Utilizing Video as a Professional Learning Tool (Instructional Coaching Corner)

Greg Deutmeyer, an instructional coach at Epworth Elementary School in Epworth, Iowa, and Jenny Hillebrand, instructional coach at Dyersville Elementary in Dyersville, Iowa, recently interviewed Adam Geller, Edthena founder & CEO, about his book “Evidence of Practice: Playbook for Video-Powered Professional Learning.” They are the hosts of the Instructional Coaching Corner podcast.

You can listen to the full interview above, and we’ve shared some of the highlights below.

Greg: Adam, could you talk a little bit about the benefits of using video as a tool for individual teachers as well as those benefits within a group or a team of teachers?

I think one of the biggest advantages that video offers an individual teacher or a group of teachers is the ability to step outside the moment of instruction and reflect on the actual evidence of teaching.

You’re not relying on an anecdote or a story about what happened in the classroom, whether that’s told by the colleague or the instructional coach to the teacher who was teaching, or from the teacher’s perspective who was delivering the lesson.

Instead, you can really use that video as the impartial observer. It is a deliverer of the facts. Then you can have a conversation about what you see and what the implications are of what you see.

Like I say to a lot of people when I’m encouraging the use of video; it gives you your current reality.

I’ve heard some folks even call it a mirror. That video record of what happened in the classroom can be the mirror for the educator or team of educators who want to understand what actually was happening inside the classroom.

Jenny: How do the skills for analyzing video evidence as a coach differ from person to person coaching?

I think there is often an assumption that having experience with in-person observation automatically qualifies someone and readies someone to engage with video evidence in a meaningful and productive way. The reality is that while there are certainly similarities, my view is that it requires a different set of skills.

In our book, Evidence of Practice, we talk about what we call the five focusing techniques, which are a synthesis of a lot of research done by academics. Those five focusing techniques are spot, breakdown, interpret, compare, and discuss. Those are ordered in increasing complexity.

As a specific way of engaging with video evidence, spot refers to asking a teacher to review a video and spot the moments where not responding to student misbehavior or anything else concrete that you’re working on. That specific style of engagement with video is itself important; Both to know that it exists but also valuable to actually execute on in the professional learning process.

Jenny: Can you kind of go into a little bit more detail on what’s the best way to capture video?

The reality is that a classroom is a busy place, and as a teacher who’s thinking either, wow this is going right, I want to capture it, or man, this isn’t going so right, I wish I could get somebody to see it, you need to have a strategy and a perspective that allows video to be a kind of low lift and any time style activity.

So from my perspective, the right device is the one that you already have in your classroom.

Your laptops, your Chromebooks, your document cameras, even if you have an old Flip camera sitting in the closet, those are exactly the right tools to be using. And we all have high definition cameras in our pockets, so we should feel comfortable using those, too.

How long should their recorded videos be?

I think my middle of the road answer here is aim for 12 minutes… or less!

It’s not to say a 20-minute video isn’t sometimes helpful, but if you’re aiming for 12 minutes, you’re also thinking strategically as the teacher about what to capture.

Greg: I am a video guy. I enjoy recording, cutting, editing, creating video. And if there’s one thing I know, it is that video is big and bulky and can often take a considerable amount of time to move.

Can you provide some detail for how Edthena can break that barrier of some of the difficulties of the size of video?

The average teacher is not like you. The average teacher does not want to spend two hours editing their classroom video. As a result, we’ve developed a variety of different tools.

One that we think is very powerful is for Chromebooks. You can open up your Chromebook, and then you click one button to record directly inside of Google Chrome in the Edthena platform. You can also do this inside the Chrome browser on other devices, without anything to install. No special permissions, no plugins, nothing. It just works.

Check out the full interview on the Instructional Coaching Podcast!

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