You know the expression "two heads are better than one?" When it comes to coaching teachers using video, I say that two sets of "eyes" are better than one. Last week, I equipped myself with an iPad and set off to record a lesson in an ELA classroom. I have done a plethora of observations on my own without a camera, and this time I wanted to see if using video for the coaching conversation would make for a more productive coaching experience. And it did.
Prior to using video to coach teachers, I would leave the room to draft up my observation report. The notes I had taken during the lesson were used to inform my wows (areas of strength) and wonders (areas of growth), and make recommendations for the teacher. I had to rely on my notes and my memory of the lesson for this report, and I did wonder if using recorded video of the teacher would facilitate a more authentic coaching experience. Let’s talk about my takeaways from the video coaching experience.
Seeing is Believing. The teachers with whom I work value feedback and appreciate having someone in their room who can provide a second set of eyes on lessons. Even so, it's still one thing for me to tell a teacher what I saw, and yet another to show him or her exactly what I witnessed. Seeing video of yourself teaching is eye opening and allows you to witness yourself as you really are in the physical space of the classroom. With the video, I was able to stop and show Mr. Jackson, the ELA teacher, his areas of growth and strength. The best part is that by seeing himself, he instantly realized what those areas were and began thinking about next steps.
Authentic Evidence Without the Juggling Act. Before my video coaching experiment, I felt like I had to split my efforts between catching the exchanges between the teacher and the students, and rapidly trying to record those exchanges accurately and sufficiently. I've used both a laptop and pen and paper for recording actions and speech, with a preference towards pen and paper, since I sometimes find that students - especially younger students - are distracted by the clicking of keys in the back of the classroom.
Using video allowed me to drop the juggling act, and after a minute or so the kids forgot that the camera was in the room. When it was time to type up my observation report, I wasn't relying on notes and memory anymore - the video has it all. The video gave me another lens, so to speak, for reflecting on Mr. Jackson’s lesson. More importantly, I was able to use timestamps from the video to reference particular moments and moves with him. With the video right there, we were both able to see the situation exactly as it was, thus eliminating any he-said she-said versions of events.
No Hassle, No Fuss. The ease of recording the lesson and reviewing it sealed the deal. I didn't need fancy equipment or a camera crew to film the lesson, just a portable device that records video. If I hadn't had access to an iPad, my smartphone would have worked just fine. With tools like these, it's even easier to coach teachers using video.
In short, the "experiment" with coaching using video was a hit, and this is my new way of coaching teachers from here on out. Effective coaches are detailed, meticulous, and organized with the feedback they provide to teachers. The use of video is going to help me be more systematized and give teachers what they need for professional performance growth. Mr. Jackson had this to say about the experience:
"This was my first time using video to watch myself teach. Wow! It's a whole new experience to see yourself teaching. I noticed things in the video that I hadn't thought of before. This is really going to help me see my teaching style the way the kids see me and most importantly, this will help me improve my practice. I definitely want to use video again."
How have you used video for coaching teachers? How did it work for you and the teacher?