Rapid improvement through coaching

West Hills STEM Academy, Washington (US)

Teachers and coaches at West Hills STEM Academy in Bremerton, Washington have been using IRIS Connect video technology to transform their professional development process. Assistant Principal Andrea Tee shares a few insights from their journey:

Andrea Teaching Why did West Hills STEM Academy decide to adopt video-based professional development?

​”We have a large staff and one instructional coach. Often, the instructional coach is requested to support during the same time in multiple classrooms. It is not possible for this to happen! The video-based professional development program helps to mitigate this problem as she can now be in more than one place at once.”

How do educators at West Hills use IRIS Connect?

“​Educators at West Hills STEM Academy use IRIS Connect in a variety of ways, determined by their individual needs for professional development and support. ​Some use it to target a specific skill they have selected to work on and reflect privately or in collaboration with the instructional coach. Some share their videos within their Grade Level PLCs to talk about practices and connections to the curriculum and its implementation. Others use it to share with their evaluator to talk about their growth in connection with the CEL5D instructional framework. ​Some even use it for the purpose of reflecting and improving classroom management.”

Have you seen changes in the culture of professional learning?

​”Staff seem less hesitant about opening up their practice – to their peers, their evaluators, and even the general public. They have a better sense of what is occurring in the school, feel more connected to the experiences of their peers, and have increased ownership in our common agreements and school-wide professional development goals.”​

Were staff initially hesitant? How were you able to overcome that?

​”Staff were initially hesitant. Capitalizing on the bravery of the early adopters and then allowing additional adopters the options to participate in the Video Professional Development in a format that was still within their zone of proximal development has increased teacher buy-in to the program. A strong emphasis on privacy and protecting that privacy has also been very helpful – to the point that our staff are fully comfortable with sharing amongst their teams and are not concerned about what their evaluator sees.”

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

“Clear protocols using targeted feedback – strengths-based, actionable, and evidence-based – provide a focused and safe environment for interacting with the video. It creates a culture of trust that opens up the practice and avoids the pitfall of criticism and comparison.”

How have your teachers/coaches/students benefitted?

Things teachers have said:

“I found it useful both for self-reflection as well as getting a better picture into what groups were doing/how they were interacting when I wasn’t nearby. It was a great way to record student discourse that I didn’t always get to hear.”

“Increased my focus on a topic. I don’t like being watched but after a while I forgot the camera was there so my teaching was more natural and felt like it was an opportunity to get genuine professional feedback without worrying about someone sitting in my room. Watching the video helped me reflect on practices other than just my focus topic.”

“It’s helped me see where I spend most of my focus/attention during my lessons.”

“Students get to evaluate themselves and actually see their form for different skills vs thinking they know what they did.”

“As a coach, it has allowed me to be in more places at one time, helping to support more teachers in what they need. The direct benefit to me is time.”

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

“Yes, not only is it efficient, but it can be individualized to meet the needs and areas of growth for a specific educator.”

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

“A strong, collaborative, safe and trusting environment is the #1 essential piece to have in place for adoption of the IRIS connect to be successful.

  • Set up a structure to support teachers with the basics of the technology.
  • Adopt clear protocols that can flex to an individual teacher’s needs.
  • Obtain background and training in targeted feedback – strengths-based, evidence-based, and actionable.”

Desiree Hall

Desiree, teacher and coach at West Hills STEM Academy, explains her transition from traditional coaching to video-based coaching. Through the use of video, Desiree multiplies her coaching impact among colleagues. Hear her story below.

To learn more about West Hills STEM Academy’s school-wide use of video for professional development, click here.

“I have been able to be in multiple rooms at the same time without actually being there. It’s been extremely powerful!”

“I don’t think it matters where you are in your career, whether you’re a first year teacher or a 30 year teacher… there’s something that you always can learn, and there’s lots of different ways to learn it.”

IRIS Connect allows educators to capture, upload, analyze, and share videos online for highly-effective professional learning. If you’d like to learn more about IRIS Connect call 206-201-1998 or click here to start a free trial.

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