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.
Each participant needs:
- A video recording device, like a Smartphone.
- A computer with Internet connection. Also, a YouTube account (free).
- Access to Google Hangouts, or other online meeting platform
- 3 to 5 participants for each Teacher Space group.
- Interest among participants in developing their practice.
- Openness to sharing videos of one’s own teaching, and to giving and receiving feedback
Problem Statement & Description
Think what it would be like if teachers could get frequent feedback on the aspects of teaching that they most want to improve, without having to worry about looking bad in front of evaluators.
Innovator Rachel Swanson has been refining an online feedback process meant to break down the isolation that exists among teachers, and help them feel comfortable sharing their areas for growth. Teachers form small groups—akin to a book club—for informal discussion about videos they share of their teaching that are focused on what they want most to improve.
Follow this recipe to implement the process with YouTube, which Swanson is using to test the Teacher Space idea.
Form a Teacher Space group. Recruit participants from within your school or professional networks. Keeping a group to three to five teachers will ensure that everyone gets feedback every few weeks. If there’s enough interest to form multiple groups consider organizing them around different interests (e.g. by subject matter, grade level, or instructional focus, such as how to check for student understanding.) When recruiting, explain how each group will work by summarizing the steps that follow.
Norm the group’s expectations for feedback. Based on her review of best practices literature, Swanson drafted this short set of guidelines for giving feedback: focus on behaviors, not on people. Be specific. Use “I” statements, not “you” statements. State observations, not interpretations. Remember the 3 Cs: caring - Be kind in your comments; content - base comments on teacher’s specific questions and objectives; and conventions - try to make your language as clear and easy to read as possible and make sure feedback is actionable.
Record, review, and upload a video of teaching. A member of the group captures part of a lesson that’s relevant to the area of practice he or she wants to improve. Keep it to no more than 10 minutes. Before uploading the video to a YouTube channel shared by the group, the teacher reviews the video and prepares an open-ended question (not yes/no) for the viewers to guide their feedback. Along with a question, the teacher includes any brief context essential to understand what’s shown. Also helpful are timestamps, notes about the exact time in in video when something relevant occurs (Timestamps added at the front of comments in YouTube let a viewer skip right to that moment). Says Swanson: “The teacher’s going through the first round of learning by observing themselves.”
Comment on the video, within one week. Using their agreed-upon norms for feedback, the other members of the group review the video and use YouTube’s commenting feature to address the teachers’ question. Comments should include timestamps that connect them to the specific moments in the video related to the viewers’ observations. To be helpful, feedback should be provided within a few days of the lesson featured. Says Swanson: “Any more than that and a teacher is in a different unit, they’ve already figured it out, or decided to put it aside.” The teacher whose video is featured can reply to specific comments for clarifications and additional information.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the other group members, until everyone gets feedback. Then begin a new cycle.
Protips for Practical Problem Solving
Be specific. Participants in Swanson’s early tests were unsure what they should comment on when videos weren’t accompanied by a specific, open-ended question from the teacher who recorded it.