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Using Video as a Reflection

Transforming traditional teacher PD with video coaching

by Adam Geller

Sky Ireland Mirror Tree Reflection Nature CorkIn today’s high-stakes environment of teacher evaluation, there is an increasing demand for higher quality professional development. Administrators and school leaders are challenged with providing teachers individualized, ongoing support, while not being stretched too thin – both from a capacity and budgetary standpoint.

One of the ways schools and districts are meeting this demand is by taking a technology-enabled approach to professional learning to deliver video coaching as an alternative to a system of solely in-person observation. Having a lesson recorded on video reduces the need for administrators, coaches, or colleagues to physically visit a teacher’s classroom at a specific time.

With a technology-enabled reflection process, teachers can also take an active role in the process. Teachers record and share video of their classroom practices with others who can provide time-stamped annotations alongside the teacher who also analyzes the video.

Video observation can additionally provide instructional coaches and colleagues with access to classrooms that might otherwise be unreachable. For example, in South Dakota, new teachers are paired with mentor teachers across the state who virtually visit and observe the classroom.

In “Evidence of Practice: Playbook for Video-Powered Professional Learning,” we examine how video coaching can enrich the professional learning process and provide implementation guides for 12 strategies that utilize recorded video.

If you’re on the fence about adopting an online video analysis process, here are three benefits that you might consider for using video in teacher professional learning, adapted from the research we conducted for the book:

  • Video gives teachers a mirror. Instead of relying on the teacher’s memory or notes that an observer took, video serves as an objective record. It can show evidence that the teacher did not see in real-time during instruction. And looking back on video clips can provide the cognitive space teachers need to analyze their instruction more productively.
  • Video helps build instructional communities. Powerful learning is possible when teachers work in networks that make viewing peer video a central activity. Several studies have found that teachers’ participation in video professional learning communities helped build vital professional knowledge and improve their practice.
  • Video helps teachers see themselves as their students do. John Hattie’s “Visible Learning” argues that teachers need to be able to see learning in their classrooms through the eyes of their students. Video provides a mechanism for teachers to see directly how their teaching is having an impact on student participation and learning.

Like any initiative, video coaching involves planning logistics, developing a smart strategy, establishing a supportive culture, and implementing it well day in and day out. When this is done with fidelity, video coaching can transform the professional learning process for administrators, coaches, and teachers alike.  

Interested to learn more? Watch this past video interview with edCircuit.

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