Video as a Tool for Guided Reflection in Literacy Specialist Preparation

Video as a Tool for Guided Reflection in Literacy Specialist Preparation

Allison Ward Parsons (George Mason University, USA) and Jennifer I. Hathaway (George Mason University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0206-8.ch005
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In this chapter, interactive video coding is explored as a tool to guide deep reflections and development of professional learning knowledge in a hybrid online class designed for candidates in a graduate program for specialized literacy professionals. This chapter focuses on reflective interactions between candidates as they learn to develop and deliver effective literacy professional learning as described in Standards 6 and 7. Findings demonstrate the effectiveness of video coding tools to facilitate realistic application of course material in authentic school contexts while maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment for candidates to gain experience and confidence.
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This chapter describes ways video was used as a tool for guided reflection in a hybrid online literacy leadership course in which candidates explored tenets of effective professional development and adult learning theories. The course was part of a graduate hybrid online program of study designed for practicing teachers who wished to develop the expertise needed to serve as a reading/literacy specialist. It was designed to prepare candidates for a range of responsibilities identified in recent research on the evolving and multiple roles of a literacy specialist, specifically implementing teacher professional learning and coaching (e.g., Bean et al., 2015; Hathaway, Martin, & Mraz, 2016; Walpole & Blamey, 2008). Due to the range of school release times and highly congested regional traffic, in 2014 the faculty shifted to a hybrid program format to better accommodate the professional learning needs of area teachers.

The course was taught near the end of the required program sequence when candidates were well versed in literacy foundations and evidence-based practices. The course met face to face for approximately 60% of the semester and online for 40% of the semester in order to provide a practicum segment within candidates’ school settings. Within the course, literacy specialist candidates applied their understanding of effective professional development, adult learning, and literacy as they developed and led professional learning activities in their schools. Each of these professional learning activities were video recorded and shared via GoReact (, an online platform for sharing and receiving video feedback. Candidates were prompted to watch and reflect upon their work facilitating professional learning in their schools. Additionally, within the course each candidate partnered with a classmate for peer coaching. Peer coaches provided feedback on their partners’ facilitation of professional learning after viewing videoed coaching segments. The semi-practicum nature of the course lent itself to video coding tools: Candidates received regular coaching feedback during professional session implementation while simultaneously affording flexible scheduling for those sessions within their schools.

While there are multiple affordances to using video coding tools, it is also prudent to note that this project is the result of formative changes over five years and 14 sections of the course. When the first author began teaching the course, she noticed that candidates did not gain peer coaching experience in the program, nor did they have an opportunity to reflect with peers on their own growth and understanding of the literacy specialist role. Although candidates engaged their school colleagues in professional learning study groups, they did not thoughtfully reflect on the experience or receive coaching on their delivery. In early iterations of video-based coaching, the first author supplied cameras and each candidate recorded one professional learning session during the practicum segment. Peers viewed the videos together in a face-to-face class and coached on the fly. Candidates valued the video and peer coaching experience (Parsons, 2018), and so program faculty gradually increased coaching interaction and support over the next four years.

Initial use of video-recorded study group sessions and face-to-face peer coaching as an opportunity for guided reflection has evolved into the four cycles of guided reflection described herein. The result is a comprehensive, focused experience that candidates value and that extends recent research on supporting literacy specialist development (e.g., Hathaway, Martin, & Mraz, 2016; Bean et al. 2015; Hibbert et al., 2008; Hunt & Handsfield, 2013; Parsons, 2018; Walpole & Blamey, 2008).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Responsive Feedback: Specific feedback that is designed to provide information to a partner. Examples include recasting, extending, and expanding comments to paraphrase and connect with partner statements.

Reflection: The act of deeply thinking about practice in order to shift understanding.

Coaching Cycle: The co-planning, implementation, observation, and debriefing that occurred around each professional learning session.

Literacy Coaching: A job-embedded form of professional development in which a coach works with individual and groups of teachers to support their professional learning and student achievement.

Questioning: The use of open and closed questions that are designed to invite partner reflection and clarification of events during professional learning and coaching interactions.

Peer Coaching: The in-class candidate pairings. Peer coaches are part of the course-based community of practice where they share similar, developing knowledge about literacy leadership research and theory and are learning to navigate the role of a specialized literacy professional.

Coaching Stance: Offers candidates the opportunity to analyze their positionality and discursive moves on a continuum of indirect to direct input to a partner. In this chapter, candidates found their use of stances to reflect the intensity of their feedback, from a more passive listening stance to invite teacher reflection to a more direct stance where they offered specific suggestions and solutions for practice.

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