August 3, 2022

How video improved instructional coaching (opinion)

At Greenville Independent sschool Ddistrict, we adopted video for pedagogical coaching because we didn’t have enough coaches to visit all the classrooms where they were needed. During the first year of implementation, however, we found video observations to be a powerful tool not only for instructional coaching, but also for encouraging teacher self-reflection and improving school culture. Here’s how it worked for us.

From coach multiplier to self-reflector

We adopted ADVANCEfeedback as a video viewing platform due to a shortage of coaches. Using this video platform, our coaches were able to virtually visit classrooms on their own schedule or even observe separate lessons happening at the same time, without having to be physically in two places at once.

Using video helped us solve these logistical issues, but we also found that it improved teachers’ comfort with the observation and coaching process. Teachers could choose when they recorded a lesson, and they could also choose whether to submit it after it was finished. Many teachers shared them among themselves and coached each other before sending them to the administrative team.

It has also been useful in preparing teachers for Texas Teacher Rating and Support System, which requires a pre-conference and a post-conference as part of the assessment. Since our teachers use video to assess their own performance, they are most comfortable before their end-of-year evaluation.

Supporting teachers on the brink of greatness

The video also helped provide a missing piece in our overall approach to the professional development of our teachers. Prior to adopting our video-based model, we focused PD on customer service, improving school culture through Capturing the hearts of childrensmall group teaching and guided reading, and classroom management, because we have a lot of first grade teachers.

With the ability to use video in teacher coaching, we were able to focus on developing each teacher’s unique strengths. Sometimes a teacher is on the verge of becoming big and they just need a little help from a trainer to reach that next level. Likewise, the video allowed us to bring teachers who have similar challenges together for support and collaboration as they work to improve their practice.

It really allowed us to divide and conquer and, in turn, provide more focused support and development to our teachers.

Improved results and culture through transparency

The biggest benefit of using video for instructional coaching has been all the “aha moments” teachers have had. I’ve heard so many stories of relief from teachers who shared their challenges and fears about their practice via video, then brought colleagues into their classroom to help them improve.

What teachers are taught through the professional development process shows up in their practice and makes a difference in the classroom. Every step of the way, teachers have been excited to see improvements and eager to re-engage with the process because they can see it’s working.

More broadly, there is a positive cultural shift occurring as a result of transparency video providing teachers with each other’s classrooms. They know they are together because they share their challenges and successes and they can see that they all have the same kids, the same opportunities, the same minutes in a class, and the same lesson plans. As a result, they offer each other a little more grace and a lot more collaboration as they work to improve teaching and learning in our district.

The training of the future

As we head into our second year of using video to facilitate instructional coaching, we plan to expand the program in two ways. First, we plan to continue remote coaching. While video has helped us get the most out of the coaches we have, we still have a limited number of administrators and other instructional leaders who can provide coaching, so we’re looking to expand that. Second, we will be bringing our assistant directors into the program to receive their own coaching. In a bit of coaching, coaches will work to improve their feedback by ensuring it is specific, actionable, and corrective. They will also review the teachers they coached 24-48 hours later to confirm that their feedback was helpful.

Teachers already have so much to do that it’s very important not to ask them to do anything just to follow the moves. Video self-reflection, feedback and coaching have allowed us to demonstrate that we are on the right track. They know we’re not out to catch them with a “gotcha” moment. Instead, we put systems in place to help them and, in turn, their students grow.