A lot of articles are being published about lessons learned in education as a result of the pandemic. As a byproduct of leaning into technology for the past 15 months, some educators have learned snow days are likely a thing of the past, while others have found better ways to communicate with their district or school communities. As someone who is immersed in the use of educational technology, here’s the lesson that stands out for me: video helped to save district and school leaders, teachers, and students while we were stuck quarantined in our homes. It kept us connected, enabled us to engage in continued learning, and may have even helped hone educators’ craft. We need to resist the urge to now shun it.
While educators (and students) are tired of hearing the words “asynchronous” and “synchronous” as they pertain to video-based lessons, imagine if this pandemic had occurred before video meeting software was available. How would educators have connected with their students? Would we have expected kids to dial into old school conference calls for lessons? Would they have been instructed to hold their phones up to their ears with one hand while sifting through photocopied packets in the other? And what about district and school staff? Endless phone calls? How about school board meetings? Education would likely have come to a complete standstill.
Lately, I’ve seen educators on social media celebrating the end of video meetings. Trust me, I get it. It hasn’t been easy. It was a difficult adjustment for everyone. That being said, video technology offers so many benefits to educators’ professional learning. So perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to turn our backs on it now.
Here are three quick suggestions for how you can leverage video, and our learnings from the last year, going forward.
1. Accelerated learning support
Despite everything teachers—and those who support them—have been through, we are about to ask them to step up once again to help accelerate learning for students in the ’21-‘22 academic year. Teachers will welcome students back to full-time classroom instruction, and some will be expected to continue to deliver online instruction via virtual academies. They’re already being told they will have to “bounce back” and “make up lost time.” Without the proper support, especially instructional coaching, teachers will once again be overwhelmed.
Video coaching software, like ENGAGE Feedback, gives teachers and instructional coaches the tools they need to build systems of support so they can get back to business. It can help with:
- Identifying and sharing effective instruction–whether in-person or remote
- Self-reflection for teachers, coaches, school leaders
- Peer feedback–via custom PLCs and cohorts
- Instructional coaching support–asynchronous and synchronous
- Building a resource library of exemplars
New teacher induction
Given all that has gone on, it’s easy to forget that thousands of preservice teachers entered the workforce during this pandemic. Their teacher preparation programs taught them to deliver instruction in a traditional way—in-person and in the classroom. But the reality of empty classrooms forced many of them to begin their careers rethinking how to deliver instruction, resulting in a scramble to learn how to engage students online. The new school year will bring change again and new challenges.
Research tells us that new teachers leave the profession in the first few years of being in the classroom because they don’t feel supported. Establishing an induction program with mentors will be critical for their development and for retention. Supporting those programs with video coaching can help those teachers reflect on their practice while also being able to reach out for support from peers and coaches. As many teachers have said over the years, sometimes the best professional development comes from the teacher down the hall. Video not only makes this easier, but it also allows for teachers in different schools to connect with and coach each other—without ever needing to schedule for a substitute or leave their own classrooms.
3. Observing and coaching for equity
The issue of equity is front-of-mind for district and school leaders around the country. As educators, and education leaders, grapple with ensuring equitable opportunities for all of their students, video technology can be a critical tool to support the process and help monitor progress along the way.
Recently, the Insight ADVANCE team announced the release of a racial equity walkthrough tool, found here. When it comes to these efforts moving beyond just the district level, what matters most is what’s happening in the classroom—the interactions between teachers and students. And just like with teacher practice, these interactions can be observed, coached, and improved.
Using video in this way can:
- Give district and school leaders a snapshot of what’s happening in the classroom and how it’s impacting students
- Support racial equity audits using classroom videos recorded and uploaded by teachers–and help detect trends
- Help educators reflect on their practice, student interactions, and classroom culture
- Identify classroom discussions to detect and eliminate biases
- Ensure that behavioral feedback is consistent and equitable
- Provide opportunities for coaching to ensure equity efforts are sustainable
I sincerely hope your district and school communities, along with your families, are healthy and safe. While we have suffered a tremendous amount of loss as a country and around the globe, better days are ahead. I also hope you have been enjoying the embrace of family and old friends as we come out of this pandemic and resume our daily lives. Don’t forget to extend a warm embrace to video as well. We would not have fared well without it.