t think I had any teacher that cared as much as you do.

Mrs. Bacon, thank you for allowing God to use you in such a positive and enlightened way. You are a great teacher and due to that you will bless many more students with teaching as you have me.

 

May 3, 2004

Shelley Bacon
Teacher Extraordinaire

During the past three years, Shelley Bacon has worked for AE21, Adventist Education for the 21st century. During this time, she has challenged herself to reach ever more advancing accomplishments and has set a pace that knows little compromise. I am pleased to have this opportunity to give testimony to her knowledge and educational skills.

Effective Teacher/Mentor

My teaching experience expands more than 20 years and it has been a joy and inspiration to work with this exceptional teacher who tirelessly creates strategies for helping her students to achieve success. When kids enter her class, they have the typical ranges in skills and levels of motivation. However, this is a teacher who makes it so difficult for her students to fail that they give in and succeed because it is easier! The students quickly begin to close the gaps on their learning skills and begin to advance to higher levels of growth. Her intellect creates games that teach patterns and vocabulary. She puzzles, questions, invites and involves all of her students into an engaging environment of learning, and she is perhaps the first to establish student debates via videoconferencing. In October 2003, she was recognized for her success by being awarded the Southern Union Innovative Teacher of the Year Award.

Dynamic Change Agent

Shelley has created opportunities for advancing the cause of distance learning and AE21 by both inviting interested teaching professionals to participate in the program as well as going on site to the local conference offices and colleges in order to introduce them to the concept of videoconferencing. She has been an effective change agent by inviting decision makers outside of the program to see and interact with her students. In addition, the coursework that she has created and continues to refine is built upon the principals and goals of the North American Division’s Journey to Excellence. Her work has been sent to conference and union education superintendents who use it as an example of the workable ideal. Not only does this practical example provide PR benefit for AE21, it encourages other educators to advance in their skills for more effective curriculum development.

Effective Organizer

In the spring of 2003, Shelley organized nearly all of the details for the student’s AE21 spring trip. These twice-yearly trips are essential for promoting student/staff relationships and require a high degree of planning so that all students interact with each segment of the experience. Menus for cooking on site, activities that balance work and recreation, supervision, vehicle arrangements, destination resources, worships, a banquet with entertainment, cost management concerns, flights to and from the trip, sleeping arrangements, as well as chaperone and staff duties must all be planned in advance. These trips are a sizable chore for us to manage however Shelley invested the time in planning so that the 80-some attendees could maximize the benefits of being together.

A Collaborative Consultant

Shelley is a prolific communicator using both the spoken and written word to not only inform, but to build the human connect. Her article, AE21 Distributed Education…Distance Learning With a Personal Twist was published in the April/May 2003 issue of The Journal of Adventist Education. In addition, distance education develops peculiar skills in its teachers; it is common to walk by their laptop during the day and see them working 4-6 instant message text boxes on the screen while attempting to answer email and grade student work. Instead of communication being metered in polite hand-raised occurrences, distance education communication flows much like a river. The greater task is to notice who is NOT talking to you rather than who is and to involve all in verbal or written expression. Shelley empowers all of her students with the gift of words.

A Scholarly Knowledge of Philosophical Foundations

Shelley’s curriculum planning demonstrates the educational philosophies of Journey to Excellence, Backward Design, Cooperative Learning, and the 4MAT natural cycle of learning. In addition, her faith and confidence in her heavenly Father is embedded throughout her work giving it relevance and meaning.

A Scholarly Knowledge of Technology and its Application

Before coming to AE21, Shelley spent several years with her family in Africa. During that time, she developed keen problem solving skills and the self-reliance to figure out how to make things work. It appears that she is able to apply those skills to new problems in order to translate them into success for her students as well as colleagues. She is typically the first to discover technological shortcuts as well as the benefits of new applications for her work in AE21. She is proficient in a variety of computer applications as well as the use of electronic peripherals.


Nancy Melashenko
Florida Conference Associate Superintendent of Education
Director of AE21 Distributed Education, 2000-2004

Response: I am passionate about the areas of leadership represented in the letters and other documentation above. Each of my projects, and therefore all of my documentation, is in some way related to kids: school kids, church kids, my kids, other people's kids. I have been blessed to be able to work with kids for most of my life, and I have been able to pass on blessings to others as well.

While most of these documents contain praises for the work I have done, I can see a need to address one area that my students have pointed out not only in the evaluation included here, but also in previous similar evaluations given to me in past semesters and years by these and other students. As is evident from the comments and scores given to me by my students, there is general agreement that the class I have taught them ranges from good to excellent. However, one area on the evaluation consistently receives significantly lower scores than any other area: reasonableness of assigned work. When I ask my students to "grade" me - telling them that I get to grade them all the time and that it only seems fair that they (the ones who know best what this class is REALLY like) grade me - I enable them to be completely honest by having them send their completed evaluations to another teacher via email. This teacher removes any trace of their personal identification so they can answer the questions candidly. This particular evaluation is the 6th such evaluation given to my students at AE21, and every one has had similar results for the same question. I need to take this into account when preparing my assignments for the upcoming year, realizing that it may be very normal for students to complain about the work load, but also recognizing that this area has consistently received the lowest marks in the evaluation every time. If I'm going to bother to continue asking my students to "grade" me but never am willing to make any changes based on their evaluations, what's the point? A wise and effective leader should be willing to look at "subordinate" opinions of their leadership and make appropriate changes (Goleman, Primal Leadership). Next year's students will be happy that I took this leadership program and read books that helped me realize that I need to make changes in this area of my curriculum!