Angela Roybal-Lewis, Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education Teacher Licensure,

Erin Ford, Assistant Director of Colorado State University’s Early Childhood Center,

The computer screen flashed “incoming call” at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, July 10. It was time for university faculty and the lab school to plan for fall 2020. Although summer planning was a regular occurrence, what unfolded from this planning session was quite unprecedented for the partnership. It comes as no surprise that COVID-19 disrupted field experiences in early childhood teacher development. Several months after being closed, and with the support of state and local ordinances, the lab school reopened only to children and teachers. The partnership had to grapple with “how do we provide field experiences to early childhood education teacher candidates during a pandemic?”

The solution? Video recordings served as real-time adaptive face-to-screen field experiences. The use of video recordings in teacher preparation is not new, however, the dilemma of hybridizing field experiences reinvigorated the practice. This required a months-long exploration of technology and a curation of video recordings supported by the sharing of resources.

Some technologies seemed to become “dizzy” from the spontaneous, lively activity of the children. Other technologies lacked the capability to focus on children’s quiet moments of curiosity and wonder. An important part of this process was addressing “how do we translate what we know is rich in the classroom through technology?” A variety of classroom situations and early childhood teacher practice were recorded. Video recordings ranged from moments of young preschoolers pretending sensory bottles were medicine to older preschoolers engaging in a theoretical discussion about how mountains and rivers are formed over lunch.

Observations of the recordings occurred using an online meeting platform. The observation process followed an established empirical design:1) open watch, 2) second watch to take note of noticing’s and wonderings, and 3) third watch to align theory and practice (Grygas Coogle et al. 2019; Nagro & deBettencourt 2019). Observations were facilitated by the authors, a protocol designed by the lab school, and open-ended prompts about the authentic assessment of young children’s development. The authors were struck that the teacher candidates could spend 50-minutes unpacking a short clip. The observation process was powerful to help students say, “yeah, there’s a lot of learning going on here.” Teacher candidates were able to pause and rewind moments that unfolded rapidly or moments that made visible layers of learning and teacher-decision making.  

The work felt clunky at first. Pre-pandemic, mentor teachers occasionally recorded classroom activity but quickly saw the recordings as an added benefit to their practice; it became a powerful way to feel connected to the classroom. The process also supported the mentor teachers’ authentic assessment, reciprocally modeling the use of video analysis for teacher candidates. “It was neat to have done the focused work using the protocol during lecture and then naturally translate the work in the classroom.”

The process of hybridizing field experiences with video recordings provided access to the lab school in a new way. It also allowed for effective partnership work by meeting the immediate instructional needs of university faculty, and in turn, the learning needs of future teachers.

Above: Young preschoolers pretending sensory bottles were medicine.

Above: Older preschoolers engaging in a theoretical discussion about how mountains and rivers are formed. 


Grygas Coggle, C., Nagro, S., Regan, K., O’Brien Merrill, K., Ottley, J.R. 2019. “The impact of real-time feedback and video analysis on early childhood teachers’ practice.” Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 00(0): 1-14. 10.1177/0271121419857142

Nagro, S.A., & deBettencourt, L.U. 2018. “Reflection activities within clinical experiences: An important component of field-based teacher education.” In T.E. Hodges, & A.C. Baum (Eds.). Handbook of research on field-based teacher education (pp. 565 – 586). PA: IGI Global.