Strategic CPD with Lessonbox
In the November 2016 Teaching Schools Council (TSC) report ‘Effective Primary Teaching Practice’ Headteacher of Parkfield Community School Hazel Pulley states,
“If pupils are to make rapid progress they need teachers with excellent up-to-date subject knowledge and an understanding of the teaching quality required. We have totally moved away from formal lesson observations. Instead, coaching partnerships have been developed using video technology, regular pop-in opportunities in classrooms and focused work scrutiny to provide bespoke professional development. Evaluation is a key aspect of all our CPD; checking for impact is seen as an imperative.”
Classrooms are complex, dynamic settings where a lot goes on and capturing the action is never easy. Traditionally schools have normally ‘sent someone in’ to observe a lesson and then provide a teacher with feedback. Whilst this is always a valuable strategy, having another adult in the room can be more than a bit off-putting for everyone and the onus on the observer to see everything and report back accurately can be enormous. Classroom life is always multi-layered and rich, filled with nuances and subtleties and impossible for one person to capture.
Technology changes this and classroom video footage in particular such as Lessonbox mobile can record what happens without being intrusive and best of all, you can play it back and watch it again. Suitable for all educational settings, Lessonbox is leading the way.
Schools are transforming the way they do lesson observations by shifting from formal visits to informal video recordings for mentoring, specialist coaching and collaborative coaching. A lesson is recorded and looked at with a colleague or colleagues as a means of providing personalised professional support through discussion about their practice.
CUREE (the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education), distinguishes between three related processes:
- Mentoring is a structured, sustained process for supporting professional learners through significant career transitions.
- Specialist coaching is a structured, sustained process for enabling the development of a specific aspect of a professional learner’s practice.
- Collaborative Co-coaching is a structured, sustained process between two or more professional learners to enable them to embed new knowledge and skills from specialist sources in day-to-day practice.
Lessonbox can support all three processes but it is most suitable for coaching purposes as the rich video footage can be used to support teachers
- develop specific professional skills to enhance their teaching repertoire
- support experimentation with classroom strategies
- provide opportunities for reflection and problem-solving
Lessonbox supports improvement
School improvement is underpinned by teachers’ learning and development and Lessonbox plays a key role here as it can provide a vehicle for raising achievement and attainment. When teachers’ learning is based on an authentic assessment and understanding of pupils’ learning they can start to make alterations to their practice which can lead to real differences in outcomes. A formal lesson observation can only ever be a snapshot but a Lessonbox video is lesson observation widescreen and long-lasting.
Lessonbox can blend into the environment and enable genuine assessment to take place and so provides the best conditions for real performances. Looking back at a lesson informally with a teaching coach (e.g. a colleague, Deputy) enables teachers to:
- to experience and grow understanding of knowledge and skills
- to gain several opportunities to learn and apply information
- to have their beliefs challenged by evidence which is not consistent with their assumptions
- have opportunities to share new learning with others.
Lessonbox powerfully supports strategic CPD and so can be a friend and not a foe by acting as a strong dimension in teachers’ professional learning in school. A lesson that is videoed allows teachers to assess the quality of their planning, challenge and feedback, relationships, the impact of the learning environment, student motivation and crucially the link between their learning and students learning. It allows them to finely tune what they can do to support students.
Lessonbox can help put the trust back into a lesson observation by being impartial and when used as a coaching tool can support teachers who genuinely wish to improve to develop their practice and can be used to improve teaching and learning across the school as a whole. You could combine Lessonbox with a formal observation so that an adult present in a lesson can then join coach and coachee where three different views can be heard – this would provide a valuable opportunity to show how much of a lesson can be ‘missed’ when observed in person.
Reach your potential with Lessonbox
Research shows us that video is not being used to its maximum potential in schools because teachers can feel anxious about it but the benefits are many and varied. For example, it provides a teacher with a unique view of their own practice and acts as an objective witness to the lesson. A teacher can get an insight into how students were engaging with the lesson, they can hear themselves provide instructions or explanations, spotting individual students’ behaviours or evidence of learning missed while teaching. A coach and coachee might interpret a lesson quite differently but video technology provides a level playing field and a rich context for discussion.
Lessonbox enables you to unpack a lesson and closely scrutinise practice and so provides the opportunity to rewind and reframe a lesson experience. The concrete evidence provided in a video is enormous and so Lessonbox is a dynamic resource for referring to and revisiting on more than one occasion.
It will always be the case that you could spend hours dissecting a lesson which is why it is important to have an agreed focus prior to coach and coachee watching together so that time spent is well.