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Motivating Educators: The Best of Wavelength, Part I

Distributed by Chip Taylor Communications, 2 East View Drive, Derry, NH 03038-4812; 800-876-CHIP (2447)
Produced by Chip Taylor Communication
Director n/a
VHS, color, 25 min.

Reviewed by Charles J. Greenberg, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Yale University


Good teachers are masters of student motivation in the classroom, but the art of continually caring and nurturing development of excellent teachers over a professional lifetime is indeed an art. It is no surprise then that a theater troupe that includes former educators has taken artistic approach to the dynamics of collegial relationships, competencies, and evaluation. In the first part Motivating Educators, existing films of the Wavelength ensemble's humorous live stage portrayals have been edited and recast as teacher development continuing education.

The video presentation is organized around several basic teacher development themes and narrated by Wavelength Executive Director Jim Winter, who also appears as a teacher in one of the first of the three vignettes. Mr. Winter provides a brief post-production introduction before the video portion of each theme. He follows each video segment with an oral summary accompanied by a titled set of discussion questions or activities. Indication is given for appropriate pausing of the video presentation to allow for discussion in a class or group setting.

The educational themes chosen for the initial three vignettes in this series are universal in elementary and secondary teaching positions: unwritten rules in collegial relationships, teacher standards and evaluation, and learning styles. Each vignette presents classic personality stereotypes that generate a warm and boisterous response from the live audiences. The presentations seem to have been recorded at a national or regional conference of educators, and the audience clearly identifies with the exemplars of their colleagues back home. It is up to the viewers of the video to translate the humor and stereotypes into a self-reflection of their tendencies and schemas, and the discussion points and recommended activities do bring out important and less humorous themes of skills, knowledge, and attitudes that enhance teaching.

The use of original live theatrical video certainly gives a sense of the authenticity of the humor, but the video production quality for the acting is only as good as the onsite sound and video equipment. It is certainly legible and audible. The actors portraying teachers are polished and humorous and obviously enjoy working in front of large groups. There is multicultural representation in one of the vignettes on this first videotape in the series.

As a "trigger" for teacher training discussion of attitudes, competencies, and roles, I would recommend this videotape for general elementary and secondary education professional development collections. A preview of the additional parts to this series is also recommended.