In a dynamic educational environment where initiatives come and go, Michael Moody of Insight Advance has 7 tips for building trust around video as a tool for classroom observation and feedback.
It’s no secret that implementing new initiatives in schools can be challenging. And it’s our own fault. We’ve spent decades watching the latest new things come in and out of classrooms with little (if any) impact. And the increase in tech in schools has made this even more apparent.
As we’ve begun to see the use of video for observation and feedback increase, trust has become a central issue when addressing challenges related to implementation.
Without trust in the technology, the processes and the people, implementing the use of video for coaching and feedback will likely fall flat. But given the promising research behind the potential for video to impact classroom practice, it becomes critically important to ensure we’re focused on how to build trust (and address mistrust) in the process to facilitate success.
As you’re looking to use video more effectively (and hopefully more frequently) in the support of educators, here are a few considerations to help build trust with those being supported:
- Engage early adopters, and then utilize them when rolling out the video initiative more broadly. Although there will definitely be some skeptics when it comes to using video, there are also fans. Start by engaging those most excited and open to using video. Not only will they be helpful in helping colleagues understand the process, but starting with a smaller group will allow you to “work through the kinks” associated with the implementation of any new process or technology tool.
- Give teachers control of the process. Our work over the last few years has shown that teachers are much more supportive of using video when they have control over their own content. For example, let teachers decide which videos they want to share for feedback. By giving teachers ownership, not only does it increase their trust that the videos won’t be used without their consent, but it puts them in the driver seat for their professional growth.
- Start with “low stakes” interactions, such as self-reflection and peer-to-peer observation. By initially engaging educators in the use of video for lower stakes support (vs. observation by an administrator or for teacher evaluation), individuals will have time to get comfortable with the process and overcome initial hesitance with the use of video. After a few rounds of self-reflection, we’ve seen teachers become much more open to the idea of peer-to-peer video feedback as well as using video with instructional coaches and school leaders.
- Be specific about how the videos are being used – and stick to the plan. And better yet, provide the plan, in writing, to all involved. By being transparent about what this work should look like over the course of the school year, educators will understand the goals and responsibilities related to video observation. Ideally, it should include an overview of the process, a schedule that show what is expected and by when and information on how to get support when needed.
- Use tools that prioritize security, and thus help build trust. Although it might seem like a “do-it-yourself” approach is best, be sure to assess associated risks. For example, most video observation platforms are built to ensure security of both the videos and the feedback. The easiest way to erode complete trust in the process will be for a teacher’s video to end up on You Tube. Be sure that your tools/platform protect the video content.
- Use video for more than teacher feedback. By engaging others (i.e., coaches and school leaders) in using video, it will signal to teachers that they’re not the only ones being coached using video. We’ve had great success using videos to support coaches – they video their feedback conversations with a teacher and get feedback on the effectiveness of their coaching conversation. When it feels like “we’re all in this together,” we have more trust in the intent of the process.
- Gather feedback along the way, and ask specific questions about trust in the process. As you’re beginning on your journey to use video effectively, ask for feedback frequently. Teachers, coaches and school leaders will have various insights as the process unfolds. By gathering feedback along the way, you’ll be able to make course corrections to ensure the process is working for everyone.
We have an opportunity to transform how teachers grow, which is why it’s so important that we’re thoughtful about how we implement. If this is really about better support for teachers, we must first ensure we earn their trust. We don’t have the luxury of simply hoping this works – kids in our classrooms today need teachers who are continuously engaged in reflection and improvement. And because effective teachers are the most critical component of student success, we must ensure that teachers have trust in the process ultimately intended to support their growth.