Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Power of Videos in Instructional Rounds

Our elementary school hosted instructional rounds today and so all of the district's administrators arrived at 8:00 this morning. Our principal, Grace, invited a few of the building's teacher leaders to participate, including me and Melanie Swider. During her welcome and powerpoint presentation, Grace reviewed how many new teachers we have, as well as how many teachers are in new positions. Teams of administrators would be visiting five of the new teachers' classrooms to evaluate how the extensive induction programs we have provided throughout the year have helped them develop their practices. Nerve-wracking for the new teachers, no doubt, but an authentic and meaningful problem of practice to explore!

Grace assigned the administrators into specific teams with each team looking at a specific standard. She had one team focus on planning, one focus on instruction, one focus on classroom environment, and one team focus on collaboration. I stayed with the collaboration group and we watched a series of video clips in the media center. While I don't think that this is the norm for instructional rounds, it was an incredibly powerful activity to share with administrators from around the district!

The five video clips that we watched were:

  1. One of our PLCs reviewing a lesson that they had shared with each other. One of the fourth grade teachers consistently had students doing well on district writing assessments in elaboration so the team decided that they would watch her lesson and determine what she was doing that was so effective. The video showed them talking about their noticings, their own students, and next steps. 
  2.  A PLC setting up a SMART goal at the beginning of the second cycle of inquiry. Grace facilitated this meeting and the video showed strong dialogue about reviewing data, establishing baselines,  developing a plan and hypothesis, and setting criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of their action steps.
  3. A kindergarten PLC discussing how to improve the books that the children were reading and how to improve the shares that happen in their classrooms. 
  4. One of our New Teacher Meetings where teachers were talking about what tools and resources they have used throughout the year to help them develop professionally.
  5. A coaching session between Melanie and three of the new teachers.
From watching these videos, we could see the clear patterns of teachers taking risks, sharing practices, wondering with colleagues about the effectiveness of their strategies, and pushing each other to reflect not only on their own work but on each other's practices as well. I had initially wondered how effective sitting and watching videos of meetings would be for administrators but having experienced it, I can attest to rich conversations and meaningful feedback that is possible from this activity. I am just finishing my administration program so I have only been on the receiving end of instructional rounds until today. Have others used video clips as part of rounds? What have your experiences been if you have? I'd love to hear!

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