Pick any high-priority instructional initiative in your district. Can you think of at least one teacher who is excelling in that priority area?
Maybe it’s an early-elementary teacher facilitating small group math learning. Or, maybe it’s a high-school science teacher appropriately deploying sheltered-instruction techniques into a lesson rich with academic language.
Now ask yourself… how can every other teacher get a chance to see that teacher’s classroom?
Unless you have unlimited substitutes for release time, I’d suggest using technology to solve this problem.
Try setting up a district-wide video library.
Video libraries are a valuable resource for teachers and instructional leaders to see concrete examples of excellent practice, as defined by your district. And libraries of teaching videos support high-quality and personalized professional learning in a number of ways, too.
Teaching video libraries tap districts’ existing expertise
Video libraries highlight the exemplary teaching practices already happening within your district. District video libraries of teaching aren’t just a collection of generic, canned videos – they are created by your educators, for your educators.
The videos within the library can highlight any effective teaching strategy. This could be a lead teacher demonstrating a new math strategy or a new teacher using strong academic language during a reading lesson–you name it.
Regardless of the given topic, the videos provide other teachers with an authentic way to see effective strategies happening within the district and discover colleagues who can be a resource.
For example, when Hartford Public Schools was first building out its video library, instructional coaches helped to identify more than 60 classrooms in the district where high-quality teaching practices were taking place day-in and day-out. The teachers from these “lab classrooms” then recorded and shared videos of their instruction within the library for other teachers to see the best practices in action.
In addition to being used as a learning resource, video libraries also provide a great way for districts to celebrate the teachers who submit videos. Having their skills on display for others in the district to see is a great accolade and acknowledgment of teachers’ successes in the classroom.
District video libraries help develop teachers’ professional vision
A shared vision of high-quality teaching is important for every district as it provides the framework for ongoing professional development and coaching. Video examples reinforce this vision and help teachers understand what high-quality teaching looks like from a very practical standpoint.
Having a vetted collection of videos also helps ensure teachers are always referencing teaching practices that the district deems as “good teaching” – there’s no second guessing on the part of the teacher.
The videos can additionally serve as concrete examples during coaching sessions and professional learning communities. This enables coaches to show teachers examples of effective strategy in practice instead of just trying to explain it. For example, you can capture videos of teachers successfully implementing new curriculum, for others to emulate.
As a group, educators can review and discuss what they are seeing in the videos, and offer additional tips for how those same strategies can be implemented with fidelity in the classroom. This encourages ongoing discussion regarding professional learning, supports a common language of effective teaching, and helps align educators in reaching their goals.
Teaching video libraries provide teachers with on-demand support
People love watching how-to videos on YouTube because they get the information they need when they need it. Video libraries provide a similar—and powerful—experience when it comes to professional learning.
Instead of scouring the internet for resources, teachers can simply search the district video library of teaching for videos that meet their needs. This can include grade-, subject-, strategy-, or standards-specific videos focused on areas they are looking to improve.
Online video libraries can also be accessed from anywhere. This enables professional learning to happen wherever and whenever it is convenient for teachers, who often don’t have time to observe other classrooms or the ability to visit other schools within the district.
Teaching video libraries are a sustainable investment
A video library of teaching examples is easy to start and gets easier to sustain over time. There is no need to have thousands of videos to launch your library. Even a small collection of videos can be helpful.
For example, maybe start by collecting videos of one particular grade-level or strategic priority area. Do you run a Teacher of the Year recognition program? Those teachers could be great candidates to contribute videos, too.
And, you can keep building your library over time as more moments of excellence are uncovered in classrooms across your district.
Once videos are added to your teaching video library, teachers can access those videos for years to come. Good teaching is good teaching, regardless of when it took place.
With the ongoing need for effective and accessible professional learning opportunities, video libraries can support many educators both easily and quickly.
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