As Featured in EdWeek:
Across the PD landscape, video repositories are emerging with claims that they can provide quality professional development that is both cheap and effective. In many cases, none of the above is true. In fact, many of these sites are becoming dumping grounds for mediocre ideas and wasted professional development dollars. These are dollars that could, and should, be spent on coaching and mentoring programs. These programs have been proven time and again to both enhance teacher satisfaction (Edwards, Green, Lyons, et al., 1998) and improve student achievement (Wenglinsky, 2000).
Why shouldn’t you spend money on vetted and filtered content available in many of these video repositories? The answer is simple. Think about it, Twitter, YouTube, Podcasts, Pinterest, Khan Academy, TeacherTube, Facebook, and Google are existing repositories where educators are already freely sharing ideas and best practice. Furthermore, these sources are unfiltered and unvetted; which, believe it or not, is a great thing! It’s great because educators are able to engage in the thoughtful consideration and professional dialogue that is necessary to discern whether or not the examples they find align with the mission and vision of their district, school, or classroom. This sort of filtering and discernment embodies exactly the kinds of 21st century skills we are trying to cultivate in our students.
Furthermore, we should be devoting energy and resources to those things we know will move the academic needle for kids. Simply put, those things include high quality professional development accompanied by consistent coaching and mentoring. We know very little about these video sites and the claims they make. On the contrary, we know a great deal about coaching and it’s impact on both students and teachers. Here are a few of the things we know to be true:
Believe it or not, some will read this and still choose to pay for monthly and yearly “premium” memberships to video sites for educators. We can only speculate as to why. But if I had to venture a guess, I would argue many hope these videos will act as replacements for professional development and robust classroom coaching. Unfortunately, this is the same logic that led some to believe that video and computer technology would ultimately replace the classroom teacher. In fact, we know this could not be further from the truth. The same is true for coaching as it is the classroom. Education is about people. It is about relationships. We move closer to excellence when we increase the points of connectivity between learners and thought leaders. Can this include video content? Absolutely it can. But should it exclude real people doing the real work of coaching and mentoring? Ask yourself if you’re willing to replace your child’s classroom teachers with a cache of video content; and then give me your answer.