Educational Service Center Region 11, Texas (US)
In 2016, Texas adopted a new state-recommended appraisal system for teachers called the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS). This was a massive undertaking and replaced an evaluation and professional development system that had been in use for over a decade.
With any major overhaul of teaching standards, there is inevitably an implementation bottleneck as districts and educators familiarize themselves with the new requirements and attempt to implement them into practice.
As ESC 11 worked with schools in assisting with the transition, there was one recurring question among districts; “What is it supposed to look like?” That is, what are the new standards supposed to look like in actual practice? Since many of the standards aren’t simply based on “Is it happening or not?”, there is a level of nuance that is often difficult to fully understand without seeing real examples of teachers demonstrating those nuances.
At this point, it occurred to ESC 11 that excellent examples of these teaching standards are happening every day across Region 11; they just needed a scalable way to capture the teaching and make it more widely available. And while there are produced video libraries of practice available for purchase from a variety of vendors, very few touch on the specific nuances covered by the new T-TESS system and nearly all showcase teachers in other states.
The next problem to solve became how to capture real and relatable video examples of teaching standards, at scale. ESC 11 decided to partner with IRIS Connect to crowdsource a video library of real teaching practice.
Teela Watson, Former Director of Instructional Services at ESC Region 11 explains that “using IRIS Connect allows us to leverage our few coaches to multiply the number of districts we can effectively serve.”
“IRIS Connect is cost effective for our districts and provides an economical solution for the job-embedded follow-up to our PD that is essential for our success.” – Teela Watson, Former Director of Instructional Services, ESC Region 11
Vision for the future
The effort is presented as a “Challenge” of sorts, with a variety of prizes to incentivize participation. All educators in Region 11 will have free access to a full IRIS Connect account for two months, then free access to the library thereafter. This will allow educators to record their teaching using IRIS Connect’s mobile app and securely and easily upload it to their private account. Once they have a video they like, they can submit it for consideration to be included in ESC 11’s “Real Video Library”.
Rather than ask teachers to record specific examples from the T-TESS Dimensions, ESC 11 opted to focus on 10 key instructional practices that could serve as the basis for aligning to T-TESS or a variety of other initiatives that teachers may need video examples for.
To encourage more participation, an emphasis was placed on capturing “real practice” not “best practice”. Since best practice can often be highly subjective, the focus was put on demonstrating the practices that have worked for individual teachers.
Once the videos are curated and aligned to standards, The Real Video Library will be made available via IRIS Connect to all Region 11 educators, free of charge. The video submission period is currently underway and will conclude on April 15th, 2017. It is anticipated that the video library will be made available to educators by the end of May, 2017.
“Using IRIS Connect to create a video library of real teachers, teaching real lessons is one of the best things we can do for our teachers and districts. It provides the opportunity for teachers to see ‘what it looks like’ in a real world environment.” – Teela Watson, Former Director of Instructional Services, ESC Region 11