A video-based PD process helps teacher candidates candidates think about culturally responsive teaching and how they can be more equitable.

Helping teacher candidates practice culturally responsive teaching

A video-based PD process helps teacher candidates think about how they can improve their teaching to be more equitable in the classroom

Key points:

  • Video reflection is a popular PD tool used across many professions
  • Video PD helps teachers reflect on their interactions with students and improve their culturally responsive teaching
  • See related article: 3 keys to ensuring accessibility for all students

Equity is a widely-used term in education today.

However, talking about equity is not the same as taking action to create more equitable learning environments that benefit today’s students. For equity to truly exist, educators need to be more culturally responsive in their teaching.

This is a major focus of our teacher certification program at City University of Seattle. We want our teacher candidates to teach with a culturally responsive lens. We want them to know how to support students from a variety of backgrounds. And, we want them to know what equity actually looks like in today’s K-12 classrooms.

So, how do we go about this?

Using video to create reflective teachers

Video reflection is a widely-used professional development method across many professions. Take social work, for example, where the training process is often filmed. Human interactions, such as body language or one’s tone, are then watched back and reflected upon to help social workers improve their practice.

This process of video reflection, in part, prompted us to use video to help our teacher candidates reflect on their own interactions with students as they work to improve their culturally responsive teaching.

Using the Edthena video coaching platform, we work collaboratively with our teacher candidates to record and then watch short video clips of their teaching in action. This allows us to actually see the different interactions taking place in the classroom. How are teacher candidates addressing their students? How are they engaging with their students? What types of questions are they asking their students?

Seeing these teacher-student interactions on video allows our teacher candidates to better reflect on their practice and allows us to provide feedback as needed. We are now able to objectively focus on specific mannerisms, tones, and body language through the lens of improving culturally responsive teaching practices.

Asking the right questions to improve culturally responsive teaching

As part of this video reflection and collaboration process, our candidates also reflect with their peers and answer qualitative questions related to their teaching. The point of this is for candidates to really start thinking about how they can improve their teaching to be more equitable in the classroom.

To guide these reflections and important conversations, we developed 12 questions related to bias, assumptions, communication style, identity differences, listening skills, and classroom environment.

The reflection questions are:

  • To what extent does race, gender, sexuality, ability, or class impact instructional delivery in the classroom?
  • To what extent do you see bias and assumptions in the communication between the teacher and students? Consider verbal and non-verbal cues.
  • How do students react to the teacher’s communication style and language?
  • Is the teacher shifting focus and power away from the most privileged in the classroom conversations?
  • Is the teacher making conversations accessible to everyone who wants to participate?
  • Could the identity differences between the teacher and the student(s) be contributing to a difference of opinion or perspective?
  • Is the teacher listening to people whose identities and experiences differ from their own?
  • How might reflecting on the way the teacher communicates help improve the classroom environment, equity, and overall student success?
  • Do all of the students hear and react the same to what the teacher communicates, both verbally and nonverbally?
  • How does the teacher adjust their communication to connect with each student, if at all?
  • Is the teacher listening to the student(s)? What does the teacher’s “listening” look like?
  • Is the teacher providing a safe place for people who have been historically marginalized people to speak out?

During reflection, we ask teachers to consider one or a small handful of these questions – rather than all 12 at once – as they think about their teaching practices and how they can continue to improve.

This practice provides our teacher candidates with tangible examples of instances where they can be more culturally responsive in their teaching. It also provides them with a guiding framework to think more critically about their practice as they engage in continuous professional learning – both now and throughout their careers in K-12 classrooms.

It goes without saying that being a culturally responsive teacher takes work, and there’s always room for growth. However, by engaging in reflective and collaborative practices, teachers and teacher candidates alike can improve their craft and create classrooms that support diversity, inclusion, and equity for all.

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