“Video Elevates This Work”: How TeachDETROIT Prepares Teachers For Urban Classrooms

Detroit is a city with a long history of innovation.

Detroit where Henry Ford invented the Model T. It’s the birthplace of Motown and techno.  And William Potts, a Detroit police officer, invented the yellow light in traffic lights to help you avoid a crash.

The spirit of innovation continues with TeachDETROIT, an organization working to bring more educators into Detroit elementary classrooms.

TeachDETROIT is re-inventing the teacher training experience through a 15-month residency program that includes the convenience of taking university classes in the Detroit schools while teaching and learning alongside mentor teachers and others in the cohort.

Jennifer Lewis is the founder and director of TeachDETROIT. We connected with her to learn why she considers video not only critical to the work teachers are doing in her program, but to elevating the profession of teaching as a whole.

Why do you think that video coaching and reflection is important for the teachers you work with?

I have used video with teachers for 15 years. I can’t imagine working without it.

Video reflection is baked into everything we do. It allows us to use evidence to make claims about teaching andlearning, and keeps us anchored in the specifics of practice.

I also believe that video elevates this work, makes it clear that this is important, worth paying attention to. Especially when working with underprivileged children, we need to convey that this work is worthy of everyone’s time and attention.

The notion of collecting records of teaching – to revisit, study, and track over time – underscores that this is complex, challenging work.

Can you explain what your process for using video with your teachers looks like?

Our interns first try out Edthena by sending their classmates a video introduction of themselves, and from there they tape all their work with children.

Their fellow teacher interns, cooperating teachers, supervisors, and program directors comment on their videos but first they watch their videos and reflect on them.

So far as content, teachers begin completing highly-supported 10 minute lessons, and gradually add evidence of mastery in subject matter areas. They also slowly increase the length and complexity of their lessons as they progress through the program.

Why did you choose to partner with Edthena?

We’d used other video coaching platforms with our interns before, but they were cumbersome and presented huge hurdles. Our interns spent more time fretting over technical hassles than they did thinking about their teaching. It caused a lot of frustration, anxiety, and wasted time and focus.

I was intrigued by Edthena because I wanted the focus of my teachers’ development to be on reflection about teaching, careful observation of children, consideration of standards and theory in relation to practice— not about taking five hours to upload a video clip.

Learn more about TeachDETROIT from this video they produced:

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