Q&A: Monica Jordan, Memphis City Schools

As part of professional development and growth for Memphis City School Teachers, video resources are being added into schools. Teachers will gain experience, support and professional development for use of videos in their classrooms. Support for the video solution in schools is being provided by Teachscape, a pioneer in classroom video use. To learn more about this partnership we interviewed Monica Jordan, coordinator of reflective practice and teacher support for Memphis City Schools:
GS: What lessons from technology in the classroom can translate to professional development?
MJ: Specifically, we can now ask teachers to film themselves implementing what they have learned during any professional development and provide comprehensive feedback and follow-up in real-time. Additionally, teachers can share footage with each other to glean an even better understanding of how to further nuance and refine emerging learning they have acquired through traditional professional development mechanisms. Filming best practices, demonstration lessons, or practicing new concepts is also a viable option to generate even more professional development – actually using the technology to form new professional development.
GS: How do teachers react to video recordings of their teaching?
MJ: Of their own teaching, they usually see themselves in a way that makes them ask, “do I really look like that?” or, “do I really sound like that?”  But then they get used to it and carry on with more productive questions like, ”I can see now where I missed an opportunity to ask deeper questions in that precise moment, now I can work to build in a cue to remind myself to stop and ask those deeper questions of students the next time I teach.” Of seeing others teaching, they deeply appreciate seeing teaching in action. They see the actual teaching, not the teachers. They see the student responses to the teacher actions and they are able to holistically understand the complex and beautiful synergy that is teaching.
GS: What sorts of tools do teachers uncover from video self evaluations of their own teaching?
MJ: The most important tool is the skill of analyzing teaching as a craft, not analyzing a person. Another important tool is the ability to affirm and propel the skills that they now how video evidence from which to work. Teachers are also discovering that providing themselves feedback through the commenting and tagging feature available with the Teachscape platform offers them an opportunity to initiate a dialogue in advance of actually sitting down with a trusted colleague or coach.  
GS: How can video-based examples and instruction help teachers better understand professional development lessons?
MJ: Video-based examples enable the teachers to see the desired skill in action in a real context. What our teachers also always report is that they want to see the desired skills in action in a local context. Our systems allow us to showcase skills in action in a local context. This removes erroneous thinking that certain moves or skills can’t be performed and yield desired outcomes within our local context.
GS: How does video help teachers receive just-in-time professional development?
MJ: Teachers can practice a newly learned skill, film it, and share it immediately with a coach or trusted colleague and receive feedback just as quickly. The feedback is more comprehensive because it is attached to the actual moment in time when the skill was performed. Our evaluation system is grounded in framework that describes best-practice teaching moves. Using the framework as the foundation for identifying the skills that are visible while teaching and then giving feedback in the context of that framework allows for tailored feedback that easily produces a dialogue around which direction to go next with the teacher’s craft.
GS: Thanks Monica!

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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