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.
The Yakima School District embarked on an adventure in August of the 2015-2016 school year. We began a cohort of teachers who wanted to learn how to use video to improve their instruction of English Language Learners. Like most adventures in education, this looked like a relatively straight road. We soon found out that it was filled with crazy bends, steep climbs, rapid descents, and radical hairpin turns.
How do you get a three year old to obey? By making it her idea! My very opinionated, passionate, threenager is extremely strong willed. As our family was sharing our one word goals with each other, imagine my surprise when she selected the word “obey.” This has become a magic word that I pray never rubs off! Instead of the usual “Mom, why are you being mean to me?” when I correct her, her response has changed dramatically. All I have to say is, “What word are you working on?” and she says “Oh, yes! That’s right! Obey!” I will admit her response is certainly not absent of some sass and sighs, but nonetheless I am wowed by this vast improvement. The innovative idea that one word changes your life is tremendously successful because of it’s simplistic complexity. New Year’s resolutions are not new, and words have always inspired us, but this new way of thinking about a resolution has simplified and enhanced the power of the goal.
I am wary of high stakes, anxiety-producing, number-heavy, hoop-jumping evaluation systems.
Imagine my delight and surprise to learn that as a new principal in Bellingham, I could use a collaborative, online video platform for all teacher evaluations. The platform would be private, efficient, and teacher-driven; both parties would be able to view, code, and upload videos. I jumped at the opportunity to use Teaching Channel Teams in lieu of scripting into a state-sponsored platform.
I had a chance to attend a panel discussion on Capitol Hill hosted by NCTAF and Learning Forward. Panelists shared examples of “teacher agency” in professional learning and connected models to the recent Learning Forward and NCTAF whitepaper, “Moving from Compliance to Agency: What Teachers Need to Make Professional Learning Work.” Teacher-led professional learning resonated with me, as a former educator, and many others in the room. It also reminded me of how important it is to provide options and tools for professional learning — in Tch’s case, learning around video.
In this same vein, Tch Video Lounge is our attempt at providing choice in looking at video with a reflection lens. Research supports this form of learning, and it can really impact one’s practice — ask me how often I’ve been told I speak quickly — video changed that. That said, we’re in the process of developing an e-book of protocols for looking at video and wanted to share one for you to try out using the “Notes” feature in our video player.