Dr Sean Warren is ONVU Learning’s Teacher Development Lead. As well as developing the company’s bespoke coaching methodology called Align, he works with teachers coaching them over remote sessions, making use of classroom video to inform their discussions. In this piece he discusses his experiences of remote teacher coaching.
What are the biggest benefits from remote teacher coaching and support?
Remote teacher training and support open up a whole new horizon. It has proved to be an efficient mechanism to collaborate with busy colleagues. The ability to review footage provides a time and space to attune to events on the screen, allowing thoughts and questions to bubble up to shape and stimulate subsequent dialogue.
How is remote teacher coaching different to face-to-face coaching?
It is fair to say that I have had to find ways of adapting to communicating remotely. Although conferencing tools such as Skype or Zoom negate the hassle of travel and minimise the inconvenience of sessions being cut short or cancelled at the last minute, it cannot replicate the connection you feel when physically sharing space with someone. There is a necessity to be more alert to body language and facial cues, and a requirement to negotiate the silences without feeling a compulsion to immediately fill it. Ideally, I advocate having at least one meeting in person prior to embarking on a remote relationship. However, I have found that when this is not possible, as in the case of me remote coaching colleagues at The Doon School in India, it is still possible to strike up rapport even across several time zones. It seems that mutual trust and respect is not limited by the necessity to have an internet connection!
How have your ideas about lesson observation developed over the past 3 years?
The methodology I adopted to deconstruct and articulate my own practice has been developed and refined due to the opportunities of working with colleagues, both in person and remotely. It remains a privilege to review a colleague’s lesson and I am in no doubt that the process of trying to capture the dynamics and decipher the complexity unfolding on the screen in front of me is the very best professional learning I have encountered. Instead of sitting in the back of a classroom trying to be inconspicuous, like what traditional lesson observation does, I now have the luxury of selecting multiple screens to pursue emerging themes and perspectives. I have embraced the notion of “Professional Noticing” to enhance my approach and continue to explore ways to develop and apply this rich concept to the reality of classroom life.
How does the 360-degree view of the Lessonvu camera help you?
The beauty of the Lessonvu system is it allows me to review all and any aspect [of the lesson] retrospectively. Previously when I used a conventional camera to record a session, I had to predetermine the parameters of the clip by setting up the camera to face in a certain direction or trained on a certain group or individual. Anything that happened outside of that boundary was not captured for subsequent review and analysis. The capacity to now select a random student retrospectively in order to examine their unique experience of the lesson under review, is always revealing. Intriguingly, changing the view on a different student in the very same lesson can produce a completely different perspective. I love this joint journey of discovery with the host teacher!
Read more about our work with The Doon School and other partner schools that have experienced and benefitted from using remote coaching and Lessonvu, by visiting the evidence page. We are continuously working with our partner schools, as you can see on the Future of Teacher Training page. Make sure to sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest news straight into your inbox, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest updates.
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