Remote Instruction & Professional Development
Teaching from Home: How Distanced Teaching Creates PD Needs and Opportunities
Most K-12 educators are still
not ready to teach online. It would be foolhardy to overlook this
In order for students to have
successful learning experiences online, their teachers need support
for teaching online.
In order for teachers to be successful
with this new model of teaching, they need immediate and ongoing
professional development for facilitating high-quality distanced
With a plan, it’s easy to gather
the evidence of distanced teaching
No matter the particular set of tools
or process your district uses for distanced learning, it is almost
certain there will be instruction from teachers and feedback to
students. Online video in various forms is central to this process.
Everyone should capture and save these
learning episodes. Only with artifacts in-hand can we help teachers
assess how they’re doing with this new style of teaching.
If your teachers use synchronous
virtual learning spaces, record the sessions.
If your teachers pre-record flipped
lessons, save the videos.
If your teachers host online office
hours for students via web meeting software, record the meetings.
If your teachers are holding conference
calls with students, record the calls.
Waiting till the end of the year to see
if this rapid switch to distanced learning impacted instructional
quality is unfair to students. It’s a post mortem on the
learning opportunities they need from their schools today in order to
stay on track for becoming career and college-ready.
Use videos to reflect about distanced
teaching to drive continuous professional learning
You may be worried that this feels like
too much change at once. But is our alternative to do nothing to
support teachers with this new challenge?
In good news, using video reflection as
a tool for teacher learning is a well established practice. Decades
of academic research underpin the idea that teachers watching videos
of their teaching episodes can help them implement and sustain
And just as teaching online requires a
shift, providing feedback on videos of learning episodes requires
different skills than in-person observation, too.
In my book Evidence of Practice,
I synthesize existing research about modes of
interacting with video evidence as the five
Spot helps the observer
discern a moment, an interaction, or a pattern of behavior as
Break Down supports the
observer to decompose teaching and learning into component parts
Interpret focuses the
observer on why something has happened in order to uncover
Compare encourages the
observer to highlight the similarities and differences between two
moments in time or two representations of the same learning
Discuss is the technique
that encourages analyzing teaching with others to elicit new
These techniques are similar to the
five-step lesson plan for sharing understanding about what should be
happening. The five focusing techniques provide a shared set of
vocabulary for how to interact with video episodes in order to drive
This is all to say that there is a
proven way to provide professional learning to teachers during this
transition. The toolsets are potentially the same as “video
coaching” or “video analysis” structures your district may have
already considered or have in place.
Whether you’re analyzing video of
in-person teaching or online facilitation, the benefits are the same.
Geller is the author of Evidence
and the founder of Edthena,
a video-powered professional learning platform for analyzing video
evidence with timestamped comments and streamlining video content
management. Adam began his education career as a science teacher in
St. Louis, Mo.