Unlocking Teacher Potential: 5 Secrets to Effective Professional Growth

Five Secrets for Accelerating the Professional Growth of Teachers with a cartoon teacher at the blackboard, a Keller ISD logo and an Edthena logo.

Instructional coaching has been a key component powering the professional growth of teachers for many years. However, the challenge has always been a numbers game, how can districts provide enough coaching when instructional coaching resources are limited?

The Coordinator of Professional Learning and Leadership for Keller ISD, Valerie Minor, shared her secrets for tackling this challenge at the Learning Forward Texas conference.

Learn how, as a team of one, she effectively scaled professional learning support for more than 3,500 teachers using video coaching.

Click below to watch the presentation or continue reading for key takeaways.

Table of contents

Efficiently supporting the professional growth of teachers

Valerie is solely responsible for supporting more than 3500 teachers.

“Keeping a pulse on all 3500 teachers with daily classroom visits is not a realistic strategy,” she said.

To effectively support her teachers’ professional growth, she had to get creative. She turned to Edthena’s Video Coaching platform and her results were impressive for new and veteran teachers.

“I saw it on both sides,” Valerie said. “[Video Coaching] was super impactful on our teaching.”

She described the transformation of one teacher who has used video coaching to become, “One of the most collaborative, reflective educators I’ve ever met…I have never seen a transformation like this. It came from really reflecting and watching herself in action.”

But it wasn’t just Valerie noticing the impact. When she surveyed them, they said the most impactful activity they did the entire year was self-observation via video.

The statistics back up her observations as well. In the second year, she more than doubled the amount of minutes of recorded video and the number of total videos recorded.

How did she deploy accelerate the professional growth of teachers so successfully? Let’s look at the secrets to her success below.

Five secrets to accelerating the professional growth of teachers

Secret 1: Provide time and training for professional growth

Valerie dedicated time to allowing teachers to play with the tool, become more familiar with it, and ask any questions they might have. By doing so, the teachers became more comfortable with the tool and the process of making and reflecting-on videos. According to Valerie, taking a little time at the beginning of the year to introduce the platform led to increased engagement from the teaching staff.

She also found that low-stakes videos like classroom tours were a great way to get teachers comfortable recording a video. They can also help build camaraderie in the school’s PLCs, as teachers can see classrooms they might not otherwise see.

Secret 2: Start early in the school year and build relationships in person

Another key element of the program was getting teachers started early in the year and using their relationship-building time as a springboard to continue collaborating using Edthena.

She gathered the cohorts early in September and helped them build relationships and trust with each other. That way teachers were more comfortable receiving virtual feedback from colleagues throughout the year when in-person time was more limited.

Secret 3: Offer to partner with teachers on the first video

To help accelerate the professional growth of teachers, Valerie found that sometimes it was helpful to offer to record a video for a teacher. That made it feel like they were partnering on the project and it helped alleviate the pressure of feeling like the teacher had to record a Hollywood-style video.

“It takes away the fear that it has to be this professional-level video. It doesn’t have to be this big fancy production. This is real life.” Valerie said.

Secret 4: Model actions that lead to professional growth for teachers

Once the video was recorded, Valerie found it useful to sit with the teacher, in person or via video conference, to watch the video together.

Watching it together allowed her to talk through the video and talk about what they saw. It also allowed her to model the questions she wanted her teachers to ask themselves when they were watching on their own.

She asked questions like, “What is it that we want to focus on? What are we looking for?”

This exercise helped power self-driven professional growth for teachers. By learning to self-reflect and analyze their videos, they could help themselves improve even when Valerie wasn’t in the room.

Secret 5: Provide multiple options for professional growth

One of Valerie’s main challenges as the Coordinator of Professional Learning and Leadership is that she has a lot of responsibility but no direct authority to tell teachers what to do. So getting teachers to buy into this effort was critical.

She deployed different methods for the first-year teacher and master-teacher cohorts. Both methods involved providing some autonomy over their activities.

In the first-year teacher cohort, Valerie found that giving the teachers a choice of their focus area was an efficient way to engage them.

She built a choice board and teachers could choose different activities in exchange for rewards (including two hours of extra pay). For example, they could record a classroom tour video or watch a curated video via Video Library  and reflect on it for points.

She also let them choose how to share their video and who to share it with. They could share the video with Valerie (and only Valerie) or other teachers, the choice was theirs.

In the master teacher cohort, Valerie selected teachers from all grade levels and content areas. She paired them up and asked them to choose a problem of practice on which they’d focus for the year.

She then had them video a lesson embedded in that problem of practice. Cohorts reviewed the videos and teachers also reviewed themselves.

At first, the master teachers were hesitant to record their videos but at the end of the year, they said watching themselves on video was the most impactful activity they engaged in.

Driving teacher professional growth through self-reflection

Accelerating the professional growth of teachers can feel daunting especially with more than 3500 teachers to support. By deploying resources like video coaching, Valerie has effectively scaled professional learning in the district and built a culture that thrives on self-reflection.

If you’d like to learn more about solutions that can help drive the professional growth of teachers in your school or district, contact us today!

Get new posts via email

No spam. Ever. We promise.