Why school administrators need a bold plan for teacher support in 2022

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Swivl Co-Founder, Brian Lamb, walks us through the priorities for educators in 2022.


First came remote learning.

Teachers adapted to a new model of instruction in a matter of days.

But remote learning was followed by hybrid, and then a school year of quarantines, disrupted schedules, and stressful changes to everyday life.

Then came the after-effects.

From the pandemic and the public health response to it, students have experienced social isolation, too much screen time, and constant health scares for two years. Now, teachers are faced with the behavioural and mental health crises that come with it all. As they try to help students rebuild deteriorated essential competencies, they’re going to need help.

As administrators look ahead, teacher support can’t be business as usual. Weekly self-reflection and video coaching are essential aids for post-pandemic recovery.

And it all starts with a deep understanding of how we got here.


Screen time and isolation harmed essential student competencies

In America, a new study in JAMA Paediatrics revealed that adolescents’ screen time doubled during the pandemic. Excessive screen time coupled with decreased sleep is linked to children’s increased impulsive behaviour. Remote learning meant many students were socially isolated, contributing to soaring mental health issues. Unsurprisingly, the APA reported that four out of five teens experienced more stress during the pandemic in America. The CDC reported a 30% increase in mental health ER visits by children ages 12-17.

Social isolation and technology overstimulation has led to a decrease in two essential competencies: persistence and curiosity. These are the social emotional learning (SEL) competencies that have been directly tied to students’ academic success. The increase in behavioural issues that teachers are now dealing with makes helping students recover these competencies and other academic skills increasingly difficult.

The challenge teachers face in addressing students’ current needs is not more of what was already happening. It’s a new issue with a new cause, requiring a new response.


A scaffolded plan for robust teacher support

When teachers say, “we are not trained for this,” they mean it. Current classroom challenges are issues of classroom management. While there is nothing new about classroom management, the causes and manifestations of the problems are new.

The most powerful tool for making progress on classroom management is teacher self-reflection and coaching based on classroom videos.

Teacher support

Teams by Swivl makes it faster and easier for leaders to support teachers by encouraging self-reflection, facilitating peer & instructional coaching, and making observations an opportunity for growth.

First, teachers need to view their challenges outside of the in-the-moment stress of class. In other words, teachers need to reflect on their instruction videos whenever issues arise.

Then, teachers need support from colleagues and a clear elevation path to coaches. This empowers schools to solve problems and support teachers using the collective intelligence and resources they already have.

Lastly, administrators need to see what teachers are facing, give personalised feedback, and, in some cases, share evidence with experts. This involves some combination of virtual walkthroughs, remote observations, and sharing video clips with experts like school psychologists.

With schedules full and staff limited, how can administrators make a plan that seems to be asking everyone to do more? There’s good news: the tools exist for leaders ready to direct time and attention towards schools’ most significant challenges.


Video coaching powered by Teams is the missing link

For a robust system of teacher support that not only includes but also goes beyond the typical observations – tied to evaluation models and job contracts – video coaching is the flexible, scalable solution.

Teams by Swivl is the tool that can make this happen. Teams is a video reflection and collaboration system that allows educators to record, host, and share videos, then deep dive into the discussion with video analysis tools like time-stamped bookmarking and commenting with built-in rubric support.

For Instructional Coaches and Administrators, Teams by Swivl helps overcome the barriers of space and time by allowing coaching to happen either asynchronously with the recording or in real-time with live streaming. For teachers, it’s a place to securely store your content with the tools to bring value to regular self-reflection.

With Teams + Robots, administrators can use video coaching for teacher support with the classroom management challenges, new instructional environments, and other unique challenges. It starts with giving teachers time and space to think.


Part I: Teachers self-reflect with Teams and a phone

Many issues teachers and students face are time-sensitive. Teachers and administrators need to identify those issues quickly and create a plan to address them as soon as possible. One of the fastest ways to get objective evidence of what’s happening and improve the situation is self-reflection on classroom videos. Unlike other forms of professional development, reflection requires no additional personnel and can be done in various locations and at different times.

Video self-reflections can help teachers identify how they’ve dealt with difficult situations and how they may work through classroom management issues. Additionally, reviewing short moments of instruction in Teams can help teachers identify situations they haven’t been trained for and act as a catalyst to seek additional help or start conversations with colleagues or administrators.

Getting started with teacher video reflection can be simple: teachers can begin by propping up a cell phone, tablet or laptop near their desk and then reviewing the video in Teams at a convenient time.

Many schools realise that accelerating academic initiatives is not the top priority. This is the time to back off on asking teachers to work on new initiatives and give them time and space to reflect on their current responsibilities.


Part II & III: Teachers collaborate with peers and coaches

The best professional learning is often available from the teacher down the hall. When timetables are tight and travelling from classroom to classroom may be impractical, Teams can make peer collaboration feasible.

Teachers can connect with each other and instructional coaches by recording critical moments in class then discussing them through Teams. Research shows that collaboration improves student achievement when the discussion focuses on improving student outcomes. 

When the learning environment is in flux, teachers need to have a way to discover, share and implement best practices quickly. Ongoing discussion with colleagues and coaches centred around high-quality audio and video from the classroom is the most efficient, effective way to do this.


Part IV: Administrators offer support & feedback

Classroom video and asynchronous discussion can help administrators improve the quality and quantity of feedback to teachers while also making compliance easier.

According to Lamb, “One common thread of the hundreds of administrators I’ve spoken to throughout my career is the desire to give teachers more personalised support outside of mandated observations but struggling to make time for it.”

By using Teams + Robots for virtual walk-throughs, teachers in a year level, department, or school can all share short video clips with administrators through Teams and then receive feedback and hold written discussion afterwards. Others support new teachers and maintain their curriculum standards by collecting and responding to videos from teachers who teach the same course.

Teams + Robots can also empower administrators to conduct remote observations, either recorded or streamed, for those who have the flexibility and desire to do so. Remote comments are most effective when teachers select the lesson they stream or record multiple videos and share one of their choosing.

Teams by Swivl turns a post-observation discussion into a personalised, interactive, multimedia resource for professional learning.

In addition, to support teachers in need, video coaching helps directly address the moments that make teachers lament, “we are not trained for this.” Teams + Robot makes situations portable and consultable when students need support from outside experts.

In extreme cases, where a school psychologist or trauma-informed expert must be brought in, video coaching helps get students and teachers the help they need faster by clarifying the situation.


It’s time for schools to take essential steps forward

Regular self-reflection and video coaching help schools rebuild by giving teachers and students more support.

Through teacher self-reflection, peer collaboration and instructional coaching, teachers can improve classroom management and share best practices during a time of increased behavioural issues. Through virtual observations and walk-throughs, administrators can give personalised feedback at scale and better understand teachers’ challenges while saving time and ensuring compliance. Where necessary, schools can bring in trauma-informed experts to consult and coach on challenging situations documented through objective, high-quality audio and video.

In each of these cases, the written, time-stamped, professional conversation and the classroom’s high-quality audio and video recording are there for stakeholders to refer to. A one-time exchange becomes a chance for continuous growth.

While technology is often a contributor to modern problems, we must look for where it can provide solutions. Frequent video coaching means that school leaders can ensure teachers improve classroom management, students rebuild their most essential competencies, and everyone begins to take necessary steps forward as we enter the post-pandemic world.



The information in this blog is extracted from Swivl.


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