Creating ‘Hyper-Accelerated, Self-initiated Cycles of Professional Learning’ using Video Observation in a School District

“We really feel like we are living in an era of exponential change. Many districts across the nation, I’m certain, are feeling the teacher shortage. And so it’s critical that the teachers we do hire, we keep and we retain. And while maybe five ten years ago, we felt like we could take time to really groom our new teachers, now we want our new teachers to feel successful right away. We really want to instill those mindsets and skillsets of master teachers early on so that they are on par with their veteran colleagues in a much more accelerated way.”

These are the words of Diane Lauer, Assistant Superintendent of St. Vrain Valley Schools in Colorado. Diane, along with her colleagues David Baker and Rychie Rhodes, were invited presenters to a national webinar hosted earlier this spring by multi-year working group Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (NTEP), which is a part of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

During the presentation, Diane, Rychie, and David detailed different examples of how they use video observation with teachers and coaches in their district. They also described the impact video has had in accelerating teachers’ professional development across grade and experience levels.

Accelerating teacher-driven professional learning cycles

“Video has allowed us to become self-directed in our district,” Diane said. “To really think deeply about practice. Whether you’re a brand new teacher fresh out of college…or whether you’re an experienced teacher just wanting to refine your practice, we’re all taking the time to reflect on practice. To help each other grow. And to improve as professionals meeting the needs of our students.”

One way that video has helped St. Vrain improve as professionals is in tightening cycles of feedback.

“Before video we used to go into our weekly coaching classrooms and we would sit there and take notes and we would then have our reflecting conversations,” Rychie said. “But a lot of it was pulled from our memory so it was very subjective, because we didn’t have the ability to really see what was going on.”

“Now we pair mentor teachers with novice teachers, and video allows those novice teachers to receive feedback and have coaching conversations about their practice without having to necessarily meet face-to-face,” she said.

Another way in which video has improved coaching processes in the district is that it allows teachers to see their peers in action without pulling them away from their classrooms.

“We believe in keeping teachers in the classroom,” David said. “Having video allows all our teachers to observe teacher practice all across the district. If we have a teacher in one elementary building that really is an exemplar teacher with small reading groups, we are able to share that video in Edthena with teachers across district. Teachers reflect and share their practice. That right there helps us grow a common language, a common vision of what the best practice is throughout the district.”

You can watch St. Vrain’s presentation by clicking the link above. You can also read our Partner Profile of St. Vrain here.

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