Michelle Bigony is a first-year Spanish teacher at Delcastle Technical High School in Wilmington, Delaware. While math and English teachers can learn from several teachers at their school, language teachers are often one of a few. Additionally, instructional coaches or school leaders might not understand the language and struggle to provide instructional feedback. This describes Michelle’s experience, which made her eager to improve by watching other Spanish teachers’ lessons. Using SmarterCookie, she was able to share videos with other Spanish teachers near and far to collect ideas for her own classroom. One video she watched was particularly inspiring for her: Pati, a Spanish teacher at a different school, asked her students to act out a funny play, which kept her students fully engaged and practicing the language. Michelle looks forward to implementing a similar activity in her own classroom. She continues to ask other Spanish teachers, even those who taught her Spanish, to record their lessons so she can become the best Spanish teacher for her students.
Travis Rodgers is a first-year first-grade teacher at Glenmount Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland. The first time he recorded a video of his instruction, he immediately saw how it helped him stay attuned to his students’ perception of the lesson. He now records lessons consistently, and sometimes, he even involves his students in the process. As a class, they watch a clip of a video of a lesson, and students self-reflect on how they could improve their own contribution as a member of the class. To explain the camera to his students at the beginning of the year, Travis told his students, “We are the best class in Baltimore, and other students want to learn from our example.” Travis also enjoys seeing how far his students and his own practice have come by using SmarterCookie to compare videos from earlier on in the year to now.
Chris Jennings is a first-year science teacher at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, Maryland. He considers himself fortunate to receive a ton of feedback both on SmarterCookie and in-person from mentors and coaches. At first, he only recorded video of his instruction because it was required by his graduate program, but he soon began to record more often and upload to SmarterCookie to enable him to break down instruction minute-by-minute. For Chris, both video and feedback is not about criticism; instead, it allows him and his coaches to identify what’s going well and areas where he can improve for his students.
It’s true: new teachers are learning how to stay above water, but they also have a keen sense of the most effective levers that move their instruction forward. For these three first-year teachers and others, video is the tool that has helped them make huge leaps in the classroom.
- Tess Brustein, SmarterCookie CEO & Co-founder