As part of its implementation of the Common Core State Standards, the New York State Department of Education created a video library of high-quality examples of teaching and learning aligned to the new standards. SchoolWorks played a key role in helping identify exemplary teachers and examples of instruction for the EngageNY website.
“The Board of Regents had a very clear vision of what Common Core instruction should look like, and the goal was to develop videos that reflected that vision,” says SchoolWorks Project Manager Robin Coyne Hull. “Our job was to interpret that vision.”
As envisioned by state leaders, the EngageNY website needed to include video examples of teachers from every region of the state, every grade level and content area, as well as school leadership and examples of data-driven instruction. “All told, there were 400 different [criteria],” says Hull.
In early 2013, Hull and SchoolWorks Project Manager Beth Friedman developed a scouting process to identify teachers, then reached out to more than 110 districts statewide to identify schools willing to be scouted for teachers and school leaders well-versed in the Common Core.
Once teachers were identified, SchoolWorks brought together a team of consultants with a broad range of expertise across different subjects and grade levels to serve as “virtual coaches” during the videotaping process. Coaches would work with teachers to identify and refine lesson plans, collaborating with NYSED officials to ensure they captured a specific element of the Common Core. As they prepared to videotape each lesson, SchoolWorks coaches had between six and 20 touches with the participating teacher, helping ensure the resulting videos were of high quality and aligned with the principles of Common Core instruction. Once the videos were shot, SchoolWorks consultants helped identify the most important footage to include in each lesson.
To date, more than 150 educators in 20 districts, including more than 50 principals, assistant principals, and teacher leaders, have been videotaped, yielding more than 200 video clips for EngageNY. The website has emerged not only as a key resource for New York teachers, but also has become one of the nation’s leading Common Core resources.
A side effect of the coaching process that was part of the videotaping was the reflection and refined practice it fostered among participants. “It was a really positive secondary impact,” Hull says, pointing to survey results showing that educators valued the process. “Going through the process of planning a lesson and examining it from many angles… was helpful in considering my teaching decisions and helped me think critically about my teaching/planning decisions across all areas,” one teacher said in the survey.