Use video to save time and inspire improvement.

At the beginning of the pilot, the teachers agreed to capture themselves on video at least three times, and share the recordings with their partner using ADVANCEfeedback from Insight ADVANCE. There was plenty of flexibility, with a couple teachers recording full hour-long lessons and others recording snippets of a focused practice.

The teachers loved it. They really liked being able to watch their partner teach without going into each other’s classrooms. Since we’re a relatively small district, I can arrange cross-classroom visitations for new teachers once or twice a year, but I really don’t have the staff or the resources to do visitations on a large scale.

I found that the teachers who recorded themselves were much more deliberate about what they were teaching and what they were sharing—and they were informally doing their own self-reflection and changing their practice even before they hit “share.” This means that when I am able to visit, formally or informally, I see better teaching and learning because of the collaboration and feedback that has happened before I was even in the room.

Expand organically.

3 tips to help inspire self-reflection in teachers

There’s so much excitement among the initial pilot group that they’re already inviting their peers to participate. For instance, the second-grade teacher in the pilot is the only second-grade teacher in her building, so she wants to collaborate cross-building. There are eight second-grade teachers spread across five buildings in our district, and three buildings have only one second-grade teacher. There’s a real need to have grade-level collaboration across the district for these more isolated teachers.

I plan to use video to observe and provide feedback to my teachers more regularly. It lets me watch, rewind, and pause, which is something that you really can’t do while sitting in the classroom during a live observation. I would assume there’s a lot that I miss: not just bad stuff, but probably a ton of good things, too. I would love the opportunity to be able to slow that process down a bit so teachers can show me their best, or be able to show me something new they’re trying.

We’re starting a second cycle of the pilot for the spring semester. We’ll refine the program based on what the initial group has experienced, and next year we hope to expand it even further, with more educators participating. Given the enthusiasm from my teachers, and the need for district-wide collaboration, I believe the program has enormous potential.

About the Author:

Anthony Fitzpatrick is the supervisor of instruction at Haddon Township School District in New Jersey. Follow him on Twitter: @antfitz.