I believe video is an essential and powerful teaching tool. But, it will only work if teachers feel safe when sharing video of themselves. My first safe place to discuss my practice using video was in a National Board Certification cohort with five other teachers in Chicago. As part of the National Board process, candidates submit video of their practice teaching in large and small group contexts.
It was in that cohort that I met my first Rock Stars. One taught sophomore literature in a classroom with ten different languages. Another led brilliant political discussions with freshmen in one of the city’s more challenging high schools. When our cohort met every Tuesday night to share video of our practice, I saw teaching that inspired me. My examples were essentially blooper reels.
It could have been devastatingly painful, and sometimes it was. But my time in this collaboration completely changed my practice because it was safe. We were explicit with each other early on that our practice stayed within the productive structure of the cohort.
I currently work for the Academy for Urban School Leadership in Chicago to help develop pre-service teachers in a year-long residency program. Video plays a huge role in our development process and our history with using video has taken an arc that may be familiar to those of you who also work with new teachers. We started by capturing with Flip cameras and progressed to using iPods and now iPads and iPhones. We’ve learned a lot along the way and I will share those lessons in a future blog.
As many of my coaching colleagues at AUSL also went through the National Board Certification process, we knew the power of reviewing video and shared the belief that if we are going to effectively develop our teachers using video they needed to feel safe. Any video we shared online had to be available to a select few who coach that teacher. Discussion around that video needed to adhere to protocols to ensure constructive feedback which included positive elements of the lesson. We still wanted more:
- Simple uploads
- Access to video of our network’s myriad Rock Stars to serve as exemplars for management and instruction
- Public and private structures to collaborate around video
- An online structure that is secure
It was about this time that I discovered Teaching Channel. Like many of you, I found the site and LOVED the videos and its ease of use. Teaching Channel’s video library already supports more than 260,000 teachers and includes more than 170 videos focused on Common Core State Standards. I wanted that same online structure for AUSL. So, over the last year, we have been working shoulder to shoulder with Teaching Channel to develop our Tch Teams portal, which we named TchAUSL.
Tch Teams impacted how we use video for coaching and mentoring teachers from the start. With Tch Teams we were able to expand our capacity to collaborate and coach our 160 pre-service teachers at 14 training academies with a host of new tools:
- Online groups where our mentor and resident teams can securely share and discuss video
- Access within the platform to the amazing collection of Teaching Channel videos as well as those finely tuned exemplars from Rock Stars across our network of 25 schools
- A note-taking interface which encourages active engagement with video
- The capacity to upload videos from iPads or iPhones to a secure space with a single tap
We have seen some terrific impact from these collaborations. Our users have created dozens of groups on their own to create both private and public areas to discuss practice. We have our own Teaching Channel and a library of 60 videos to showcase exemplars of practice from our Rock Stars. Soon, we will have a secure area to house and share critical resources within our network.
After this first school year with Tch Teams, I’m incredibly thankful for collaborative spaces we’ve built with Teaching Channel, and I’m confident that we have all the tools we need to grow our next generation of Rock Stars.