Sunday, September 2, 2012

Video doesn't lie

As a former coach we used video as a tool to improve the talent of our players.  During my playing days in college we used video to evaluate our footwork and blocking schemes.  I remember these sessions were very important to my personal development as a football player.  Video evaluation was even more important to our team.  I am currently reading The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner.  Wagner makes his point that video could be the best way to improve teacher instruction.
"We never actually look at and talk about teaching together.  And if we want to improve instruction, the first thing we need to do is make the classroom walls transparent."
How often do we actually look at and talk about teaching together?  
"We have to videotape ourselves and one another - not just in the classrooms but in our coaching sessions with teachers and even in our meetings."
Think about the great feedback we could give teachers if we videotaped lessons and critiqued the lesson together between the principal and teacher or between teacher and a group of peers.  It is no different than what athletic coaches do with their players.  This type of development is risky for people, it is hard to speak the truth and video does not lie.  Richard Elmore said it best, "education is the 'Land of Nice."
"To really take a critical look at what's going on in classrooms would be to violate the unspoken contract, whereby teacher and principal autonomy remains the preeminent value of the profession."
Coaching and school leadership are very similar.  They should be developing talent and encouraging continuous improvement. Video could be a powerful development tool.  However, it is something that could be very scary for teachers.  I don't see it as something that would go into an evaluation.  To me using video is a means of sparking great conversations about instruction between teachers and administration.  

What are your thoughts on using video to improve instruction?


  1. Mike,

    I have used video in the past when I served as a high school/middle school principal. It is very powerful in working collaboratively with a teacher, but I found that many teachers are so afraid to do it it. This fear becomes the most significant barrier to successfully integrating video into practice.

    Two questions:

    1) What have your experiences been with this and what strategies have you used to overcome it?

    2) Do you think analyzing videos with peers in a PLC would make staff more or less reticent to try it?

  2. 1) It is something that I would have gotten to in my previous school. I think it would be important to build the trust and develop that transparent atmosphere within the school. I would not use it for evaluation purposes more so as coaching sessions.

    2) I think it would be less intrusive if you used your PLC groups to review the videos. It would be important to make sure staff new what good instruction looks like. Also, it would be important for them to critique the video. Maybe do it in combination with the principals?

    The number one thing I would want to establish is that it is not a gotchya session. So trust is very important!

    1. Maybe start small and have them all do it once a year.