July 26, 2016

4 Ways Video Observation Empowers Every Educator in Feedback Process

This post is excerpted from the recent Education Week article “Why Video Is Essential for All Educators in the Teacher-Feedback Process”  by Dr. Michael Moody, CEO of Insight ADVANCE, and Jason Stricker, CEO of Insight Education Group.

When it comes to assessing and improving job performance, we can all learn from professional athletes. For years, athletes have been reviewing practice and game tapes to develop strategies and refine techniques.

Why? Because video gives coaches and athletes the same thing that all educators want and need: relevant, actionable feedback that improves practices and leads to growth.

Here’s how using video in teacher feedback, coaching and evaluation is essential not just for school administrators, but for teachers, instructional coaches, observers, and district leaders, too.

1. Teachers get objectivity and ‘bite-sized’ feedback.

Video takes the angst out of evaluation because it gives teachers and their observers a common, objective piece of evidence on which to base their conversation.

Video observation also offers teachers flexibility that in-person observation simply can’t. Having two or four formal observations per year of an entire lesson is a good start, but video can also help deliver “bite-size” feedback on specific skills like introducing a topic or transitioning from one topic to another.

Rather than submitting an hour-long lesson, teachers can submit the crucial few minutes of a lesson and get more formative feedback. This approach puts teachers in the driver’s seat of their own professional development.

2. Instructional coaches get concrete context.

Watching videos of a range of teachers in a variety of subject areas provides instructional coaches with concrete examples of strong practice and poor practice.

Then, when it comes to coaching individual teachers, having an “instant replay” of what happened in class provides an objective launch pad for helping teachers to improve their practice in specific ways. Saying, “You need to pay attention to the whole class” is much less powerful feedback than referring to a video where a teacher spent seven minutes with one student and asking how she could have included the other 29 students in the classroom in that moment.

Many coaches are hungry for recommendations on to how to improve their coaching skills with teachers. In several districts with whom we work, we have coaches film coaching sessions with teachers and then share and get feedback from other coaches from within and outside their district. Several have told us that they’ve never received feedback like this before.

3. Principals and observers get calibration and flexibility.

Video is an unmatched tool for calibration. For teachers to buy into an evaluation system, districts need to be transparent about what their bar is for assessing whether or not a teacher’s instruction is effective. Having observers watch and score the same videos, then asking them why they scored them that way, is an efficient way to make sure that all observers are applying the same standards in their observations.

Here again, video removes the logistical barriers of having all observers watch the same lesson. Observation can happen at multiple points in the year, and it can happen outside of the typical school day. With the right systems in place, districts get good data on the accuracy of observations so they can provide differentiated support for observers.

4. District leaders get inspiration for teacher professional development.

Video observation also helps district leaders by providing actionable intelligence to the organization at large. Watching videos from around the district guides district leaders to highlight common pain points, which can, in turn, drive professional development for teachers, principals, and instructional coaches.

As an example, we’ve been encouraged by our work using video with algebra teachers in Wisconsin and Georgia. Throughout the year, teachers share video of their classroom practice with a virtual coach in Colorado. The coach provides detailed, individual feedback reports that identify successes, challenges and gaps in what she sees across videos. These reports can then be used for regular in-person professional development.

In short, just as athletes have relied on video for decades to improve their practice, we believe that video is a powerful lever that can help all educators be better at their jobs.

To learn more about the invaluable opportunities with video, check out “A Game Changer: Using video to achieve high performance in the classroom | Playbook for School & District Leaders.”


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