A recipe for the cookbook

Want great feedback in a safe and supportive space?

In Stage 1, Kate, Kristin, Robert, Shelia, and many other educators shared the power of viewing video of our practice and getting actionable feedback. In Stage 2, Chris, Kate, and Shelia shared ideas to ensure teachers have access to supportive, meaningful feedback to strengthen practice and improve student learning. Check out how they're bringing these ideas to life with educators across the country.

Recipe
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Chris B

Academy for Urban School Leadership

Materials

-Two cell phones, one connected to a headset or earpiece.
-One wifi-enabled video recording device, like an iPad, with FaceTime installed. If a non-Apple device is used, Google Hangouts will work.
-A computer /tablet that can use the same videochat app (Facetime/Google Hangouts).

Community

-At least one teacher and one coach. More than one coach may observe at the same time, but only one should provide realtime feedback.

Conditions

-Rapport among a teacher and coach to agree upon a focus and norms feedback.
-Some comfort experimenting with new ways to use common technologies.

Live Interactive Video Feedback

Problem Statement & Description

In the theater world, actors rehearsing a play have prompters who can give them a line or direction if they need it. Imagine if teachers could get the same kind of support. A quick reminder during a lesson to ask students a follow-up question, or to allow enough wait time for their answers, could make the difference between success and frustration for teachers and students.

Innovator Chris Bruggeman is experimenting with a way for instructional coaches to prompt teachers in real time with brief suggestions focused on the teacher’s specific areas for growth. During a lesson, a coach communicates to the teacher from another room by cell phone while watching a live feed from the classroom captured on a tablet computer. By using a headset, only the teacher hears the coaches’ voice. Afterwards, the coach and teacher debrief on the lesson.

Follow this recipe to try out live coaching using technology that you and your schools likely already have.

How To

1

Agree on a focus and norms for feedback. Realtime feedback is best focused on one specific goal, such as using appropriate wait time when questioning, or pacing to make sure the teacher gets through all parts of a lesson. A teacher who gets feedback on multiple aspects of teaching throughout a lesson may get overwhelmed. Along with a focus, a teacher and coach should agree on how feedback will be provided (e.g. in no more than three our words, only when no one in the classroom is talking, etc.). They should also discuss various non-verbal signals the teacher can give to the coach (e.g. touching one’s ear to signal that a direction wasn’t heard clearly). Says Bruggeman: “It’s really important for them to get an understanding of how they’ll communicate beforehand.” Bruggeman sees the biggest potential for live feedback in supporting teachers in moving from basic to proficient performance in specific aspects of practice. Teachers struggling in lots of areas may only get more stressed by getting feedback while in the middle of teaching. A teacher who’s mastered the basics, however, may be able to give a little more attention to realtime suggestions.

2

Set up the system, and test it. For the audio, the coach simply calls the teacher by cell phone, while the teacher wears an earset. A video feed is set up by positioning a device, such as an iPad, to capture the scene in the classroom (be it the whole room, or small group work) and starting a video chat (with FaceTime or Google Hangouts) with the coach’s laptop or tablet.

3

Provide live feedback during the lesson. Bruggeman suggests keeping the time for feedback to no more than 15 minutes. This allows for focusing on a specific goal, and lessens the chance of overloading a teacher’s attention while leading her class. The teacher and coach should determine ahead of time roughly when the feedback may begin (e.g. as the teacher gives directions for students to work in groups.) Feedback should be given in just a few words (e.g. “ask the class ‘do you agree?’ ” Explains Bruggeman: “Instructions need to be given sparingly, and effectively?”)

4

Debrief the observation. The coach and teacher should meet, in-person or virtually, as soon as possible after the observation so that the lesson is fresh in their minds. For the most part, the debrief can follow any strong protocol for post-observation conferences. But following a live feedback session, participants should also use the time to discuss the live feedback process (i.e. how it was helpful, and what would make it more so.) The teacher should also ask any clarifying questions about the feedback received during the lesson (e.g. “what did you mean when you said ‘ask him to explain his answer?’ ” The coach can also check the teacher’s understandings (e.g. “Why would it be important to ask him that at that point in the lesson?”)

Protips for Practical Problem Solving

Go slow, and work out the kinks. Even after a number of trials, Bruggeman considers live feedback to be fairly experimental. It takes practice, and may require some technical troubleshooting. He’s still working with teachers and coaches to better codify the process, to make it as easier and more efficient. Others who follow his recipe should approach it in the same spirit, as something to try with interested participants willing to experiment with a new approach to providing feedback. Those who do will hone their own protocols for making it work for coaches and the teachers they support.


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