Using Video Data to Build Hope & Agency

What the Research Says about Building Hope and Improving Teacher Agency

Insights from Education Researcher Jim Knight

By Adam Geller, Edthena

Teachers need hope and agency to be successful.

But building hope and cultivating agency can be challenging, especially given the stressors teachers face today. It can be hard for teachers to stay optimistic and driven when they are feeling burned out.

Jim Knight, a respected researcher and author of multiple books, including The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching: Seven Factors for Success, suggests turning to data to help. Yes, data.

Adam Geller Founder & CEO, Edthena

Adam Geller
Founder & CEO, Edthena

In a recent conversation I had with Knight, he detailed how data from video observation and reflection can help teachers understand the reality of their teaching, set instructional goals, and see the progress they are making toward those goals. This data-driven, reflective process goes a long way in helping teachers be successful, while helping to combat feelings of fatigue.

Watch it here:

Below is a summary of the conversation with thoughts from Knight:

Why is data so important for educators’ professional growth?

Data makes the invisible visible. It can bring hope to educators because it helps them see a goal. Understanding what one’s teaching goal is and what one wants to strive for is really powerful. The clearer the goal, the more powerful it is.

But hope also involves agency, a belief that one can hit the goal. Data can show educators that they are making progress.

Teresa Amabile talks a lot about the importance of making progress in The Progress Principle. For educators and students alike, it is motivating to see progress being made and to have data showing that you are headed in the right direction.

Why should video be used to collect classroom data?

I really believe strongly in the power of recording and watching classroom video. While it can be imperfect, video is the most efficient and powerful form of data because it allows educators to really see what’s happening in the classroom. It helps them cut through their preceptors and defense mechanisms when it comes to their teaching.

One of the stories I tell is about a teacher who had seven multi-linguistic students in her class. When she watched video of her teaching, she realized none of those seven students were answering a question. All of a sudden, students who hadn’t been seen were seen.

When reflected on, video-based classroom data can help educators build hope and agency. It can also help educators see students who otherwise would be invisible, which, to me, is possibly the most powerful reason to use it.

How can instructional coaches help teachers during the process?

It can initially be difficult for educators to look at themselves and see where they are when they want to grow. It is easy to hide from reality. However, reflecting upon classroom video data, oftentimes with the help of a learning partner like a coach, can help teachers increase their efficacy and be successful.

Coaches can help bring hope. They can help teachers be clear on their goal. And, coaches can help teachers identify a pathway to that goal, gather data, and see their progress being realized, all as teachers are building agency.

Want to learn and hear more? You can watch the full conversation with Knight here.

Adam Geller is the author of Evidence of Practice: Playbook for Video-Powered Professional Learning and founder of Edthena, a company that builds video-powered professional learning tools for teachers. Jim Knight is a research associate at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning and the president of the Instructional Coaching Group.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

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