Lights, Camera, Action: 3 Video Coaching Ideas You Can Implement Next Week

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You’re excited to implement video observation in your school or district. But how will it fit within your school or district’s professional development plan?

This is a common question for organizations planning to implement a video coaching process. Technology platforms can make classroom observation easier, but it’s up to you to decide what type of learning activities are a good fit to go beyond the “coach observes teacher” model.

At Edthena, a video coaching platform, we’ve been collecting the best ideas from our partners—teachers, principals, professors, and researchers—and sharing with organizations who are still defining their visions for success.

Here are three of the go-to ideas that we think could be implemented in any organization using video for PD.

Getting Started: Classroom Tour

Getting teachers comfortable with the idea of using video and building confidence with the technology are important steps in rolling out a video-powered PD process.

A great way for teachers to gain initial experience is asking them to upload a classroom-tour video.

In addition to familiarizing teachers with a video-powered process, this activity provides teachers access into peers’ classrooms, helping them learn from each other and gain context for future observations which might occur.

How it works:

  • Teacher narrates a tour of their empty classroom, highlighting the various learning spaces and detailing why the room was arranged in a particular way
  • Teacher shares the video with a group of peers and coaches
  • Peers and coaches provide reactions and thoughts

When You’re Ready: Virtual Learning Walks

Learning walks are becoming a popular strategy for sharing best practices throughout a school or district.

The common approach involves a small group of educators visiting a handful of classrooms during a certain content block or hour. Along the way they observe and study elements of practice that seem to be working and then highlight them in a debrief discussion. (The teacher observed usually is often not part of the debrief.)

But having teachers and coaches physically walk into each other’s classrooms can be very disruptive for students. Combined with the difficulty of ensuring everyone is available at the same time during the school day, learning walks often turn out to be good ideas that are hard to execute.

Virtual learning walks, on the other hand, offer the same opportunities for gaining insight without the distraction to students and challenges of scheduling. There is the additional benefit that the teachers whose classrooms were observed can participate in the discussion.

How it works:

  • Teachers selected for observation during the learning walk record a segment of a lesson or learning activity
  • The teachers share their video with the group
  • Each learning walk participant provides the teachers with comment as well as replies to others’ comments to spur conversation

More info on learning walks: Teachers Observing Teachers

Video Champion: Paired Improvement Cycle

Part of the value of the virtual learning walks is the active participation of the teacher who is being observed. They hear (and see) ways that they can change action in their classroom to lead to a more productive learning environment.

To further develop teachers’ skills around noticing their habits and translating that into change, a more sustained effort to self-analyze is needed. The paired improvement cycle helps teachers do this while running an experiment to try a modified instructional practice.

Pairing with a colleague through this process helps build accountability for the participating teachers -- they make a commitment to enact a change to a peer who also commits to a change in their own classroom.

It’s important to note that the colleague need not be in the same subject or grade. There is certainly benefit to shared, subject-matter expertise, but the main goal to this learning structure is to facilitate meaningful reflection while also encouraging follow-through from the teachers who participate.

How it works:

Week 1: Document baseline

  • Teachers self-select a focus area for the coaching the cycle, for example, use of checks for understanding. This focus could be informed by prior coaching conversations, but it should be teacher driven.
  • Teachers record video evidence of selected classroom practices and share with their peer.

Week 2: Commit to change

  • Teachers provide feedback on their partner’s video.
  • Debrief meeting between coach and teachers to discuss what was noticed and generate ideas for change.
  • In the meeting, each teacher decides and commits to a specific instructional change or strategy.
  • Note: This meeting can be conducted virtually (e.g. video call)

Week 3: Enact change

  • Teachers implement changes and document outcomes with new video recording.

Week 4: Discuss implication

  • Teachers provide feedback on their partner’s video.
  • Debrief meeting between coach and teachers to reflect on impact of changes and implications for future classroom practice.

It feels important to note that the change enacted in week three may not be a good one, and it’s as much good outcome to determine that a strategy doesn’t work for a teacher as it would be to determine that it had a positive impact on the learning environment.

See a version of this process explained: Making Observations More Meaningful For Teachers

Do you have other ideas based on your own experience? Let us know!

Adam Geller (@Edthena) is CEO of Edthena

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