TSR! Coaching Counts

Coaching Counts is a monthly newsletter for TSR coaches and coordinators that offers information on coaching best practices. Throughout the year, the newsletter will focus on important aspects of coaching to continue to help you support early childhood teachers enrolled in TSR.

April Crawford, Ph.D.
April Crawford, Ph.D.
Director, Texas School
Ready! Project

This Month's Playbook

Use of Videos in Teacher Reflection Sessions

Remote Control


Remote coaches are no strangers to videoing instruction, but how often do you have planned teacher reflection sessions? Instead of using the video editing software for an entire clip, leave a segment of the video unfinished (particularly if the teacher is using a practice related to a short-term goal). Use that segment on a coaching call to prompt a teacher reflection period using open-ended questions. 

Have you ever had teachers insist that they were or were not exhibiting certain behaviors in the classroom when you suspected otherwise? Or perhaps you had difficulty articulating the way a certain child reacted to the teacher’s instruction? Memory is a tricky thing, and these moments can be difficult for coaches to navigate. The use of video is an objective tool to enhance the already considerable benefits of teacher self-reflection. For this edition of Coaching Counts, we would like to explore these benefits and how you can incorporate video reflection into your coaching strategy.  

How it works

1. A coach records instruction for a relatively short period of time (e.g. during one activity), attempting to capture the teacher utilizing practices previously targeted for improvement.

2. The coach then reviews the video in private, making notes on the teacher’s performance.

3. Teacher and coach reconvene for the reflection session.

4. The coach asks a prompting question based on his or her prior review of the video. The question is meant to prime the teacher to look for the same improvement areas the coach has already noted in the video. Questions should simply prompt, rather than lead, the teacher’s reflection. Examples of prompting questions may be:

  • How are children responding to you during this part of the lesson?
  • What suggestions would you make to help the lesson flow better?
  • If you do this again, what can you do differently to help the children learn more?
  • Were all of your students engaged? 
  • What worked in this lesson? How do you know?
  • What could you do to help children understand rhyming words?
  • What would you do the same or differently if you could reteach this lesson?
  • What did you notice in the class?

5. The coach then plays the video and pauses the recording after each segment that shows a teacher utilizing focused target areas.

6. The teacher spends several minutes verbally reflecting on how the activity was successful and unsuccessful, what practices could be introduced or strengthened, etc. The coach only steps in if the teacher could benefit from another reflective prompt.

7. If the teacher does not recognize his or her area of improvement in the video after a few moments, only then should the coach articulate it. Remember, the main goal of this coaching strategy is for the teacher to reflect on his or her own, which means the teacher should be talking more than the coach. 

 

How it helps

Video provides a rich, indisputable avenue for evaluating one’s own behaviors and students’ reactions to those behaviors. Visual perspectives inaccessible to the teacher the first time are suddenly made available. Videos can be reviewed again and again, with attention given each time to different factors affecting the success of the activity.

Research shows that having a designated reflection period results in teachers displaying more intentional instructional practices, such as grouping.  Combining a reflection period with a videographic record of the activity results in a powerful tool to enhance the quality of instruction. Furthermore, video reflection strengthens a teacher’s memory of the specific practice, just as we would be more likely to remember the details of a movie plot after seeing it multiple times on film.  

Teachers engaging in video reflection should take time to evaluate whether students in the video are succeeding in learning, rather than simply focusing on their own strengths or weaknesses as instructors. This is particularly important when teachers may feel they performed the activity well—yet, if the students seem confused or inattentive, there is most likely something the teacher could improve upon.    

Remember that video reflection is not for you as a coach—don’t speak over the teacher or verbalize impressions of the teacher’s performance before the teacher has had a chance to recognize areas of improvement on her own. As much as possible, let the teacher find her own points of reflection. This will foster a reflective habit that will stay with the teacher when you are not there recording. 

Video reflection will be further reviewed in this month’s coaching calls. Until then, think of how you could best incorporate video reflection into your short-term goal setting and, more practically, your schedule!

 

Tips to keep in mind

  • Because video reflection can yield many constructive feedback opportunities that might overwhelm a coaching session, focus video recording on one activity or a small set of practices.
  • Always align video reflection to short-term goals whenever possible.
  • Avoid using handheld cameras, as this may put a teacher on edge. Set up the camera on a tripod or other structure in an inconspicuous place in the classroom.

Announcement

  • Join us on Friday, April 25 from 12:30 - 2:00 PM for the Lunch and Learn Call!
  • Don't forget to register for the 4th Annual TSR Summer Institute, taking place on July 9-11 in San Antonio. Registration is open now for TSR participants and staff. Click here to register!
  • Wednesday, April 30 is the deadline to upload video reflections from last month.
  • The annual TSR End-of-Year (EOY) surveys will be emailed soon to TSR participants. Encourage your teachers and administrators to complete the EOY surveys and help us provide better services to our participants.
  • SAVE THE DATE for the 2-day Remote Coaches meeting, taking place June 18 and 19 in Houston. More information will be emailed to remote coaches soon!

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