Story From The Field

Teacher Space: A Forum for Informal Feedback

Build an online community for giving and receiving video-based feedback.



How To Guide

Teacher Space: A Forum for Informal Feedback

Implemented by
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Rachel S

Based on Ideas by

Missy C, Samantha S, Robert W

Inspired by the Experiences of

Eric Russo, Ben

Build an online community for giving and receiving video-based feedback.

What You'll Need

Effort Hours Days Weeks Months

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

How To

1

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.After testing the Teacher Space feedback process with individual teachers,Swanson recruited five participants from the 30 elementary math teachers she coaches in her role at the Academy for Urban School Leadership(AUSL).She says,“As a coach,I will go from one school to another in the same day,and actually be helping different teachers on the same thing.This is a way to connect teachers who might not otherwise be connected,but who might really be working on similar things.”

2

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. Make sure feedback is actionable. With just these guidelines, however, Swanson found that participants varied widely in the tone and style of their feedback. She recommends each group kick off with a discussion—in person, or via Google Hangout or similar—to reach consensus about the type of feedback they want (e.g. do they want questions that prompt them to further reflection, or just specific suggestions.) She also says participants should use this discussion to share any context that may be important for others to know when providing them feedback. This may include the type of community the school serves, if the teacher is using a particular curriculum, and the teachers’ past experience. Explains Swanson: “Once you make that connection with others in your group you want to come back and continue the conversation.”

3

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.” For an early test of Swanson’s protocol, Kindergarten teacher Danielle Brown recorded herself leading a small group of students in playing a game to learn addition and subtraction. It was her first time using the game, and before trying it again she wanted feedback on how she communicated the game’s purpose and instructions.

4

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. In Swanson’s model, a group meets again at the end of a cycle—in-person or virtually—to discuss the feedback and plan the next cycle.

5

Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the other group members, until everyone gets feedback. Then begin a new cycle.


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