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Coaching for Change: Video-Based Coaching

Do you see what I see?

Capturing and watching classroom video is quickly emerging as a high-leverage professional learning practice for educators across the country. When teachers and coaches analyze video of classroom lessons, all that is said and done by teachers and students is right on the screen as opposed to inside their heads. What results is a conversation rooted in shared understanding. At EL Education, we believe in the power of video-based coaching, embedded within onsite coaching cycles, as part of a larger structure of a varied professional development.

I never watched an episode of ‘Lost.’ I just really am not comfortable watching myself. Matthew Fox, actor

According to The Center for Educational Policy Research at Harvard University (2015), “[The] structural separation, in which teachers develop their skills primarily through individual trial and error rather than through observation and collaboration with others, has been a major barrier to improving instruction.” Video-based coaching serves as a structure to foster personal reflection and growth by allowing teachers the opportunity to see their practice, and share it with others, in a safe, supported way.

Center for Education Policy Research, Harvard University. Leveraging Video for Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved June 22, 2016, from http://cepr.harvard.edu/files/cepr/files/1._leveraging_video_for_learning.pdf?m=1443808435  

Learning Target(s)

  1. I can explain the benefits of Video-Based Coaching when included as part of a robust professional development plan.
  2. I can describe the practice of Video-Based Coaching as a coaching strategy.

Combining coaching with the unique opportunity for self-reflection that video-based coaching offers (aligned to strategic goals and collaboration with a trained coach) can result in powerful professional growth.

Review: Comprehensive Professional Development Support

Review the graphic below illustrating how video-based coaching can be included as one element of a comprehensive approach to educator professional development.


  1. Which of these elements of professional development have you implemented at your school? Which would you like to add?
  2. How do you see video-based coaching augmenting the coaching structure you already have in place?
  3. Why might it be important to have a foundational coaching structure in place, as part of a more comprehensive professional development plan, before launching video-based coaching?

Review: Essential Components of Instructional Coaching

The essential components of instructional coaching are equally important for video-based coaching. Prior to engaging with this page, please re-visit the following Coaching for Change PLP pages:

Read: The Johari Window

The Johari Window was developed in 1955 by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingram to improve self-awareness and improve communication. Teachers and coaches can use this tool to build trust.  Teachers used to a traditional classroom observation model feel empowered by disclosing information about themselves. With the help of feedback from others, they are able to learn more about themselves and their impact on students. Read this article from Communication Theory which further explains the Johari Window.

For teachers:

  1. What are the behaviors, skills, attitudes, or attributes you want to be sure to communicate to the coach with whom you’re working, at the onset of your coaching relationship? Which of the behaviors, skills, attitudes or attributes of your “hidden self” might be important to share with your instructional coach?
  2. Watching yourself on video can be a powerful way to identify attributes of your “blind self”. What role would be most effective for a coach to play in supporting you in learning more about your “blind self”?

For coaches:

  1. Expanding the “open self” can be incredibly effective in strengthening a coaching relationship.  How will you achieve this goal, over time, with the teachers with whom you work? What role will the use of video play in achieving this?
  2. How can video-based coaching help you in supporting teachers to see behaviors, attitudes, practices, or attributes that are part of his/her “blind self”?

Read: Video Based Coaching Roles and Responsibilities

Video-based coaching always involves at least two key players: teacher and coach. Read the chart below to identify the roles and responsibilities for each in video-based coaching.


The following is an opportunity for you to assume the role of the instructional coach and participate in a simulated Video-Based Coaching experience.

Step 1: Open the SAP Evidence Guide, adapted from Student Achievement Partners’ Evidence Guide for Daily Instruction, and use this as a place to take your coaching notes.  Please note that the coaching cycle goal and focus for this lesson are as follows:  

  • Coaching Cycle Goal: I can use students and student work as models whenever possible, to celebrate their persistence in completing tasks independently and act as a support for others. 
  • Core Action 3, Indicator C: Where possible, students demonstrate the ability to persist in completing questions and tasks independently. 
  • Lesson focus: This lesson focuses on helping students understand Eliza in preparation for writing an essay about how she changes over the course of the play.
  • LT 1:  I can track the development of Eliza Doolittle as a character
  • LT 2: I can cite specific evidence from the paly to determine Eliza’s internal and external characteristics.

Next, watch the classroom video and provide feedback to the teacher by capturing notes on your SAP Evidence Guide feedback form.

Step 2:

Compare your feedback to that of an EL Education  Video-Based Coach! Watch the screencast to hear the coach explain her thinking and coaching moves, and compare them to those you captured during Step 1.

Dig Deeper

Read the following texts to support further thinking about video-based coaching practices for you and your school.

Putting a Lens on Teacher Practice, Video-Based Peer Coaching: This Center View newsletter from WestEd features one particular type of video-based professional learning: peer coaching.  It describes what video-based peer coaching looks like in action, potential challenges, and action steps to start effectively implementing this valuable form of professional learning. 
Lights, Camera, Action, Reflection: Using Video to Transform Your Teaching: This blogpost from the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ) features self-reflection on classroom video as the “single most painful and rewarding professional learning venture” in response to the question: how do teachers (really) learn?


For Teachers:

  • After reading about video-based coaching and participating in a simulation from the perspective of a coach, what are you noticing as the similarities between in-person and video-based coaching cycles? What are the differences?
  • From your perspective, what are the conditions necessary for video-based coaching to be successful?
  • Consider your own professional development plan. What might be the benefits of adding video-based coaching as as component of that plan?

For School Leaders:

  • After reading about video-based coaching and participating in a simulation from the perspective of a coach, what are you noticing as the similarities between in-person and video-based coaching cycles? What are the differences?
  • Consider the comprehensive professional development you offer your teachers. What might be the benefit of adding video-based coaching as an option for teachers or as a required component of that plan?
  • Think about the conditions necessary for video-based coaching to be successful. How are you supporting those conditions in your school?