Coaching Teachers with Video Analysis – A Case Study by Harrison Littler
For a long time in the UK, the observation of teachers in the classroom has been infrequent, high stakes and ultimately, a poor tool for driving practice forward. More often than not this has been more of an exercise in quality assurance than staff development. Observers have been required to make judgements against a set of standards, sometimes aligning to Ofsted frameworks more suited to judging whole school performance rather than individuals. Judgements made during lesson observations which typically lasted between 15 and 45 minutes have been used as a proxy for the effectiveness of the teacher as a professional.
At Torquay Academy, we believe that this approach has had its day. At best, it presents a slower route to the improvement of teaching practice and student outcomes compared to our current approach. At worst it actually prevents teacher improvement by engendering a culture of judgement in which staff sometimes feel the need to put on a performance and jump through hoops to satisfy an observer. Inevitably, time is spent comparing performance to a set of criteria rather than working with staff to identify, unpack, plan and practise the actions that will have the greatest impact on their practice.
Assistant Principal at Torquay Academy, Harrison Littler, with his Codimg Premium licence
In place of this approach, we have embraced the incremental coaching model used by, among others, the Uncommon Schools network in the United States, as referenced in books such as Leverage Leadership and Get Better Faster. We have learned a lot from practices in the United States in terms of the way we approach coaching as a vehicle for teacher improvement and have worked to tailor it to our context. To complete the alternative approach, and nurture a culture of collaboration and personal growth, we have taken the decision to completely separate performance management processes from coaching.
In sports coaching, improvement is brought about by isolating specific skills which can be targeted as a focus for deliberate practise or drilling. This is a model which can be equally applied to the craft of teaching, where the outcome is a set of specific action steps. These can then be practised and refined, as opposed to a piece of paper to be filed, or a judgement to be recorded.
Coaching meetings are quicker and much more purposeful. I am improving on very small aspects of my practice. Reece Broome – Head of Physics
The Teach Like a Champion template created in Codimg that is used for teacher coaching analysis
In order for coaching to be precise and consistent in a profession like teaching, it requires a clear framework that can be understood and shared with all stakeholders in the process. As a result, we have adopted the excellent framework for analysing the craft of teaching as set out in the book Teach Like a Champion 2.0 (TLAC) by Doug Lemov. This has provided us with a common language to describe what takes place in the classroom and supports coaches in identifying and analysing discrete areas for development.
Our Commitment to Coaching
Our vision is that every member of staff receives world-class precision coaching every week. This requires a significant investment of time from staff with leadership responsibilities in the school. For us, harnessing the power of video is critical to achieving truly world class coaching and making the best use of this time investment. Our experience so far is that the frequent use of video analysis significantly enhances the precision and quality of coaching conversations in teaching.
One of the clearest benefits of using video in this context is that it provides a clear and objective record of what takes place in the classroom. Unlike coaching in other areas like sport, in teaching the coaching conversations rarely take place immediately after the practice is observed. Teachers are busy people and coaching time is squeezed between lessons, marking and planning. The result is a delay between lesson observations and coaching conversations. Sometimes this is a few hours and in other cases they may be separated by a day or more. Having the accurate record of a lesson that video provides helps to overcome the inevitable difficulties teachers and coaches have in recalling precisely what was said and done.
The video allows me (and the coach) to be objective about our analysis. The analysis is backed with first-hand evidence to discuss. The video also provides context to the episode you are both watching – you can clearly see behaviours/lesson content which offers another discussion point that would have been lost otherwise. Reece Broome – Head of Physics
Harrison Litter and Reece Broom using Codimg to review the lesson analysis during their coaching session
The precision offered by video footage is important to the process. Coaches don’t need to scribble down phrases used by a teacher or try to construct an approximation of what a teacher has said, as there is a clear verbatim record to hand. Focusing in on the language we use as teachers is common in coaching. For example, we might look at a teacher’s‘rollout’ of an activity, consider the clarity of an explanation, or the language a teacher has used in tackling a behaviour issue. The exact phrasing and language used, as well as tone, is much easier to scrutinise and improve when captured on film.
I have found the use of video during coaching sessions extremely helpful as it gives me a students’ perspective on the lesson. It makes it much easier to pinpoint specific examples of good practice with different TLAC strategies tagged. This also means I don’t need to rely on memory. It also makes it much easier to see areas for improvement for myself, which gives me a greater sense of ownership over the coaching sessions and my own development as a teacher. Dr Neil Jones – English Teacher and KS5 English Coordinator
Codimg and Codimg View
Codimg is a tool which allows us to be much more targeted and precise in our analysis of teaching practice, by seamlessly joining up the video with the framework used to analyse it. A key benefit of the software to us is that it allows us to overlay the Teach Like a Champion framework onto the teaching practice we see in our classrooms. This means that the software is tailored to our needs, as we are targeting exactly those techniques which we are looking to refine the use of in the classroom.
Harrison Littler taking Codimg View and the iPad tripod to the next lesson
Logistically this is pretty straightforward to use. We use the Codimg View app on an iPad Pro to capture video. This is mounted on a tripod which is lightweight and mobile. This means coaches can deploy it anywhere in the school without having to ask IT for help in setting it up. We also avoid the need for a whole class to move to a specially kitted out room. The only additional bits of kit we use are a Rode directional microphone and an iOgrapher case to hold all the other bits together on the mount.
Codimg View on an iPad using an iOgrapher case and Rode microphone to improve filming quality
Coaches use the software to tag the video by tapping on one of the wide range of descriptors we have created within the Teach Like a Champion template in the app. These are used to indicate a great example of a technique in action or a possible area for development. This has replaced the scribbled tally charts in a notebook which counted up instances of techniques being used but could offer no depth on the specifics.
I like the fact that the conversations are often structured by the TLAC techniques I am using. For example, coaching meetings often open up with ‘I really liked this use of cold call…’. Reece Broome – Head of Physics
The next stage of the process is to wirelessly transfer the video of typically 12 to 15 minutes onto a laptop, so we can use Codimg Premium to analyse the footage. The video file is quickly exported from the app to the programme on the laptop and opens up in analysis mode, with the full range of functions available. Clicking on the tags now brings up the corresponding clips. Each clip plays from 10 seconds prior to the moment the video was tagged, so that you can see that build up to each key moment without having to edit it.
Transferring the video and analysis from Codimg View into Codimg over a wireless network
Coaches can then use the presentation function to generate a sequence of tagged clips which can be quickly navigated during a coaching meeting. Clips can be added to the presentation at the click of a button and the order can be shifted around, so that you can maximize the 15 minutes or so of feedback with a teacher and quickly zero in on the most important seconds of footage.
I am really enjoying coaching with the video analysis. It has enabled me to reflect upon my lessons and in particular, small snapshots of moments in the lesson. I have been able to identify my strengths and weaknesses in TLAC strategies and to quickly and effectively implement changes to adapt my practice. Keeley Kay – KS3 Science Lead
A final useful tool with Codimg is the matrix function. This plots the different tags in a matrix of possible teaching techniques that could have been used. It offers a useful profile of an individual teacher’s techniques within a lesson or across a series of lessons. Tags can also be searched across all the videos captured, providing a catalogue of examples of classroom practice that can be deployed in teacher training at a later date.
The impact of Codimg has been to sharpen the precision of our coaching meetings and to stimulate a deeper self-reflection from our staff. Watching short teaching episodes from your own lessons is always a powerful self-evaluation tool, but the way in which Codimg allows us to seamlessly integrate the TLAC framework through tagging and cataloguing all of the footage we capture makes this much more meaningful. Our coaching feedback model follows a consistent four-step approach called ASAP:
ASAP Model – Harnessing the power of incremental coaching
Codimg’s real value is added in the first two steps. Recognising the positive elements of a teacher’s practice is the way all coaching conversations open. The ability to play back key moments to illustrate these makes this part of the conversation more genuine and immediate. It also helps teachers to reinforce and dial up the positive areas of practise if they see them from an observer’s perspective.
Harrison Littler modelling a TLAC technique before Reece Broome puts into practice
When it comes to the scrutiny element of the conversation, there is something really powerful about both coach and ‘coachee’scrutinising the same objective record. Without video analysis, the reality is that they are having parallel conversations. Any given moment of a lesson is unavoidably mediated by their own perception and memory. A clear record puts both coach and ‘coachee’ onto the same page and ensures the conversation can move straight into the analysis of what is in front of them.
Coaching has been enormously powerful for me to challenge my current practice; an opportunity that would never arise without the video. For example, my coach recently played back a short clip and asked ‘Do you notice anything in this clip?’ The main discussion point was about my Cold Call and the way I named students to answer before asking questions. Initially, I wasn’t able to pick this out from the video because I am so used to my current practice, but watching it back now it seems so obvious. It takes you out of your comfort zone, but in a way that is leading to significant improvements in your teaching. Reece Broome – Head of Physics
We’re currently running a pilot for video coaching with a small group of staff. Ultimately, we want all staff to benefit from video coaching, but we’re not rushing to make this happen. The software has so much to offer and we’ve been working over the last few months to explore all of the ways it can be used and adapted to improve classroom practice. We don’t want to introduce it to staff half-baked.
Video coaching makes it much easier to review how successfully I have been implementing suggestions for future improvement. I would say because of these reasons, the use of video has definitely had a positive and beneficial impact on coaching sessions and my development. Dr Neil Jones – English Teacher and KS5 English Coordinator
Teach Like a Champion Template for Behaviour
We are continually tweaking the Teach Like a Champion template of descriptors we can use to tag lesson footage and are considering using separate templates with a focus on, for example, routines and behaviour, so that we can be more targeted still. We’re also working to refine the whole process and ensure that interaction between our current coaching model and the use of video is smooth and efficient. These small changes will make it much easier for coaches to learn how to use the system effectively and ensure it has an immediate impact.
To learn more about the Teach Like a Champion practices and see examples of how they are used at Torquay Academy, read this blog interview to see Steve Margetts (Torquay Academy Principal) describe how the techniques are used and the impact it has within the school.
You can also read our previous blog about How to Use Video Analysis in Education.
To dive in and gain the most information, watch this free webinar with Harrison and the Torquay Academy team about the evolution of their video analysis processes, along with the ‘How’s’ and ‘Why’s’ of video coaching: