I felt the blood rushing to my face. I was standing in front of a group of teachers presenting on a topic I was very familiar with and all of the sudden, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I was saying. The teachers were very gracious, but I was cringing. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have the strategies to make my next move. I sure could’ve used some coaching in that moment.
I often have the opportunity to work with teachers as a professional learning provider or coach around the implementation and assessment of the three-dimensional learning expected from the Next Generation Science Standards. In this work, I’m expected to be the “expert” and the collaborator, but sometimes I need coaching too.
Do you ever wonder how you get yourself into some things?
That’s exactly what I was thinking when I stepped in front of 21 kindergartners to teach a lesson I developed with the video camera rolling. I planned on challenging myself and embracing my year of growth mindset and learning from taking risks. I was both excited and terrified by the opportunity to bring my love of STEM to the small scientists.
Did I mention that I have NEVER taught kindergarten before?
Teaching English Language Learners (ELLs) is important, rewarding, and often challenging work. In fact, teaching in general is all three of those things as well! So, while it’s true that teaching practices that are great for ELLs are great for all students, many educators and districts with growing numbers of ELLs are focusing their professional learning and resource creation on supporting ELLs. In that spirit, Teaching Channel is bringing you new a set of interactive videos in Tch Video Lounge, developed in partnership with Oakland Unified School District, so that you and your colleagues can hone in on key shifts, practices, and strategies for teaching and learning with ELLs.
The footage for these new videos comes from a series we produced with Oakland last year, Content Conversations: Strategies for ELLs. In that series, we visited the classrooms of elementary and high school teachers taking on the challenge of integrating language instruction for their ELLs during content instruction. There was so much to learn from these educators and so much amazing footage that was left on the cutting room floor! Now, you get to see and discuss some of that unedited footage in these eight new interactive videos. Here are the topics we can explore together.
Did I just say that… and do I really sound like that?
I’ve always been told I look and sound exactly like my younger sister, just with darker hair. I’m still not convinced we look alike, but after listening to my most recent presentation, it easily could’ve been my sister speaking. Scary!
Even more frightening is the wording I chose and the stammering that occurred throughout my delivery of the professional learning.
Those poor teachers.
Without the close vetting of this “unwanted” video, I’d never have realized how much I needed to improve. Sometimes “looking in the mirror” can hurt.
To be 100% truthful, I’m considered the “face” of our school district and I conduct numerous interviews that are then streamed on our local cable channel and on our district YouTube channel. How many of those interviews have I watched to see how I can improve on the next, you ask? ZERO!
It’s time to change my paradigm and realize that video self-reflection can be one of the most valuable tools we have as educators. Here’s my most recent glimpse of my reflection.
A few weeks ago, I made a stop at a local butcher’s shop and left with a cooler full of cow muscle, tendons, fat, and a kidney just for fun. I was prepping for a tissue engineering unit where students would research authentic tissues before tackling our big question: Can low-cost, synthetic tissues be engineered for use in under-resourced medical schools and research labs? This unit was based on the Tissue Engineering guide from Allen Distinguished Educators DIY Guides.
One of my goals is to increase peer observations and encourage a school culture where teachers open up their practice to others. This can be challenging, as teachers most often have to give up their own time with students to make these observations happen. So I fired up my Swivl, and decided to step out of my comfort zone to demonstrate another way to share our practice when time is short — through video! As part of my work with the Tch Next Gen Science Squad, I decided to focus on the implementation of engineering as described in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
I’ve long been curious about what’s underneath. The back story of the author, the inspiration for the music, the influences that created the athlete. It’s not just the history or the origin story I’m interested in, it’s the story wrapped inside the story that grabs my attention and makes me want to keep uncovering. And I know I’m not the only one because so many of you reach out to me, stop me at a conference, or after a workshop, and ask for all the details. Did you really mess up that lesson or did you plan to? How do you grade all of that writing? Did your students only do that stuff for the camera? How do you come up with your ideas? What happens next?
For as long as I’ve been making videos with Teaching Channel, I’ve had this idea that there should be a version where I get to pull back the curtain and tell the story behind the story. Even though our medium is video and everything seems visible, it’s not. There’s so much invisible work in teaching: the ideation, the planning, the “fake left and go right,” the careful attention and revision. With this in mind, we’re launching our new series, Tcher’s Cut, to give you an insider’s look at all that invisible work, to help answer the questions you’re prompted to ask.
A teacher can learn a lot by taking a close read of the classroom.
However, the pace of a typical school day doesn’t allow for much time to step back and take it all in. That’s why video is a great tool to help teachers understand what’s really happening in the classroom as students engage in learning activities.
In the videos I collected of students, I began to notice there was a pattern to their conversations. Based upon the task at hand, my role was to be a facilitator. As teachers embark into NGSS territory, it will become more obvious that students are highly engaged in their tasks. They’re excited and need help making sense of their thinking.
Editor’s Note: Summer is a time for relaxing, rejuvenating, and inspiring you to try something new in the coming year. We hope our Teams podcasts do just that.
Planning and facilitating professional development is a humbling experience, especially if you invite and listen to feedback. So when teachers say that professional development is disconnected from the reality of the classroom, you have to listen. And let’s face it, professional development is just plain challenging for all those involved.
This year, when our high school math PLC was mid-year and knee-deep in curriculum alignment, the teachers I coach shared with me that their alignment PD, although good work, felt disconnected from what was really happening in the classroom instructionally. They wanted to focus on how to teach the new curriculum, not just how to design benchmarks. Challenge #1. Unfortunately, because the district was extremely short on subs this year, a traditional studio model, our district’s PD strand for studying instruction, was not an option for PD around instruction. Challenge #2.
Summer. A time to breathe a little more deeply. A time to let your shoulders relax. A time to wear your jammies til noon! And often, a time to do some professional learning. Why not wear your jammies and do a little learning at the same time? This summer you can do just that in Tch Video Lounge.
This year, Teaching Channel opened the doors to Tch Video Lounge, a place where you can watch, learn, and talk about Teaching Channel content together with colleagues from around the world. These lounge videos are layered with prompts to focus your thinking so that you not only learn from watching the video, you also learn by sharing your noticings, reflections, and wonders with other educators. And best of all, you can jump into the conversation at any time, from anywhere.
I’ve had the chance to experience a lot of professional development as a teacher and this past year, we decided to do something new. Working out of our Teacher Center, I was able to ignite interest in using video to showcase new practices, capture implementation in action, and foster collaborative learning through video feedback and reflection. That said, this was a very thoughtful, inclusive, and informed implementation so that we had teachers with school-based mentors and support in using #anewkindofpd.
To hear all about our implementation plan — from our purpose for going this route, the process of setting it up, and the community building elements — listen to this podcast. Our District Assistant Superintendent Rose Ricca and myself talk about our grassroots implementation that resulted in impactful learning and growth for our teachers and students.