Great Teaching, Great Feedback is a virtual coaching service for teachers. Districts contract with the service to support teachers in areas where they are unable to meet the demands for coaching on their own. Great Teaching, Great Feedback (GTGF) hires their own coaches, matches those coaches to the district’s teachers, and then supports the coaching relationship through the BloomBoard platform. The product was piloted in 2011 and launched in autumn 2012.
GTGF matches district teachers with one of its 60 paid coaches from TNTP’s highly trained network; coaches are selected based on their experience in teaching, the subject area, and the needs of the district. Over a period of time defined by the district (such as six to eight weeks), teachers upload video clips of themselves teaching; coaches will provide detailed feedback within three days.
Coaches use the BloomBoard platform to watch the video clips and add time-stamped comments. After a coach sends feedback to a teacher, they schedule a follow-up phone call or email to debrief and discuss next steps.
GTGF is a district-facing product: Districts provide GTGF with a teacher-performance rubric that is used throughout the district. The coaches use that rubric to work with teachers. The service is highly customized to the needs of a district; coaches can focus their feedback on specific initiatives the district has put in place. GTGF also distinguishes itself from other video coaching tools by providing both a platform and coaches as part of one service (rather than leaving it up to a district to find coaches).
Primary Users: Teachers and coaches are primary users. Districts are the primary purchasers.
Cost: The cost is based on expected usage-namely, on the number of rubrics that a district wants coaches to use and on the number of videos of teachers that the district wants coaches to review. There is an initial fee of $15,000 per rubric; this covers training for the coaches on a district’s rubric and language they prefer coaches use when giving feedback. That fee does not include observations, which come in packages. The typical package is about 400 observations with 100 participating teachers. The cost is approximately $200-250 per observation, which includes full video feedback and a debrief phone call or email. Teachers also get unlimited access to the BloomBoard platform, for the period of their coaching relationship. Together that means a district can expect a minimum starting cost of about $100k per year.
Skill Development: Pedagogical and Instructional skills
On-Label Use: Teachers upload four videos over the course of six to eight weeks and receive feedback from a coach who has experience in their content area. After each round of feedback, the coach and teacher debrief over the phone or via email.
Platforms: The GTGF service uses the BloomBoard platform to host videos and resources. BloomBoard is web-based and requires a standard Internet connection. Teachers can use any video recording device to capture video.
Deal breakers: It takes teachers about one hour to upload a 20-30 minute video clip (based on internet speed) so teachers need ample uploading time. Use of the tool requires a level of comfort with using video in the classroom. Cost might be an issue for some districts.
- Types of Schools Using It: Large, urban districts including Tulsa Public Schools and DC Public Schools
Not all districts have in-house coaches who work with teachers on a regular basis. And while some may, those coaches don’t always have experience in the same content or grade levels as their mentees. Great Teaching, Great Feedback helps districts solve these challenges by providing their own network of coaches and matching coaches to teachers who need mentorship based on their content and grade level expertise. Most coaches are current teachers or administrators.
The product is tailored to each district’s rubric and language around teaching practices, so that districts can maintain their own standards for teaching. Great Teaching, Great Feedback (GTGF) sends lead coaches through a district’s training program. Lead coaches then train other coaches on how to use a district’s evaluation rubric and methods. The coaching squad practice role-playing with each other so they master the style preferred by the district.
How does it work?
When GTGF partners with a school district, the organization trains and norms its team of coaches to the practices of the district so that coaches are fluent in the methods and rubrics of the local teachers. A lead coach typically spends one or two weeks training on a district’s rubric, ideally with the district itself, and then another three weeks training other coaches.
Each coach receives around 20 hours of training over the course of two weeks. Five to six weeks after signing a contract, GTGF can begin matching a district’s teachers to the organization’s trained coaches. Districts can direct the program to use multiple rubrics (say, for different schools). But GTGF will charge an additional $15,000 for each additional rubric that its coaches must be trained to use.
All coaches go through a rigorous screening process; only 1% of those who apply are hired. Coaches are current teachers or administrators, with a minimum of three years experience in the classroom. The initial test involves watching a video of a teacher and providing feedback according to a designated rubric. Successful candidates then move on to a set of interviews and role plays. The hiring process takes two to three months.
Once coaches are trained on a district’s rubric, each participating teacher from that district fills out a form describing the subject, grade level, specific curriculum they use, the behavior management systems they implement, and the special needs of their students. GTGF uses those answers to match them with coaches by subject and grade level.
Once the coach is identified as a match, they send an introductory email to the teacher, along with login information for BloomBoard.
Teachers upload videos of themselves in the classroom to the BloomBoard platform. Typically, teachers will be asked to submit on average four over the course of a six to eight weeks. Teachers can also use the full BloomBoard platform, including its resource marketplace and goal setting tools for the entire duration of the district’s contract with GTGF.
Teachers are responsible for uploading videos of themselves teaching to the BloomBoard platform. It takes approximately one hour to upload a 20- to 30-minute video clip. The upload time is “inactive time,” meaning that teachers can use their computers for other things while they wait but teachers should still set aside ample time to upload. When a teacher is submitting a video clip, he can also upload other evidence (such as lesson plans or student work) to BloomBoard.
Once all the materials are ready to submit, a calendar pops up so the teacher can choose the coach’s due date for returning feedback. There is a guaranteed three-day turnaround. Once the coach has returned feedback to the teacher, the teacher reads through it and they debrief via phone call or email to review next steps and discuss further.
Coaches provide multiple types of feedback on each video clip: They can add comments in real time on a video clip or they can tag comments with skills described by the relevant effectiveness rubric. (This second step gives teachers insight into how they scored on the rubric.) Typically, coaches identify three strengths and two action steps for the teacher. The final step in the process is a phone call or email exchange with the teacher to debrief about the feedback.
How is it used?
The service is used to take a load off of the principal and assistant principal by providing highly relevant feedback. It is particularly helpful for new teachers because it offers them mentorship they might otherwise not have. It can also support teachers who are underperforming by isolating target areas for growth.
Who is using it?
GTGF is being used by whole districts, mainly large, urban districts including Tulsa Public Schools and DC Public Schools. GTGF customizes the product for each district. DC Public Schools, for instance, asks teachers to upload four videos over two to three months; Tulsa Public Schools asks teachers upload two videos during the autumn and another two videos in the Spring.
Training, Integrating, and Implementing
GTGF creates a PDF document for each district to guide teachers through the sign-in process. There are also 2- to 3-minute videos to familiarize teachers with using BloomBoard.
GTGF is integrated with BloomBoard, which allows teachers to upload videos from any recording device or camera. If every school in a district has a different teaching rubric, the program becomes very costly as districts must pay an additional $15,000 every time they ask the GTGF coaches to use another rubric.
Because GTGF is tailored to each district, it can it be linked to other PD activities and goals within the school. For example, if a district focuses on two indicators in their rubric such as “checking for student understanding” and “adjusting instruction based on student understanding” then coaches can focus all their feedback around these indicators.
Assessment and Data
Teachers receive qualitative feedback as well as scores associated with their district’s assessment rubric. Coaches provide many types of feedback, including identifying teachers’ strengths, recommending action steps, annotating videos with comments and creating ratings based on the district’s rubric. The scores are not meant to be linked to formal performance evaluation, however, it is up to the district to decide how they would like the data to be used.
In most cases, GTGF aims to encourage districts to use the feedback to improve performance - not to evaluate teachers. It does this by protecting exchanges between teachers and their coaches.No one, including administrators, have access to the coaches’ feedback or ratings. Districts may direct teachers to share their videos and coach’s feedback with others in the school
BloomBoard guarantees teacher privacy on its platform. GTGF checks on a district’s compliance with state laws and regulations concerning student privacy when it begins working with a district. (For instance, it checks whether a district has secured permission to make videos of classes.) So far, GTGF representatives say that few districts have asked GTGF to collect parent consent forms because the teaching videos are not publicly shared.
GTGF is a strong fit for districts that use the same teacher performance rubrics across all schools in the district and for schools that have experience using video in the classroom. If many teachers in a school are uncomfortable using video in the classroom, it will be challenging to use the tool.
It also takes teachers about one hour to record a 20- to 30-minute video clip. This is “inactive time,” meaning that teachers can use their computers for other things while the video is uploading but the time needed may pose a challenge for some teachers.
GTGF is web-based and requires standard Internet connection. The tool uses BloomBoard’s platform, which accepts any type of video file.
A district will likely spend at least $100,000 to get GTGF up and running for one year’s time. That cost includes an initial fee of $15,000 for training coaches to use a district’s rubric, and an estimated 400 observations (which covers about 100 teachers). Increasing the number of rubrics, the number of observations per teacher or the number of participating teachers will increase the cost.
GTGF encourages districts to offer credit for PD hours but that is the choice of the district. As of late 2013, neither Tulsa Public Schools nor DC Public Schools assign credit hours for the work teachers do with their TNTP coaches.
There are other video observation tools such as Edthena, SmarterCookie and Torsh. What makes GTGF stand out amongst these other video observation tools is extensive training that GTGF coaches receive and the extensive feedback they provide users.
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