Well-known instructional coaching researcher Jim Knight believes video has the ability to paint a clearer picture of an educator’s classroom reality.  In part 2 of his 4-part PLTogether Lounge Talk conversation with Edthena CEO, Adam Geller, Jim provides evidence for why video is a powerful tool for inspiring improved classroom change.

Here is the transcript of the conversation.

– Welcome to PLtogether lounge talks. I’m Adam Geller, founder and CEO of Edthena. Today we’re talking with Jim Knight continuing the conversation with him about instructional coaching, and now one of his books and one of his ideas that he’s been talking about for quite some time the idea of using video within instructional coaching. Jim, thanks so much for joining us.

– It’s great to be here.

– So I know, your book is called Focus on Teaching. I wanna make sure to mention that. But you know, before we even get to the, what’s happening right now type context, why should video be part of professional learning and instructional coaching? If you’re someone out there that’s like, on the fence still about this idea?

– Well, I think the proof that it works is the fact that there probably isn’t a middle school football team in America where they are not watching video of their performance, and most performers, whatever the work is they do, they’re gonna look at what they do on video if involves movement, and we know that for a long time studies at Stanford in the 70s show the power of video, but it always used to be a real hassle. You had to have this big machine. Some kid had to show you how to use it. Then you had to go watch it in the staff lounge video because you’d plug it into something else. It was just such a hassle. Nobody wants to do it and was expensive to those cameras were like $3,000 and I knew about the power of video my friend Mike Hoke had done a study where he looked at tutors, and the tutors are trained in a research-based approach, evidence-based approach to help kids learn strategies as they as they did their homework, and what he saw was even though they had really great training, nobody did the evidence-based approach. They just sort of help the kids do their homework. So he created a checklist, and he video recorded the tutors, and when they watched the video, they’re there what they did totally changed. The other thing is there’s a whole number of reasons why we don’t have a clear vision of what we do perceptual errors like confirmation bias, and then we just have defense mechanisms that keep us from seeing reality the way it is, it would probably be too tough if every day we saw that sort of in its raw nakedness, exactly the things we’ve screwed up on. So how we do things like we blame other people and we minimize the problem and we make, for lack of better terms excuses, we have defense mechanisms. So when you combine perceptual errors like confirmation bias, stereotypes, and defense mechanisms, what we think is happening and what’s really happening are really quite different, and when you when you video record the class, you look at the video and often you go man, I hadn’t idea. I really I it’s kind of like when you hear your voice on a recording, if you haven’t heard it before, it sounds weird. It’s like that to the power of 10, and then the other thing is that because we don’t have a clear picture of reality, we don’t see the need for change often. We’ve minimized the problem or explain things away or we don’t see it clearly. So and motivation usually involves some kind of discrepancy between where we are and where we wanna get to, you know, this isn’t good enough, and I need to improve. So people are more motivated when they see reality because they go I want more of that or less of this, and what’s more, and ensures that they focus on the right things, and when you use video in coaching, it’s a dramatically different experience, because then you’re just helping the person hit their goal, as opposed to trying to force something on. I’ll just say one more thing. I can’t stop. We knew about the power of video. Michael could talk me, but we didn’t know what to do about it, and it was just too much of a hassle and then I was watching the World Cup in England was in soccer and England was playing somebody, and Mick Jagger was in the stands, and he had a flip camera, and when I saw that flip camera, I said we could do this and two weeks later, the coaches were working with from Oregon, they had a copy of they had their own flip camera and then we were off, and then of course, the iPhone came along and the cellphone technology, smartphones have kind of replaced the flip. But the flip camera was where we were Mick Jagger, he’s the reason why I wrote the book. That’s where it came from.

– This interview is about you not about me, but I love that actually, if somebody asked me how I got into what I did, I would the kind of edgy version of the story definitely involves a musician, but mine is Justin Bieber. So you know. Yeah, that’s a story for another day.

– Oh, let’s hear the Justin Bieber story.

– Oh, all right. All right,

– You can edit it if you don’t like it.

– No we’re not going to edit it out. So the aha moment for me realizing that you know, this is before I had ever met you or encountered your work right so i geez was this 2009 ish probably 2010 I know, back in the days when you had to send a link for something that was we didn’t have the phrase going viral I remember there was some blog article somewhere that was like listen to this Justin Bieber song slowed down 800 times, and really it wasn’t about the Justin Bieber it was just about the fact that on this webpage, they had embedded the SoundCloud player and I saw for the first time the idea of having a recorded artifact and having comments tied to a specific moment in time, which is what that SoundCloud SoundCloud player does, and that was really the aha moment. You know, maybe you didn’t need to have someone in the room in order or even synchronously be talking with an educator to help them understand what was happening in their practice. If you could put together the right tools with the video, you could enable coaching anytime, anywhere by anyone. So that’s how I ended up here. Talking to you so many years later.

– I’m seeing the generational thing here. You it’s Justin Bieber me it’s Mick Jagger. I think that’s that there’s clearly a generational issue going on here.

– At the time. I mean, I definitely have heard Justin Bieber songs at this point, but at the time, I would have told you I don’t think I’d heard a Justin Bieber song, except for that one. So I’m only halfway through that door. So get back on track here a little bit. You said you know that video, you have this phrase I know you say and you said 80% of it just a moment ago, which is video gives folks a clear picture of their current reality and I really like that phrase and like to credit you with it. You know, I’m curious as we do, think about how teaching has shifted, you know, why is the value of video in some ways increasing or even more of an obvious must have or why wouldn’t you have it for what instructional coaching will look like?

– Well, I think maybe the reason why people don’t wanna do it has to do with you know, those defense mechanisms. I mean, we think people lack courage, they don’t wanna see what they wanna do. But actually, defense mechanisms are really pretty helpful. Life is tough enough as it is, and if you had to carry around everything, every sort of negative thing, it could really be difficult, and so to protect ourselves, we have these defense mechanisms. But the trouble is to be the educator we wanna be, we have to get a clear picture of current reality. Charlene says, “our identity is the story we tell ourselves about who we are,” and so the deal is gonna mess with that story, and it’s gonna be hard when you have to change your story about who you are. I mean, it can be really hard. If you think back to a time where, you know, I had a time where I had a meeting with some good friends of mine, and I realized they saw me differently than I saw them, and it was, it took me days to get over that, you know, and I learned, but the thing is, then you learn from it, and you say, Oh, well, if I’m not the person, I think I am or if I’m not at least perceive that way, then I need to learn and learning really is about changing that story. To really feel efficacious, I think. You don’t get it by hiding from reality. You get it by cautiously entering into reality so you can get better. So that would be the way I would take it. I think, I think and I think there are times when you just say I’m not gonna read those evaluations today. I’m not gonna look at that because this is this not the day and other times you’re more capable of doing it, but you’re to really become a masterful at what you do, you probably have to see it. I mean every teacher should be watching the sales of it now I wouldn’t force it on people. To me, it’s a powerful tool for learning. I think I respect the discretion of a teacher to choose what, what they’re ready for, and what they wanna do. But I do believe to really get good at what you do you have to see it. It’s a critical thing.

– It also feels like right now with the adjustments to so many new types of what teaching means, there’s even more need for that kind of quick. That quick kind of merging between that story, you’re telling yourself about how things are going and what’s actually happening because, hey, a lot of us are doing it for the first time. It’s kind of the place that many educators are finding themselves.

– Right, really important, and yet, also scary. You know, I’ve never used this thing before and I’m gonna try to do it and parents are watching, you know, it’s a scary thing.

– All right, well, we’ll continue to talk about how video plays a part in the instructional coaching process we’re gonna take a quick break. If you’re listening or watching to this interview, somewhere out there, head to PLtogether.org in order to watch the rest of this lounge talk as well as others. Jim, thanks so much for joining us.

– Thanks for inviting me.

Share the learning