We recently had the chance to interview Karen Ritter, assistant principal for teaching & learning at Leyden High School District 212 in the Chicago area to learn how Sibme has been utilized at East Leyden high school during the 2014-15 school year to support their professional learning process.
How long have you been an educator, and why did you go into the field of education?
I have been an educator for 19 years, beginning as a French teacher for 11 years and 8 years in administration. I decided to go into education because I have always enjoyed helping others.
Had you ever videotaped your teachers and used it to enhance your professional learning process before using Sibme?
I had not used video before using Sibme. Video is so valuable and powerful to teachers who want to use it as a way to reflect upon and develop their practice. I use video with many new teachers, so they can see the same lesson that I am seeing when I visit their classrooms. I find that our discussions about the lesson are much richer, and we often agree on positive aspects of their teaching and areas needing improvement.
Why do you think videotaping teachers has the potential to improve teaching practice?
It absolutely has the potential to improve teaching. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. For example, a teacher may set up a lesson to include student discussion or collaboration and think that it’s happening effectively because they hear lots of buzzing and talking during class. But when they watch the video and notice that several students are not saying a word, that message comes across loud and clear to the teacher that they have to find a different strategy that includes ALL students. Video can be another set of eyes in the classroom, which can be helpful when a teacher is focused on the task at hand. It is a great way to reflect on your teaching and find ways to improve.
When it comes to recording, hosting, sharing, and streaming video there are different solutions. Why did you choose Sibme?
Sibme has a lot of great qualities. I like the Huddles that can be set up and shared among teachers of a specific department, new teachers, or teachers looking to learn new strategies. It is a safe, non-threatening way to share video. Sibme allows the teacher to share clips of video or the whole video, and others are able to comment on the video. It’s a great way to share ideas, collaborate, and turn the profession into one that fosters a community of learners as opposed to teachers who are isolated in their practice.
What is your favorite Sibme feature?
I would have to say the Huddles, as they are a great way to organize, share, and comment on videos. I also like how simple it is to share videos, simply by adding a user’s email address. It is very user-friendly, and uploading videos is very easy. It takes away some of the technology intimidation that some teachers have, and can make them more willing to use video and share it if it’s not complicated.
As you move forward as a program, how do you intend to leverage the Sibme platform with your current professional learning process?
We have teachers who love using video. The next step is to get people comfortable enough with it to share it in their content area team meetings and really improve practice by doing lesson study, giving and receiving feedback in a non-threatening way, and offering it to share with new teachers. We are organizing an “Innovation Team” next year, where teachers from various content areas will work together on using more innovative strategies to take teaching to the next level. Using video will be one of the required activities of this team, so they can see how innovation can be applied in various content areas. We will use it to share how they are using agile learning spaces to increase student engagement and voice. We even have administrators wanting to use video to improve their presentation skills, interview skills, or coaching discussions. Many of the administrators are willing to share our own videos and reflect on our own practice, so we can model what we would like our teachers to do!
If you were to give any advice to instructional leaders who are considering implementing video-enhanced professional learning into their teacher development process, what would you say?
Go for it! I think new and tenured teachers can all benefit from video-enhanced professional learning. It is worth the investment and really puts the learner in charge of their own professional learning.