Since we began using video as part of our professional learning communities, teachers have progressed from feeling anxious and apprehensive about the process to requesting that they be allowed to do it more often. It’s not because they suddenly love seeing themselves on video, though that does become easier for them quickly. It’s because they see value in it and understand that it’s improving their practice.
One of the most noticeable ways it improves their practice is through boosted confidence and self-awareness of how they perform in the classroom.
Confidence in Community
Before we adopted ENGAGE Feedback, our teachers were often teaching in isolation. When they planned together or otherwise discussed classroom activities, they assumed they were all doing the same thing. Once they were able to watch each other, they could see all the nuances and began making comments like, “I’m not doing that,” or “I should try that.”
Watching each other on video opened up a whole new level of collaboration and cross-curricular discussion that we didn’t have before. Now when they have challenges, it’s much easier for them to share with peer teachers or teacher leaders and get suggestions for improvement.
Video also gives us an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the things that individual teachers do well. An instructional coach or an administrator might tell a teacher, “Hey, I really liked the way you did this. Would you mind recording it?” Then we not only end up with an exemplary video of excellent teaching in a real classroom, but that teacher receives validation that they’re doing a good job, it’s being noticed, and it’s having an impact beyond their own classroom.
Other than their evaluations, our teachers weren’t getting a lot of feedback before we adopted video, so that kind of acknowledgement has really helped some of our teachers become confident enough to step into more of a role as teacher leaders.
Less Trial and Error for New Teachers
We’ve worked hard in our district to create standards-based instruction that leans on the curriculum as a resource, rather than a program that must be followed to the letter. Many of our teachers were already doing that well, but some others, especially our less experienced teachers, have needed a little help.
I always tell new teachers that the first year includes a lot of trial and error. It just takes time to figure out what’s going to work best for themselves and their students. But when they are able to watch other teachers teaching the same lessons, they are able to see and implement the little details more quickly than they might have prior to our use of video.
A More Complete Perspective
When we first began using video, at times it seemed the first thing a lot of teachers said was something like, “Oh my gosh, I really need to get to the point and incorporate more student talk.”
As an instructional coach, it’s a definite win when teachers are able to self-reflect and initiate their own changes. It’s so much more powerful than having an outsider come in and suggest they try something different. Not only do teachers have a greater degree of ownership, but often times feedback is perceived as personal. When they are self-identifying areas of improvement, you remove that component completely.
I’m proving instructional practices is a never-ending process that requires a lot of hard work from everyone involved. But with ENGAGE Feedback, our teachers have developed a wealth of confidence and insight from seeing inside their peers’ classrooms, observing more experienced teachers’ lessons, and even just getting an unbiased perspective of their teaching practice.