My colleague, Molly, and I are both Curriculum & Instruction Specialists for Learners Edge. One of our roles as C & I Specialists is to ensure Learners Edge is meeting educator needs by offering the professional development teachers need and want.
Besides asking you directly—(Teachers, please let us know your needs! You can email me at [email protected] any time to offer your suggestions!), we travel the world to track down hot topics and to find out what educators are interested in learning!
This year, the ASCD Conference was presented in Anaheim, California and was billed as “EMPOWER17 The Conference for Every Educator!” Enthused by the message of educator empowerment, we headed west to the Golden State to learn about the latest (and greatest!) in education, curious about what we would discover.
And, discover, we did!
One of the things we discovered, was the conference emphasized six areas of focus:
- The Whole Child-ensuring all children are healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged
- Transformational Leadership-building a continuum and capacity for leadership
- Global Engagement-preparing children and educators for an interconnected global society
- Poverty & Equity-removing barriers to enable learning and providing opportunities for all students
- Redefining Student Success-focusing on formative assessment, as well as those that reach beyond academic measures
- Teaching & Learning-using innovative teaching to spark meaningful student learning
Reviewing the conference offerings, I noted this workshop listed under the Transformational Leadership category: “Seeing it Clearly: Videotaping for Self-Reflection and Instructional Coaching,” led by Dr. Tonya Goree, Principal, Francone Elementary in Houston, Texas.
Dr. Goree explained her 26 years of experience in education, with seven years as principal. Dr. Goree truly believes that both teachers and students are lifelong learners. She facilitates video coaching opportunities with teachers each year, growing the capacity and skill set of Francone’s teachers to ensure each child gets the best education possible. High expectations are set for teachers and students alike, with everyone in the building working towards the same common goal – student success.
Initially, when reading the workshop description, I felt anxious. The thought of being videotaped as I taught made my stomach queasy and my head filled with questions. Yet, the line-up of teachers waiting to get in the door to attend this workshop told me this was an intriguing topic for educators:
Combining self-reflection with instructional coaching can build the academic capacity of all students. What could be more powerful in supporting self-reflection than the ability to retrospectively observe one’s interactions? Videotaping allows post-lesson coaching and self-reflection that is grounded in actual events, rather than the uncertainty of recollection. This session will provide insight, an action plan for instructional leaders, and specific details of how this process has been successfully incorporated into a school culture, positively affecting both academics and discipline and resulting in significant student growth. Leaders will leave empowered, ready to build a school community that supports video coaching and self-reflection. Participants will also learn how Sibme, a video coaching and resource sharing technology platform, facilitates reflective conversations in a simplistic format. Bring your device for a hands-on opportunity.
After hearing Dr. Goree describe and explain the use and intent of video enhanced professional development, I no longer felt anxious. Using a polling app, the workshop participants were given the ability to ask questions anonymously from our phones. Dr. Goree thoroughly answered our questions and dispelled our anxieties.
Goree discussed the apprehension most of the teachers at Francone Elementary School experienced when beginning the video-enhanced professional development initiative. She explained how teachers at her school were placed into small groups of 4-5 with one teacher-coach for each group, and she strongly emphasized that the videotaping tool was for teacher self-reflection and self-improvement and not for *evaluation. She highlighted that establishing trust was key and told us how she did so by being video-taped herself leading meetings (she would then review the videotape and use it to improve her meetings.) Her guidance and reassurance helped teachers become comfortable with the process of videotaping and helped create trust between coaches and teachers.
(*Note: Jim Knight’s book Focus on Teaching does include a chapter on video-enhanced teacher evaluation.)
Here is a list of some of the questions from the video-enhanced professional development workshop:
Are teachers concerned the videotapes will be used for evaluation?
Dr. Goree emphasized that her school used videotaping solely for the purpose of self-observation and improvement in one’s teaching practice. She provided many examples and stories about teachers with whom she worked who—upon reviewing the videotape of themselves teaching—consistently were surprised by seeing things in their teaching they weren’t aware of. And, after being videotaped three times (once in the beginning of the semester, once in the middle and once at the end) grew more comfortable with the process and found it amazingly beneficial.
How do you get teachers to trust in this process?
It must be communicated that the purpose of videotaping is for coaching and self-reflection. Teachers understand that videotaping is a tool for self-improvement and reflection. Teachers who used videotaping consistently shared how beneficial it was to the improvement of their professional practice.
In addition, Dr. Goree requested that each of her meetings be videotaped so she could model the process for teachers. She demonstrated the ease of taping, her ability to adapt to the camera’s presence, and how she used the videos to reflect on her meeting facilitation skills in order to make changes and/or improvements in the future.
Are there issues with the “legalities” of videotaping? In other words, what about union regulations?
As stated above, Dr. Goree emphasized that the videotaping was used for professional development/self-improvement/self-awareness only and was not used for evaluation purposes.
What do you use to videotape—are there concerns about lighting or volume?
At Francone Elementary School, iPads were used to videotape and there were no issues with sound or lighting, and they found the iPad portable and easy to use.
Dr. Goree attributes videotaping and coaching to direct improvement in teaching and resulting changes to instruction as a result of their post-video observations. She shared the following statistics from Francone Elementary School in her presentation:
- 63.8% overall reduction in discipline referrals
- 90% decrease in classroom disruptions
There are many steps involved in using video-enhanced professional development including establishing trust, instructional coaching, how to use video to coach oneself, video learning teams, and turning ideas into action.
To learn more, please check out Focus on Teaching: Using Video for High Impact Instruction, or contact Dr. Tonya Goree: [email protected] Twitter: @DrGoree
One final note…
Molly and I also loved the workshop called The Freak Factor featuring author David J. Rendall discussing how we can “discover our uniqueness by flaunting weakness.”
Please watch for my upcoming blog on the Freak Factor!
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