Video can be a powerful tool for CPD, says Christophe Mullings – but it’s important to set the scene first
evidence of the benefits. Schools will usually introduce this technology with the objective of improving teaching and in turn, outcomes for pupils. And whether it’s to allow them to provide more effective coaching support in a bid to retain their NQTs; to save lesson cover costs and make collaborative enquiry work around the timetable; or to simply encourage a reflective culture amongst staff, introducing video for CPD requires a plan.
What do you want?
The implementation of any new innovation, programme, practice or curriculum can be difficult. Far too often the change management process is overlooked and as a result, the desired improvements do not materialise.
At this point, it is not uncommon for school leaders to look at a completely new innovation and all too soon, they can find themselves in a vicious cycle that can create turbulence for the day-to-day activities of teachers.
Developing a teacher led, grassroots approach to CPD often requires a cultural shift and this can take time to cultivate. To truly harness the power of video, the following questions should be asked upfront:
- What learning culture do we want in classrooms and in the staffroom?
- How will teachers develop and share values?
- How will teachers meet people where they are?
- How will the school encourage openness and tolerance?
Communication and trust
When deciding to introduce a video based professional learning system – as with any new CPD initiative – it is vital to ensure that recognition and understanding form part of the implementation process alongside addressing any concerns.
You may have personal concerns – for example, you may simply hate the idea of seeing yourself on camera; or dislike the notion of being ‘watched’ while you do your job for fear the technology will be used as a monitoring tool for performance management. Your colleagues may be worried about the time required to adopt a new approach.
Clear communication of the benefits, feedback and follow up activities are key. Inviting others to talk to you and your colleagues about their successes with video can prove very reassuring. In order to build trust and ownership, video should only be used as a developmental, supportive tool, something that’s to be understood and respected by the whole school community.
Introducing a code of practice can be helpful by affirming how lesson videos are shared, how data will be securely managed and how video will be used to benefit teachers and ultimately pupils.
Manage the change
Involving the wider community in the planning and subsequent communications can ensure everything runs smoothly. This includes parents, pupils and non-teaching staff, especially IT technicians.
It is important to remember and respect that not all teachers will be keen on recording their own lessons. Consider ways in which these individuals could watch from the sidelines to begin with, or perhaps contribute to video based discussions online without the need to be recorded themselves.
Ultimately, new technology requires a new approach, a new approach requires change and change requires management. Together with your SLT, you’ll need to carefully consider how you’ll free up time, who will take the lead, the structures and timetabling required and how the school will foster a professional learning culture based on trust and collaboration.
Video is a powerful professional learning tool – but to have a real impact, as much attention must be given to change management as the technology in which you’re investing.
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6 steps to get you started with video CPD
Start in a neutral place – begin by watching a lesson clip from a neutral setting rather than one of your own or one from your own school. This will help you to get used to video and start to hone your analytical skills.
Identify a ‘pathfinder’ group of teachers – trial the technology with a specific professional learning objective, then feedback successes to the rest of the staff.
Set norms for professional discussion around video – a key norm might be to focus on the learning rather than the teacher.
Establish professional learning communities – for example triads, departments, year groups or film club groups that have shared educational goals.
Build in support mechanisms – ensure a support process is in place when challenges occur, whether that be your IT technician or your SLT.
Make sure you have time – adopting this new form of CPD will take time before it is fully embedded in your way of working and the school as a whole. Make sure you and your colleagues are given the time and full support of your SLT.
About the author
Christophe Mullings is head of education at IRIS Connect. He has nine years teaching experience and completed a Masters degree on effective professional learning.
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