As we last left our lovely elementary school, teachers were challenged to record themselves trying one of these strategies. The reasons for this were 2 fold: to encourage teachers to try something new, and to allow teachers a venue for sharing their practice (when peer observation is not otherwise an option.)
I knew the power of watching peers, but this webinar from the Teaching Channel clearly broke down the steps for me. The Teaching Channel offers services for a fee, which we did not do, but the philosophy and tips offered here were beneficial as we forged ahead.
- Find a volunteer
1 brave teacher from each grade level volunteered to record their practice. One grade level had every member volunteer. I’m so proud of all these teacher leaders. To ease fears, we published an FAQ to dispel rumors about the project. Teachers were asked simply to record the strategy they tried for 3-5 minutes. Not a full lesson. Not a unit. Just 3-5 minutes.
- Try a strategy a few times
Teachers were encouraged to try a new strategy several times BEFORE recording themselves. No one wants to mess with technology, feel the pressure of performance, and try something new all at once.
- Record on a device
Most teachers recorded their strategy on a phone or ipad. The principal and I offered our services to record anyone who didn’t want to mess with the technology. I didn’t want tech-phobia to hinder anyone from participating. I was lucky enough to go into a classroom to see a strategy. Great for me because I saw something that was hard to comprehend in a book, but exciting to see in real life. Great for the teacher because I was the one who stood on the table in the back while she taught, and she didn’t have to worry about hitting the ‘record’ button.
- Share with your team using a protocol
The people at my building are not fans of protocols. They find them too restricting. I understand that. However, when trying something new and potentially fear-inducing (like revealing your teaching practice to your peers), I find using a protocol creates a structure. Protocols produce the sandbox in which we can play safely. I like this protocol because it provides positive feedback as well as some safe suggestions from peers.
- Give feedback to the sharing teacher using a sharing tool
In addition to the protocol, we wanted people to take notes while watching the video. Teachers took notes on a tool, allowing them to record thoughts they would share during the protocol, as well as rip off a section of the paper to share with the sharing teacher. In exchange for bravery in sharing one’s practice, these teachers should get some quality feedback on their techniques.
Was it successful? Our data shows teachers are more knowledgeable about the strategies as well as are trying more in their classroom. In addition to this good news, teachers were able to share their practice, and ‘enter’ each other’s classrooms through the magic of technology.