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Viewing from a New Perspective: A Renewed Approach to Video-based Professional Development

Benjamin Ching

Practice Brief - A Renewed Approach to Video-based Professional Development
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Ching, B. (2022). Practice brief: Viewing from a new perspective: A renewed approach to video-based professional development . Academy for Leadership in Teacher Education.
Research Brief: Empowering Teachers to Enhance Student Learning

In the 2019-20 academic year, the then English Department panel head completed the Stanford Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET) course on eliciting student thinking and was introduced to the idea of utilising video for professional development (PD). The idea of filming, analysing, selecting and sharing lesson observation videos seemed like a natural progression for the sustainability of any subject-specific PD efforts, and with the long-established efficacy of the practice in mind, department-wide implementation was initiated. Frontline teachers saw this as a means to reflect on their own teaching, as well as a way to share experience and expertise across the department. Department members were asked to film a five-minute video on any area they ‘needed help with’ and upload it to a video annotation platform, where all department members were to leave comments and suggestions for improvement.

Needless to say, the efficacy of this initial implementation of the initiative was lacklustre. There was no clear focus, no follow-up, and it was a lot of work for very little benefit. Under new headship the following year, ‘PD trios’ were introduced, composed of teachers of different levels of experience. Each trio had a single content and pedagogical focus, and they were encouraged to meet for discussions and develop their lessons before filming. This paved the way for comparative video study and more in-depth analysis of the lesson videos, yet the benefits were limited to the members of each individual trio, and ultimately, the focus was still on the shortcomings of the teachers.

A Video-based Workshop

Figure 1: A Video-based Workshop

The Video-based Core Practices Directives course offered by the University of Hong Kong effectively helped the school fill in the gaps in our programme. There were key differences that made for a more effective and sustainable approach:

  • having a single content and pedagogical focus for the whole department, while keeping the PD trios – in our case, the teaching of grammar through the use of talk moves;

  • a clear timeline for teachers to develop, film and refilm their lessons to increase the level of comfort towards sharing their videos;

  • the use of discourse analysis software and teaching and learning effectiveness surveys to produce tangible, purposeful data to inform instruction; and

  • finally, a video club/workshop to share best practices utilising some of the identified exemplar videos, with the aim of encouraging teachers to adopt and experiment with new teaching approaches in their own lessons.

Video Analysis

Figure 2: Video Analysis

Discussion Task Sheet

Figure 3: Group Discussion Task Sheet

The data collected allowed for a more objective approach to analysing classroom discourse and overall efficacy. By measuring the teacher/student talking turns and the teachers’ utilisation of different talk moves, meaningful comparisons could be made, for both between teachers and pre- and post-workshop performance for individual teachers. Coupled with the survey data on the perceived performance of the teachers themselves and their students, it provided useful insight as to which instructional approach allowed for more effective learning. The workshop served as a means to highlight particularly effective pedagogical practices, and the viewing activities, transcript analyses and group discussions themselves helped train teachers to interact with video, allowing them to glean as much from the practice as possible at the lowest cost in terms of time and effort.

Survey (P.1)
Survey (2)

Figures 4 & 5: Self-evaluation Survey

With the underlying principles of video-based PD incorporated into our new programme, the outcome was an overwhelmingly positive evaluation of the initiative, with teachers showing gratitude and appreciation of what they had learnt, and more importantly, an eagerness to incorporate new practices in their own classrooms and have their own videos chosen for department-wide analysis during the next cycle. Teachers had found themselves improving on their own practice in the classroom, and with our PD focus, encouraged more abundant student thinking and better understanding of the content at hand. The new structure of the programme effectively decreased the discomfort typically associated with using video for PD, giving teachers the time and support needed to produce a video they were satisfied with, and the use of data to support findings made for a subjective approach to analysis. With more and more experienced teachers leaving the field in Hong Kong, the principles in practice and the practical considerations highlighted by the pilot programme will inform video-based PD efforts across all departments in the school.

Associate Editor: Monaliza M. Chian

Benjamin Ching

Benjamin Ching is the Co-head of English Department, HKUGA College. In his 8th year at HKUGA College, Ben’s role has revolved around the development of the English department as a Year-level Coordinator, to Senior-form Coordinator, and now the Co-head. As a member of the Philosophical Inquiry Committee, he works to implement and hardcode CSET practices into everyday teaching and learning.


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