Impact Of Video Peer Coaching On Teaching Practice

Ian Dickinson, Principal Pigeon Mountain Primary School (PMPS), New Zealand, explains about the program and its impact.

Pigeon Mountain School in Auckland New Zealand has 650 students and a strong team of teachers striving to develop their self-evaluative capacity. With an existing coaching program introduced by Principal and GCI Accredited coach Ian Dickinson, and classroom video already in place for gathering evidence of the professional growth and goalsetting, the school is now integrating the two into a Video Enhanced Peer Coaching Program (VEPC).

The school is using video-enhanced peer coaching as a means to deepen reflective practice and to meet the changing professional learning and certification requirements of the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand in an authentic way.

Conscious that the use of video as a coaching tool has big potential, the school has developed a professional growth cycle built around its use. This was initially implemented on a small scale with a number of teachers to refine the processes. Principal Ian Dickinson says “we were so impressed with the impact and reflective practice of the teachers in the trial that we were able to develop school-wide professional development from it. We subsequently built a series of steps surrounding the Impact Cycle which puts our teachers at the centre of their professional growth, and in a position to explore the impact their practice has on learner outcomes”.

One of the first outcomes staff noticed was the effectiveness of video in enabling teachers to refine their initial “hunches” about their practice. Through conversation with a coaching partner, each teacher had developed a notion of where their own personal area of development may be. Watching the video of their teaching, followed by a peer guided coaching session, has proven to be a valuable way to refine existing hunches and establish accurate next steps. Alongside this, collaboratively developed effective practice checklists are evolving, which are used as a starting point for describing learning and improving teaching to elevate outcomes.

The school has implemented this in the context of recent changes by the Teaching Council of Aotearoa and New Zealand relating to the benefits of appraisal systems and implementation of a Teacher Professional Growth Cycle. The slide below shows the two main elements that teachers now need to focus on.

One is for the renewal of practising certificate. Staff at Pigeon Mountain have worked collaboratively to generate ‘forms of naturally occurring evidence’ for each of the 6 Standards of the Teaching Profession.

This has empowered teachers to identify things they will see/hear/feel simply by being a great teacher at PMPS, rather than a system based on top-down accountability where teachers curate piles of evidence simply to tick a compliance box.

The second main element Inquiry into Practice is elaborated in the second slide, below, showing how seamlessly inquiry integrates with video enhanced peer coaching. The graphic, which is a work in progress, shows where VEPC supports teachers to develop authentic inquiries into practice, to explore what is mutually agreed to be authentic practice in different areas of pedagogy and to align pre-existing use of the GROWTH coaching model as the vehicle for professional growth.

The school is currently well into the coaching and personal inquiry phase, with teachers utilising their collaboratively built collection of effective practice checklists. A number of teachers are already seeking to record newer teaching sessions to see what progress they’ve made against their goals, demonstrating the self-motivation and ownership that has come about.

This capacity of video as a tool for disproving (or in some cases, reinforcing) teachers’ hunches remains its most useful feature to date. The coaching session begins with an initial exploration of the hunch, followed by the video recording. Reflection and coaching post video is often a revelation, enabling teachers to refine their thinking about the aspects of their practice they intend to explore, all the while maintaining a focus on a better understanding of their impact on student outcomes. These sessions have been insightful and provide the coachee with clarity. Teachers have also commented positively about their experience of being an active participant, as opposed to being merely a passenger, in the process of observation/appraisal.

Teachers Caitlin Myers (left) and Amanda Lee (right) discuss their experience of the program here.

With permission from teachers, both coaching videos and teaching videos have also been used in a number of situations to help provide examples of good practice and to develop capacity in aspects of teaching and coaching.