In our previous three posts, we have discussed my own personal struggles with the teacher observation process, creating an environment where teachers self reflect, and sharing a wonderful resource called the Best Foot Forward Project from the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University. Properly evaluating teachers where a focus is on concrete evidence (video) can be a difficult transition for many schools and organizations. Why? Mostly it’s because it is not the norm in education and/or is not what they currently do.
To me, all decisions come down to purpose. In the words of Simon Sinek in his wonderful book Start with Why: “For great leaders, The Golden Circle is in balance. They are in pursuit of WHY, they hold themselves accountable to HOW they do it, and WHAT they do serves as the tangible proof of what they believe.” If you haven’t heard about Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, below is a 3:40 clip of him explaining it:
So what exactly is iAspire Reflect? iAspire Reflect is a simple-to-use software that allows educators to quickly upload video, add tags to the video (questioning, lesson objective, etc), share videos with colleagues, and search using a variety of criteria. iAspire Reflect also allows you to create a video library of the very best teaching in your organization.
The why behind iAspire Reflect is to help create an environment where self-reflection and observations based on concrete evidence becomes the norm. I think about the professional athletes of the world and how often they watch game film. Being from Indiana (although a Chicago Bears Fan…), I have to make a reference to Peyton Manning, arguably one of the best football players of all time. It was not Peyton’s elite athleticism that separated him from other quarterbacks. It was his ability and initiative to prepare for opponents that set him apart. Peyton spent countless hours watching game film. He reviewed each practice and game from multiple angles, identifying what the opponents were doing, their tendencies, and determining a plan based on what he saw. He didn’t rely solely on his memory or what his coach told him to do. Instead, he took complete and total ownership of the entire process and grounded his decisions in concrete evidence – what the “tape” showed him. Here is an article from the New York Post on Peyton’s video prowess. He was a machine when it came to preparation and watching video.
In an education environment, video observations allow the teacher and/or other educator to watch a clip, rewind, and watch again. What specific behaviors were most effective for the teacher, and how do you know? What exactly did the students do and say as a result of the teacher actions? This is where recording and watching a lesson becomes extremely powerful.
Another why behind iAspire Reflect is to help alleviate some of the struggles that I faced when observing teachers. No need to rehash all the struggles – you can read them again here. Without something concrete, I would not be able to provide the specific actions or dialogue for everything that happened, the teacher would be basing his/her reflections on what he/she remembered, and my own filters would be a barrier to what I was able to capture and document.
As we have been developing iAspire Reflect for teacher observations using video, we have had the privilege to speak with schools across the country to gain their input on our development. When we discussed our idea for iAspire Reflect, about 95% have been very intrigued and excited by the possibility. In fact, most of the final responses from these conversations sounded a lot like this: “Can I try it?” or “How can I get started with this?”.
To learn more, please visit www.iaspireapp.com/reflect