For a majority of educators, a realization started to sink in towards the end of March: frustration and panic were going to be barriers to real professional learning at this time. Coaches were faced with a faculty skeptical of spending so much time learning to use tools that, from their view, they may never need again. So teachers fell to relying on digital resources and hubs of webinars, their own school’s technology and coaching structure suddenly overwhelmed with the amount of support they were required to provide. A meme on Twitter in April expressed the sentiments of coaches well, claiming that they spend all year trying to get teachers to work with them and now suddenly their inboxes are overflowing with requests for help.
While it may have been appropriate to cater to immediate needs for awhile, a coach’s job right now is to be a lantern in the darkness. This means refocusing teachers on the continual, deep improvement of their craft. Now is the time to move away from acting as emergency tech support, and get back to real coaching. To truly move forward, teachers need practice, review, and implementation - not just a how-two guide or a quick video to get up to speed on Google Docs. In fact, at Swivl, we are even building a platform for that very purpose, called skilled.space, which allows teachers to request on-demand help with using common technology tools. Administrators need to realize that a coach’s value is in their ability to go deeper than surface-level troubleshooting; instead, they support teachers in their own continual progress as educators.
Vast changes are coming to the classroom, and with them come shifts in the expectations of coaching and administration. Resources show that without strong leadership and fair instructional goals, teachers struggle with a sense of purpose and overall feeling of success. And how can anyone feel successful - coach or teacher - if they are not being encouraged to move beyond the chaos of the everyday? There is an opportunity here to initiate deeper work with teachers so they feel supported, trusted, and motivated to elevate their classroom practice, regardless of the physical setting. Either returning to or adapting the use of video to work towards these objectives is more than just a quick fix for our time: it's one of the building blocks for a 21st century school.
Here are five ways coaches can refocus away from the basics this fall and on to higher-level concepts:
1. Encourage a growth-mindset perspective, not one of survival
- Teachers want to feel like their work is improving
- Provide feedback on live-streamed and recorded videos first thing in the beginning of the year, and make it a priority throughout
- Model on video and do it often
2. Cap how much time you spend on small problems
- Trust teachers to tackle low-level issues with minimal intervention
- Provide them with reasonable options, like skilled.space, to fill any gaps
- Use video coaching to focus on bolstering specific skills in hybrid settings
- Make an impact by being available for feedback and long-term goal setting
3. Create rules that allow for artifacts to be captured on video
- The policy of zero recording isn’t in everyone’s best interest
- Frame recording as a growth exercise, rather than an evaluative one
- Confirm with teachers that video will be used for professional learning
- Create an atmosphere of support around sharing videos of teaching
4. Design and distribute best practices libraries that foster positive success stories
- Create an environment that acknowledges struggles and celebrates triumphs
- Use video to model how teachers can overcome problems
- Model a variety of teaching styles and strategies
5. Remind teachers that self-reflection and peer observation are necessary for continuous development
- Make video self-reflection a priority so teachers become fully acclimated to their technological habitat and will in turn spend more time focusing on creating supportive spaces for students
- Be ready to help newer teachers adapt in a digital landscape
- Ask teachers to reflect on the complete transformation of their profession
It’s important at this time to not let the weight of every detail stall the progress we know our teachers are capable of and deserve. In the spring, we may not have had much control over that. But now we do, and it’s in our power to make this an exceptional year. Educators have it ingrained in their DNA to put others before themselves; perhaps that is something that needs a shift along with everything else. If we are not leading teachers to thrive in a hybrid setting, they - and our students - will be stuck in the past.
Do you need assistance rebuilding your video coaching program for hybrid learning? Our Customer Success Team works with coaches all over the world and can help match you with resources or network with other coaches for ideas. Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org