Confronting Hesitations About Video Coaching in a School District
Diane Lauer oversees professional development for the St. Vrain Valley School District in Colorado.
While Diane and her team were excited about the promise of how video coaching could enhance teacher support, they were nervous about how everyone would react to the new video-powered process.
She quickly found the hesitations erased as teachers started using Edthena. The teachers quickly developed habits of a collaborative community and showed enthusiasm for sharing their practice.
Most people believe in the power of video coaching but worry about push-back during the adoption process. What was the process like for you?
Because we have run a face-to-face coaching program for so long, the shift to video coaching created some cognitive dissonance.
Would video coaching affect the relationships we build with our teachers? Would teachers balk at recording themselves teach and be upset with us? Would we as coaches spend less time with teachers?
Instead of negatively affecting our relationships with teachers, the adoption of video reflection strengthened our coaching work.
Our coaches have noticed that video coaching and reflection provides time for teachers to process and identify areas of success and growth. And so when they do connect with their coach face-to-face, teachers are more primed for deep conversations regarding their practice.
And what about developing the technical ability needed to use video?
There were definitely questions about our own tech-skillfulness and if we would be able to use the platform effectively. But the technical issues were much less problematic than we thought.
We did learn a few important things along the way, like checking the amount of memory in your device before recording! But generally, those with less skillfulness stepped up to the plate and partnered with others who could assist them until they got it.
The benefit of using the video evidence as a third point in coaching conversations far outweighs any tech-hurdle.
Can you share an example of the type of personalized coaching you’re able to undertake using Edthena?
This year we had one of our coach-coachee combos focus on transition time between when the bell rang and when students actually got to work.
They used video to capture evidence of student behavior, and then they used time stamping features in Edthena to measure it.
Together the coach and the teacher worked to decrease wasted learning time and solidify what engagement really looks like.
Were there any moments of surprise about how teachers were using Edthena this year?
Our professional learning coaches have noticed that teachers are viewing other teachers’ videos even before they are “told to do so.” And then they’re implementing changes almost immediately into their classroom practice.
In a recent learning cycle one of our coaches led on questioning strategies, one teacher commented that she was so impressed with the strategy she saw in her peer’s video that she incorporated his idea into her own recorded-video lesson for that learning cycle.
There’s a lot of talk in PD about the importance of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to increase teacher collaboration. How is Edthena helping you achieve this goal?
We know that even veteran teachers feel isolated and wish they had more time to see their colleagues’ classrooms. But our schedules make it hard to do that. And the district is also quite large — nearly 400 sq. miles.
We have found that our teachers love watching and annotating their peers’ videos.
By giving teachers a tool like Edthena to connect with each other and share what is happening in their space, this creates a real strong sense of community, which is important for an educator.
Reflecting on the experience this past year, how are you thinking about video coaching in the district going forward?
What we’ve found is that teachers appreciate watching both themselves and their peers in action. It helps generate ideas. It helps move abstract theory to concrete conceptualizations.
At the same time, incorporating video in professional development creates opportunities for “flipped” professional development, and increases the opportunity to differentiate and enrich learning.
Coaches and mentors have provided rich face-to-face feedback for years in our district.
Now with Edthena, the observation and feedback process has been accelerated, and teachers are developing a system to support their own growth through individual reflection and participation in communities of practice.