S. Scott James shares how instructional audio is benefitting students and staff at Albany County School District #1
Q: When did you first realize the need for instructional audio?
A: I was first introduced to instructional audio in the early 2000s, when I was working as principal at Wheatland High School. It became even more of a focus when I transitioned from principal to district office as the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.
Then, when I had the opportunity to participate alongside teachers in a professional development session for Lightspeed’s Redcat system, I saw how impactful instructional audio can be.
Six months after the PD session, I had teachers from the district’s middle school reaching out to request that we invest in more instructional audio systems—that was a huge testament to the power of these solutions.
Q: Why are you an instructional audio advocate?
A: I’ve been an advocate of technology through my entire career. The thing I point out to colleagues is that instructional audio is one of the few “tried and true” solutions that has a 30+ year research base of impacting educational instruction without being totally reliant on the delivery by the teacher.
Q: How have educators reacted to instructional audio?
A: There have been several testimonials about the decrease in classroom disruptions after implementing instructional audio. Over the years, teachers have consistently shared how Redcats save their voices.
One testimonial that sticks out came from a veteran teacher who was also one of our district’s coaches. He came to me and said, ‘I always believed in my coach voice—but with the instructional audio system, I still have my voice at the end of the day and can actually use it during practice’. Instructional audio also helped him realize how much extra energy the “coach voice” requires. Most importantly, the educator shared that he saw instructional audio positively impacting student behavior. Because the entire class could hear him, students were less distracted and were able to pay attention.
Q: Has instructional audio helped your district navigate pandemic-related challenges?
A: When the pandemic hit, we realized face masks would muffle voices—impacting communication between teachers and students. Principals and teachers recognized the need for additional instruction audio systems. As soon as the first round of pandemic relief funding was announced, we decided to expand use of instructional audio across the district—our main goal is to ensure students can benefit from instructional audio both today and tomorrow.
Our district’s amazing instructors have pivoted throughout the pandemic to support remote and hybrid instruction—and we’re currently exploring how we can make instructional audio even more versatile for students who are learning through those modalities.
Q: What advice would you share with K-12 leaders who are considering instructional audio?
A: Three main points come to mind: Choose wisely, prioritize training and set expectations.
1. Choose your instructional audio solution (and partner) wisely. Our district partners with Lightspeed because their instructional audio solution has portability, durability and longevity.
2. Couple training with expectations. In addition to ensuring instructors know how to use the instructional audio system, it’s important that they understand when they should be using.
3. Monitor usage. Principals should collaborate with teachers to ensure installed systems are being used, and expectations are being met.