“Teaching experience is positively associated with student achievement gains throughout a teacher’s career.” These findings from a recent Learning Policy Institute study make it apparent just how important it is to have experienced teachers in our schools. But in the face of a teacher retention crisis, the pool of experienced teachers is dwindling. We know one of the reasons why this may be, as lack of support has been consistently cited as one of the most common causes for a teacher to leave the professions. “Teachers’ effectiveness increases at a greater rate when they teach in a supportive and collegial working environment” (The Learning Policy Institute).
How can we expedite teacher experience while forming a more supportive environment for teachers? At Swivl we’ve created the perfect formula and accompanying tools to solve this pressing issue. We’ve seen first hand that when educators are able to embrace these five steps into their schools, the results are profound and impactful.
Step 1: Record
To become a better teacher, faster, you first need a full and accurate assessment of your teaching abilities. With video observations you are able to gain a holistic view of a teacher’s capabilities, which is not always possible via in-person assessments. These recordings are the catalyst to promote self-reflection by the teacher, and to ignite conversations among mentors, peers, and coaches. The Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University has been studying the use of video observations in schools and their results have been overwhelmingly positive.
Step 2: Reflect
Recording one’s self for the first time can be intimidating, and sharing your teaching with others can be nerve-wracking. The best way to get past this is simply to watch yourself first and then decide what you feel comfortable sharing. There are a number of great resources listed at the end of this blog to guide you through the self-reflection process.
Step 3: Share
Self-reflection is powerful but only to the extent that you are willing to make strategic and meaningful change to your instruction. Sharing with others and accepting constructive feedback is essential to evolving. Not only does sharing one’s recording enable feedback to be received without any time or location constraints, but it allows for the creation of best practice libraries. We have seen that when teachers create their own shared libraries, the content is far superior compared to third-party libraries, leading to more frequent use and overall effectiveness. Teachers are able to use these libraries to expedite their own experience via direct video observation of the entire classroom.
Step 4: Support
Support from colleagues, coaches, peers and mentors is an essential aspect to teaching. “Administrative support is the factor most consistently associated with teachers’ decisions to stay in or leave a school,” (Learning Policy Institute). How can administrations provide a higher level of support? The key is to provide continuous meaningful feedback and promote open collaboration that is neither obtrusive nor time-consuming to the administrator or the teacher. After working with thousands of schools, we know that they key to a program’s success lies with a dedicated administration leader who has the vision and drive to achieve this culture of support.
Step 5: Repeat
To keep improving, these steps must be repeated. We’ve seen that with continued repetition a success loop of transformational teaching is formed. With Swivl Cloud, teachers are uniquely able to create a community of continuous professional development and growth which fosters a culture of support that can flourish in schools. When teachers are lifelong learners their successes translate into positive student outcomes. Swivl helps them expedite their growth together.
Want to learn more? Check out these great resources:
- What is Swivl?
- Does Teaching Experience Increase Teacher Effectiveness? A Review of the Research by Tara Kini and Anne Podolsky, Learning Policy Institute
- A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S. By Leib Sutcher, Linda Darling-Hammond and Desiree Carver-Thomas, Learning Policy Institute
- Best Foot Forward Project, Center for Education Policy Research, Harvard University
- Best Foot Forward: Video Observation Toolkit, Center for Education Policy Research, Harvard University
- Pause and Reflect: New video tools to enhance teachers’ power of self-reflection by Leah Shafer, October 22, 2015, Usable Knowledge, Harvard Graduate School of Education
- 7 Reflection Tips for Assessment, Empowerment, and Self-Awareness by University Park Campus School, May 10, 2016, Edutopia.
- Cultivating Trust in Video Observations, Center for Education Policy Research, Harvard University
- How to Get Better: what will it take for teacher evaluations to become a meaningful tool for professional growth? By Jessica Lander, May 9, 2016, Usable Knowledge, Harvard Graduate School of Education
- How Teacher Partnerships Work: new evidence of the tangible benefits of peer-to-peer, school-based skill building by Bari Walsh, April 6, 2016, Usable Knowledge, Harvard Graduate School of Education