Incorporating Video and Peer Observations Supports Continued Growth of Highly Effective Teachers
To support the continued professional growth of your highly effective teachers, we have previously shared two suggestions: Communities of Practice and Action Research. In a continuing series on supporting highly effective teachers, we share a few more suggestions for helping your highly effective teachers grow in their chosen profession.
Video sharing is growing in popularity, as teachers can now easily record themselves on a phone, iPad, or even Zoom and share the videos with colleagues for feedback. Videos also offer a unique opportunity for self-reflection. Teachers get to decide which videos they would like to share and which teaching strategies they want feedback on. Once a video is uploaded to a secure platform, the teacher shares the link with others who watch the video and leave feedback. This simple process has a low learning curve, as teachers are using devices they already know. Platforms such as YouTube and Google can be made secure and offer built-in opportunities for feedback. A new tool, GoReact, is getting a lot of positive attention for video sharing as well.
A previous blog on incorporating video observations provides suggestions for implementation of a video observation strategy.
A similar idea is video clubs, which are made up of teachers who teach the same content or grade level. Similar to video sharing, teachers record themselves teaching and choose which videos to share. Then the club watches and discusses videos from each teacher’s practice. An advantage to the club idea over video sharing is that the teacher knows that the group members have a similar background. It is also a two-way street in that a teacher can receive feedback about their own teaching and provide feedback to others. The club combines aspects of video sharing and peer observation, which we’ll get to next.
For richer conversation, video clubs can reach outside the teacher’s school district, offering a broader range of feedback. The members act like a club, getting to know one another on a personal level, meeting regularly, and sometimes meeting virtually or face-to-face to offer feedback. Video clubs create a professional learning community that offers a snapshot into each teacher’s practices and opportunities to discuss issues in teaching and learning.
A tried-and-true practice that benefits highly effective teachers is peer observation. (Read: How Peer Observation Can Help Your School.) In fact, research indicates that benefits are obtained by both teachers involved in a peer observation, with the observer sometimes gaining the most. Giving highly effective teachers time to visit classrooms within and outside of their own school districts helps teachers learn about best practices.
To begin a peer observation, teachers identify a new skill or strategy they would like to learn, and then through word-of-mouth or with their principal’s help, connect with another teacher who is incorporating it well. Teachers can arrange their own peer observations, setting up contacts with teachers they want to observe, and lining up a substitute if needed. They could also utilize a video observation protocol, if time and resources are strained. Teachers then observe a classroom with the idea of improving their own instruction, not to offer feedback to the other teacher. Keeping the observation non-evaluative allows the teacher to focus on personal goal-setting and reflection.
NEE is currently in the process of developing a peer observation component to help with feedback, reflection, and scheduling of peer observations. To learn more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allowing our highly effective teachers to target their own professional development will pay dividends in the classroom. Supporting highly effective teachers creates a culture of learning and growth widely desired by the profession.
Dr. Terri Steffes is a trainer and field support representative for the Network for Educator Effectiveness and an educational consultant for the Heart of Missouri Regional Professional Development Center. She is a retired Missouri school principal and teacher.
The Network for Educator Effectiveness (NEE) is a simple yet powerful comprehensive system for educator evaluation that helps educators grow, students learn, and schools improve. Developed by preK-12 practitioners and experts at the University of Missouri, NEE brings together classroom observation, student feedback, teacher curriculum planning, and professional development as measures of effectiveness in a secure online portal designed to promote educator growth and development.