September 12, 2016

4 Reasons Why Coaches and School Leaders Need Video to Calibrate Instruction

This is the second in a series of posts supporting district leaders in building strong calibration systems for observers who support teacher growth, including school leaders and coaches.

As I discussed in my last blog post, “Administrators: Are Your Observers Calibrated?,” strong calibration systems are critical for ensuring observers are giving the feedback that teachers need—and perhaps more importantly, feedback that teachers trust.

In our work with districts across the country, it’s common to see different opinions within a school or district about what is or isn’t effective when it comes to instruction. This can lead to confusion, frustration, and distrust among teachers because they are getting conflicting feedback.

It can also lead to frustration among observers, as it’s not always clear who is “right” when it comes to varying opinions on the quality of an observed lesson.

However, when a strong calibration system is put in place, leaders can begin to develop a culture of trust—which will ultimately lead to a focus on growth and improvement among all educators. Video can be the key to making this happen.

Specifically, here are four reasons why districts are turning to video to calibrate their observers, whether they be coaches, principals, or district leaders.

  1. Video provides districts with transparency about what constitutes effective instruction by using a common piece of evidence that all can view. As I discussed in a recent Education Week article, “Why Video Is Essential for All Educators in the Teacher-Feedback Process,” an efficient way to make sure that all observers are applying the same standards is having them watch and score the same video and then asking them to explain how they came to their conclusions.
  2. Video defines quality instruction and feedback. In our work with both districts and states across the country, we’ve used video to not only officially certify observers for teacher observations but for fueling difficult but necessary conversations about what effective classroom practice is and isn’t. Video provides a means for observers to align their assessment of instruction and feedback with the district’s instructional framework, which then inspires teachers to have trust and confidence in the feedback process.
  3. Video removes logistical barriers. Scheduling all observers to watch the same lesson be can a logistical nightmare. In addition to getting everyone in the same place, at the same time, it can create a disruption in the classroom where the observation is taking place. The beauty of video is that it removes all these logistical barriers. With teachers filming their practice (and giving permission to have their video used for calibration purposes), observers can observe the same lessons outside of the typical school day—no matter where they are in a district.
  4. Video provides data for differentiated support for observers. Observers come into their roles with varying degrees of expertise, content knowledge, and experience when it comes to providing quality feedback to teachers. Through using video in systems like Insight’s ADVANCE Suite, districts can obtain data on the accuracy of individual observations when there are multiple observers and can then pinpoint specific areas of growth and improvement among its observers. This allows for differentiated support of observers, a strategy that gets lost when the focus is solely on the development and growth of teachers, not observers.

Being an unmatched tool for calibration, video has the potential to be a game-changer that will get coaches and school leaders on the same page and give both teachers and observers the support they want and need.

In case you missed it, check out the first blog post in this series on calibration,“Administrators: Are Your Observers Calibrated?”


Search the K12 Hub

More From Teaching Channel

Brunette teacher with face in hands sitting at desk
10 Tips to Reduce Overthinking

Teaching is a rewarding profession that allows educators to shape the minds of the next generation. However, it can be a challenging job that requires

Recommended Courses

Impactful Instructional Coaching: Reflection, Support, Growth

Teaching Excellence




Flex Credit


3 Credits


Strategies to Make Learning Stick

Instructional Strategies




1 Credits


Practical Strategies for High-Impact Leadership

Teaching Excellence




Flex Credit


3 Credits


Want to partner with us?

We’re always looking for new authors! If you’re interested in writing an article, please get in touch with us.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Get notified of new content added to K12 Hub.

Great News! Learners Edge, Insight ADVANCE and Teaching Channel are now under one umbrella. Learn More

Welcome to the Education Evolution

Learners Edge and Insight Advance have merged with Teaching Channel to become your single source for graduate-level courses, professional development, video coaching, plus lots of free resources—all in one place.

Teaching Channel logo