Video transforms teacher professional development

Tumwater High School, Washington (US)

Interview with Tumwater HS Principal Jeff Broome

For the past several years, teachers at Tumwater High School in Washington have been using IRIS Connect video technology to transform their professional development process. Below, Principal Jeff Broome shares his insights about their journey.

Why did Tumwater HS decide to adopt video-based professional development?

“We had been looking for ways to provide teachers with more opportunities for personal growth and reflection besides the traditional evaluation and coaching methods. Our district does not allocate coaching resources at the secondary level so we were looking for ways to facilitate this process through our PLCs. We had already been doing peer “learning walks” and discussing problems of practice, so the IRIS Connect platform was a logical extension of our work.”

How do educators at Tumwater HS use IRIS Connect?

“Our math and science teachers have been using IRIS Connect for two purposes for several years now. The primary purpose is for self-reflection. Teachers will record and review their own videos looking at specific aspects of their instruction and then share their reflections with their PLC team mates. This has been a safe entry point for our teachers because others do not see their video but they do share their thoughts and insights with their team.

We have also been doing some peer observation and feedback using IRIS Connect. Some teachers have been recording and sharing videos with a partner and getting feedback on specific parts of their lesson. The use of the technology has really benefited our PLC teams in creating a collective culture of inquiry, growth, and trust.

This year we purchased an additional Discovery Kit and next month we are launching an initiative to see if we can expand the use of this tool building wide. This week I had a teacher (who was very nervous about the evaluation process) record her classroom over a several day period and review her videos and share segments with me that I would use for my formal observation. In the end, she felt great about the process. I could watch the videos on my own time and she had a more reflective observational experience. It was a win for everyone involved.”

Have you seen changes in the culture of professional learning?

“Yes, definitely. Our PLC times are so much more focused because teachers are more in tune with their own improvement goals and they have shared with their colleagues. It is a very vulnerable process and when you are able to do that; it takes your PLC to a completely new level. We are also trying to cultivate a culture of continuous improvement and IRIS Connect allows us to drive teachers to be more reflective about their work.”

Were staff initially hesitant? How did you overcome that?

“Yes, they were hesitant. We did some exercises to help staff get more comfortable with seeing themselves on video. Many of my teachers are either new teachers or have gone through the National Board Certification process, in both of these cases video reflection is required. There are still people that are hesitant, but the cultural tide is shifting. Every day people are getting more comfortable with the idea. We gently nudge people! We are persistent that this is that way that we will be facilitating our PD in the future.”

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?

“We were able to overcome the technology challenges; the product is very easy to use. It was really getting people behind the idea that we can learn from watching ourselves. Teaching can be such a private experience and so breaking the teacher culture of isolated silos was the most difficult part. We overcame that barrier early on by using our learning walks. Getting teachers in each other’s classrooms was the first step. The difficult part is that it is logistically difficult and can be expensive to get substitutes. Once people were excited about seeing their colleagues, IRIS Connect was a logical next step to get the same experience.”

What tools or resources have you found most helpful in using video for professional learning?

“The videos and tools in the platform have been very helpful. I have been very fortunate to have a strong teacher leader with me on this journey. Chad Stussy our Science Department PLC leader has been instrumental in leading this charge. As a Principal, I recognize that my instructional leadership can sometimes be limited by the fact that I am not a teacher and have not been one for some time. Using teacher leaders has been a great way to get excited, motivated and credible people moving the same direction to push a cultural change in our building.”

Do you find that using video for PD increases PD efficiency and effectiveness of professional learning at Tumwater?

“The problem with general PD delivery is that it is one size fits all. We preach differentiation to our teachers but we rarely provide it for them in their PD opportunities. Video PD provides teachers with an opportunity to chart their own PD path. The price of an Discovery Kit is the same as sending a team of teachers across the state to a conference for a few days — it is well worth it.”

What advice, tips, or recommendations would you offer to other educators considering adopting IRIS Connect?

“Start small and with a willing group of volunteers. If you continue to support these pioneers with resources, time and encouragement it will gain momentum and begin to be a cultural norm for your organization. Done right, IRIS Connect can help you create the reflective culture of improvement you are looking for.”

Melissa and Chad Stussy

Find out how Melissa and Chad Stussy, Science Teachers at Tumwater High School, are using IRIS Connect to collect evidence for their Teacher/Principal Evaluation Project (TPEP), to support the use of essential questioning across the Science department, and help with their classroom management.

Joshua Reynolds

Learn how student teacher, Joshua Reynolds, is using IRIS Connect to gain important feedback, and explore and develop his practice.

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