Empowering Teacher Support and Elevating Teacher Development

Empowering Teacher Support and Elevating Teacher Development

The Murrieta Valley Unified School District serves a diverse group of teachers and students, with 65 induction candidates, 12 interns, and 12 additional teachers spanning from transitional kindergarten through adult education. To support these educators, the district trains and supports 94 mentors with an emphasis on effective mentoring, learning-focused supervision, cognitive coaching, and other best practices. The program’s mission is to inspire candidates to make inquiry the basis for ongoing professional learning.

Sean McCarthy, the Induction Program Director and Coordinator of Staff Development in the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, is passionate about new teacher development and ensuring induction candidates are prepared for the classroom. With over 25 years of experience as a facilitator and mentor, he has been exploring various methods to support teachers and enhance reflective teaching practices. Utilizing video for his own professional learning, he recognized its value in driving reflective teaching practices. 

After challenges with another video observation solution, McCarthy had some reservations about switching to GoReact but decided to make the move based on the user-friendliness and effectiveness of the GoReact training and support.

Customer Challenges

  • Initial in-person observations were time-consuming and often disruptive, resulting in instructional time loss.
  • Budget constraints limit release time for mentors and classroom observations.
  • Substitute shortages made it difficult for mentor teachers to conduct the required in-person observations because they couldn’t leave their classrooms.

GoReact Solutions

  • Flexible scheduling allows for recordings so mentors don’t have to leave their own classrooms, keeping teachers in the classroom with their students.
  • The cost of GoReact is significantly less than providing release time for live observations.
  • Mentors are able to do observations using video, so substitutes aren’t needed for this process.

McCarthy identified these six key features that make video observation with GoReact impactful:

  1. Pre-Observation Conference: Focused on tight objectives and optimal camera placement for effective recording.
  2. Standards-Based Feedback: Feedback was centered on California standards for the teaching profession to guide observations and inquiries.
  3. Focused Commentary: Commentaries were specific to the focus question to maintain the relevance of feedback.
  4. Cognitive Coaching Strategies: Utilizing techniques like open-ended questions and “notices and wonders” to elevate candidate thinking and reflections.
  5. Post-Observation Preparation: Mentors tagged comments to standard identifiers, and candidates reviewed and added their own commentary ahead of the post-observation conference.
  6. Real-Time, Learning-Focused Conversations: Facilitated effective collaboration based on video commentary and standards, enabling candidates to identify areas for improvement.

Implementation and Training

A systematic approach was taken to introduce GoReact to mentors and candidates after a failed launch of another video observation tool previously. The following steps were implemented with the help of GoReact Support:

Video for Authenticity & Evidence of Growth

Video plays a crucial role in promoting authenticity and providing concrete evidence of growth within teaching and learning. The benefits offered by GoReact accentuate this impact. 

Through objective and authentic observations, Murrieta Valley Unified School District uses video recordings to offer a true representation of classroom interactions devoid of observer bias, making them a valuable tool for professional development. In addition, the less threatening and disruptive nature of video recordings compared to in-person observations, preserves the authenticity of classroom dynamics. 

GoReact fulfills the requirements for live observations and tracks and monitors candidates’ progress, providing evidence of growth. GoReact also enables candidates to document their journey toward teacher mastery and facilitates state certification documentation, making it an indispensable tool for educators seeking professional advancement.

Video as the Third Point

The district has been using video as the “third point” to facilitate effective feedback and reflective teaching. Utilizing Laura Lipton’s Mentoring Matters and Learning Focus Supervision, this approach allows candidates to see their teaching from an objective standpoint and identify areas for growth without defensiveness. Video provides a safe, risk-free way for candidates to make self-discoveries, making it easier for them to embrace changes and improvements in their teaching practices. GoReact facilitates the “third point” objective piece, helping to facilitate conversations with candidates and reduce defensiveness.

User-Friendly Excellence

The combination of user-friendliness and exceptional support from GoReact has made it a go-to choice for Murrieta Valley Unified School District. The simple interface has proven to be accessible for mentors, regardless of their technology skills, ensuring that everyone can effectively engage with it. The seamless integration of tags for California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTPs) eliminates the need for additional tools, streamlining the observation process. By offering user-friendly features and stellar support, GoReact enhances mentor retention by simplifying their busy lives and facilitating efficient engagement with candidates. 

The exceptional training and support provided by GoReact underscore its commitment to ensuring effective usage and further emphasize the value of a user-friendly, well-supported solution.

Results and Next Steps

The successful integration of GoReact for video observations allowed candidates and mentors to have powerful, reflective conversations based on a shared third point. The clear tagging of comments to standards also provided candidates with a strong evidence base for their portfolios. GoReact has improved the program’s effectiveness and helped enhance the induction program’s reputation, and recruitment and retention efforts.

McCarthy and Murrieta Valley Unified School District plan to expand the use of GoReact. They’ve already started using GoReact to conduct exit interviews and are considering it to support mentors with their cognitive coaching by having them videotape their collaborative conversations. The district recognizes the software’s potential in supporting ongoing teacher development and plans to utilize it as a key tool for elevating teaching practices in the future.

To learn more about how GoReact helps school districts support mentors and new teachers, visit https://get.goreact.com/k12/.