One of the primary goals of an instructional coach is to provide job-embedded professional development through a variety of methods that match the purpose and needs of those we serve alongside. Starting out as a new instructional coach and as I sought to add strategies that would strengthen my coaching and continued growth of myself and others, the use of video became a high-impact method to add to my repertoire. Utilizing video has not only lifted the level of my support around teaching and learning but has also provided an invaluable resource to my coaching toolbox. If you are new to utilizing video in your current role or are looking to give your use of video a reboot, here are some tips based on my experience that can help get you started, refine your craft, and open up new possibilities for learning and growth.
Don’t Get Lost in the Technology
While there are many options that exist surrounding the use of video and video reflection, do not let your comfort level with technology become a barrier. A simplified approach can support the manageability and accessibility of video. All you need is a device that has the capability to capture video. Something I typically always have with me as I support teachers, staff, and students throughout my school is my phone. Having this device at my fingertips allows me to capture those in the moment opportunities that otherwise would have been lost and instead provides me with instant access.
It is important to match your method to your purpose. While you may feel the need to record an hour of footage within a classroom setting, starting with small snippets of video aligned to an intentional focus can provide instantaneous insights. For example, if I am supporting a colleague in questioning techniques, I can gather small samples throughout an instructional block rather than recording the entire block. This supports the efficiency and balance of time for all parties involved as well. When utilizing video, hone in on your purpose to determine the best length of time and means of gathering evidence.
Lead by Example
Video can bring various levels of comfort depending on the context in which it is being utilized. Knowing that video is powerful not only in my work as an instructional coach, but also for all teachers, staff, and students, I continue to model and show my vulnerabilities with video. It is difficult to show others the power of video if we are not willing to utilize it ourselves. I find opportunities to record whenever possible to demonstrate that utilizing video is not an event but rather an embedded part of the learning and growth process. Bring teachers, staff, and students along with you. Focus on the “we” approach and provide opportunities to come alongside teachers, staff, and students in shared experiences utilizing video to eliminate some of the initial apprehensiveness and create the conditions needed to try themselves.
Take a Learner Stance
Utilizing video opens up lenses for inquiry no matter where you may be in your journey. It allows you to take a learner stance and reflect through both verbal and nonverbal lenses. While your lenses for learning may or may not be directly connected to an intentional goal area, allow time to reflect and process what you are seeing. What are you noticing? What are you wondering? Often, this means watching a video multiple times and gathering new insights and opportunities for feedback with each preview. By utilizing video, it allows for continual pausing and rewinding of an authentic learning experience. Rather than base feedback and reflections on assumptions or notes that may or may not provide an accurate snapshot, video provides evidence-based feedback. No matter the context of the video, provide time and space to preview and reflect both individually and collectively. It is through this inquiry and reflection from video that provides a means for ongoing growth as well as actionable next steps.
Video is Limitless
While video can support the growth and reflection around teaching and learning within the coaching relationship, the other ways in which it can be utilized is limitless. For example, through utilizing video, I have been able to build a collection of professional learning experiences ranging from past professional development sessions to recordings of various instructional practices across grade levels and content areas in the classroom setting. This supports the on-boarding of new staff, opportunities for ongoing learning and growth with a relevant and authentic context, and highlights and celebrates our teachers, staff, and students through shared ownership and collective efficacy within the school community. Video has also provided support for child study opportunities within our building, which can then be shared and reviewed to determine the best means of support for individual learner needs. Stay curious and when in doubt, record it!
Video can be one of the most valuable tools for an instructional coach. No matter where you are in the process, an opportunity exists to learn and grow through utilizing video. It has enhanced my coaching in ways never previously imagined and has led to growth for all learners. Besides my own ongoing growth, through these experiences, it has created conditions for empowerment, reflection, and voice for teachers, staff, and students within our entire school community. Video is not a “thing”; it is a means of impactful reflection and growth around teaching and learning.
Interested in learning how video will benefit you and your district? Learn more about our user-friendly platform, ENGAGE feedback.