Connecting with Video: Our School Community- The TouchCast
Our district took a huge and worthwhile leap this year! We took on the cause of Professional Learning Communities. The … “model flows from the assumption that the core mission of formal education is not simply to ensure that students are taught but to ensure that they learn. This simple shift—from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning—has profound implications for schools.” You can read more about PLC’s at the link below.
This process takes time, and the collaboration that teachers naturally use to walk through this process can get very complex leading to multiple levels of analysis such as student data reviews, test item analysis conversations, question formatting discussions, and ultimately standards dissection. This has been around for many years. I was involved in such a process at the high school level about 10 years ago, and the benefit was that I knew the standards for my curriculum, and I also knew when lessons and assessments were a complete mismatch for learning targets. I thoroughly enjoyed the process, and I also know how long it can take. I worked with a team of 8 teachers, and 3 of us spent several weeks during our summer vacation creating aligned curriculum to match our standards.
Due to the time required for such an undertaking, I have chosen to use alternative methods to communicate with our staff. We no longer have faculty meetings where we discuss procedural items. We have professional development opportunities. Further, I used to write a weekly Chat and PUPdate for the staff where expectations and celebrations were covered. I have continued with the PUPdate which is a simple Friday email full of images and sometimes containing videos and/or links to resources. However, rather than using the Monday Chat which required teachers to stop and read a document early on in their work week, I now create a weekly TouchCast which is shared every Monday with faculty and staff. The video has a time limit of 5 minutes, and it allows staff to multi-task while watching/listening to the broadcast. I had one teacher tell me she watches on her phone while she is getting ready for work in the morning. I love that staff can multi-task and can replay the video or pause and reflect at any point. A nice feature of the TouchCast is that you can embed links and documents and videos that the viewer can use with TouchScreen devices such as tablets and smartphones. The viewer needs to only touch the screen (when viewing on TouchCast and not YouTube), and they can access all of the embedded resources at their fingertips. If they really like it they can download it instantly.
I think this is a way to give back time to our staff, and it certainly allows me to share a more personal method of communication with everyone as the nuances of speech, intonation, and facial expression are highly superior to a weekly Word document.
Here is my Thanksgiving TouchCast. I encourage you to use video at every opportunity. Video is a great way to communicate!
If you are using a smartphone you may need to use this link: