First came remote learning.
Teachers adapted to a new mode of instruction in a matter of days.
But remote learning was followed by hybrid, and then a school year of quarantines, disrupted schedules, and stressful changes to normal life.
Then came the after effects.
From the pandemic and the public health response to it, students have experienced social isolation, too much screen time, and constant health scares for two years. Now, teachers are faced with the behavioral and mental health crises that come with it all. As they try to help students rebuild deteriorated essential competencies, they’re going to need help.
As administrators look ahead, teacher support can’t be business as usual. Teacher self-reflection and video coaching, as part of a plan targeted at teachers and students most in need, is the essential act for post-pandemic recovery.
But it all starts with a deep understanding of how we got here.
Screen time and isolation harmed essential student competencies
Adolescents’ screen time doubled during the pandemic, and increases were even larger for students of color. Excessive screen time and the decrease in sleep it brings are linked to an increase in impulsive behavior for children. At-home learning meant many students were socially isolated, contributing to soaring mental health issues. The APA reported that 4 out 5 teens experienced more stress during the pandemic, and the CDC reported a 30% increase in mental health ER visits by children ages 12-17.
Social isolation and technology overstimulation led to a decrease in two essential competencies: persistence and curiosity. These are the SEL competencies that have been directly tied to students’ academic success. Additionally, the increase in behavior issues teachers now deal with make helping students recover these competencies and other academic skills increasingly difficult.
The challenge teachers face in addressing students’ current needs is not more of what was already happening. It’s a new issue with a new cause, requiring a new response.
A scaffolded plan for robust teacher support
When teachers say “we are not trained for this,” they mean it literally. Current classroom challenges are issues of classroom management. While there is nothing new about classroom management, the causes and manifestations of the issues are new.
The most powerful tool for making progress on classroom management is reflecting and coaching based on classroom video.
First, teachers need to view their challenges outside of the in-the-moment stress of class. In other words, teachers need to reflect on videos of their own instruction whenever issues arise.
Then, teachers need support from colleagues and a clear elevation path to coaches. This empowers schools to solve problems and support teachers using the collective intelligence and resources they already have.
Lastly, administrators need to see what teachers are facing, give personalized feedback and (in rare cases) share evidence with experts. This involves some combination of virtual walkthroughs, remote observations, and sharing video clips with experts like school psychologists.
With schedules full and personnel limited, how can administrators make a plan that seems to be asking everyone to do more? There’s good news: the tools exist for leaders ready to direct time and attention towards schools’ biggest challenges.
Video coaching powered by Teams is the missing link
For a robust system of teacher support that includes but goes beyond the typical observations tied to evaluation models and job contracts, video coaching is the flexible, scalable solution.
Teams by Swivl is the tool that can make this happen. Teams is a video reflection and collaboration system that allows educators to record, host, and share videos, then dive deep into discussion with video analysis tools like time-stamped bookmarking and commenting with built-in rubric support.
For Instructional Coaches and Administrators, Teams by Swivl helps overcome the barriers of space and time by allowing coaching to happen either asynchronously with recording or live with streaming. For teachers, it’s a place to securely store your content with the tools to bring value to regular self-reflection.
With Teams + Robots, administrators can begin to use video coaching for teacher support with the classroom management challenges, new instructional environments, and other unique challenges they face right now. It starts with giving teachers time and space to think.
Part I: Teachers self-reflect with Teams and a phone
The issues teachers and students face are ones that are time-sensitive. Teachers and administrators need a way to identify those issues fast and create a plan to address them as soon as possible. One of the fastest ways to get objective evidence of what’s happening in the classroom and improve the situation is self-reflection on classroom video. Unlike other forms of professional development, reflection requires no additional personnel and can be done in a variety of locations and at different times.
This is the time to back off on asking teachers to work on new initiatives, and give them time and space to reflect on their current responsibilities.
Video self-reflections can help teachers identify how they’ve dealt with difficult situations, and how they may work through classroom management issues. Additionally, reviewing short moments of instruction in Teams can help teachers identify situations they haven’t been trained for, and can act as a catalyst to seek additional help or start conversations with colleagues or administrators.
Getting started with teacher video reflection can be simple: teachers can begin by propping up a cell phone, tablet or laptop near their desk, and then reviewing the video in Teams at a convenient time.
Right now, many school and district administrators recognize that accelerating academic initiatives is not the top priority. This is the time to back off on asking teachers to work on new initiatives, and give them time and space to reflect on their current responsibilities.
Part II & III: Teachers collaborate with peers and coaches
The best professional learning is often available from the teacher down the hall. During a time when schedules are tight and traveling classroom to classroom may be impractical, Teams can make peer collaboration feasible.
Teachers can connect with each other and instructional coaches by recording key moments in class, then discussing them through Teams. Research shows that collaboration improves student achievement when the discussion is specifically focused on improving student outcomes.
During a time when the learning environment is often in flux, it’s essential for teachers to have a way to quickly discover, share and implement best practices. Ongoing discussion with colleagues and coaches centered around high-quality audio and video from the classroom is the most efficient, effective way to do this.
Part IV: Administrators offer support & feedback
Classroom video and asynchronous discussion can help administrators improve the quality and quantity of feedback to teachers, while also making compliance easier. Of the hundreds of administrators I’ve spoken to throughout my career, one common thread is the desire to give teachers more personalized support outside of mandated observations, but struggling to make time for it.
We work with districts using Teams + Robots for virtual walk-throughs, where teachers in a grade level, department or school all share short video clips with administrators through Teams, and then receive feedback and hold written discussion afterwards. Others support new teachers and maintain the fidelity of their curriculum by collecting and responding to videos from teachers who all teach different sections of the same course.
For those who have the flexibility and desire to do so, Teams + Robots can also empower administrators to conduct remote observations, either recorded or streamed. We’ve found remote observations to be most effective when teachers have buy-in selecting the lesson they stream or recording multiple videos and sharing one of their choice. Teams by Swivl turns a post-observation discussion into a personalized, interactive, multimedia resource for professional learning.
Teams by Swivl turns a post-observation discussion into a personalized, interactive, multimedia resource for professional learning.
In addition to support for teachers in need, video coaching helps directly address the moments that make teachers lament “we are not trained for this.” When students may need support from outside experts, Teams + Robot makes situations portable and consultable.
In the most extreme cases, where a school psychologist or trauma-informed expert must be brought in, video coaching helps get students and teachers the help they need faster by bringing clarity to the situation.
It’s time for schools take important steps forward
Regular self-reflection and video coaching help schools begin to rebuild by giving teachers and students more support.
Through self-reflection, peer collaboration and instructional coaching, teachers can improve classroom management and share best practices during a time of increased behavioral issues. Through virtual observations and walk-throughs, administrators can give personalized feedback at scale and better understand teachers’ challenges while saving time and ensuring compliance. For the rare cases, schools can bring in trauma-informed experts to consult and coach on challenging situations documented through objective, high-quality audio and video.
In each of these cases, both the written, time-stamped, professional conversation and the high-quality audio and video recording of the classroom are there for stakeholders to refer to. A one-time conversation becomes a chance for continuous growth.
While technology is often a contributor to modern problems, we must look for where it can provide solutions. Through frequent video coaching not tied to salary or evaluations, school leaders can ensure teachers improve classroom management, students rebuild their most essential competencies, and everyone begins to take important steps forward.