Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2014

Teaching Channel

See colleagues in action with digital PD for discussion and reflection

Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Educators can connect and grow using this innovative online tool.

Cons: Some of the videos could offer teachers more in the way of concrete, actionable takeaways.

Bottom Line: This video library of actual classroom teaching offers opportunities for professional educators to watch, share, and improve their craft.

Many schools have been experimenting with instructional rounds as a practice for encouraging teachers' development and collaboration. This practice has proved beneficial; however, it requires the observing teachers to leave their own students behind with a substitute, potentially losing precious instructional time. 

Through the Teaching Channel site, teachers can use video as a platform to participate in classroom observations outside of the school day. Subsequent discussions about lessons could happen digitally or while watching the video together in small groups -- perhaps during a planned meeting or collaboration period. On top of this, the site's online Q&A forum lets teachers engage in conversations about relevant issues. This means that teachers from all over the world can connect and grow together.

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The Teaching Channel is a video resource focused on teachers' classroom practice -- the website is connected to the TV show that airs regularly on PBS. Through the site, educators can watch videos of teachers working in their classrooms as a way to learn from, and provide feedback to, peers in their profession. The site's platform also gives teachers a space to share lesson ideas and strategies across a fairly broad range of subjects and grade levels. New videos are added periodically, helping the overall collection grow.

Additionally, the site's new Teaching Channel Teams platform functions as a private space for professional development among smaller, closed networks of teachers. It's essentially a more personalized version of the site's public video-PD model, geared toward individual schools or even departments within a school. Teachers can use Teams to connect and share videos of their practice within a small group setting. This creates a safe and supportive place for mentors and coaches to work with new teachers and teaching interns, but could also support collaborative groups of veteran teachers looking to learn from one another.

The Teaching Channel's website is a great resource for teachers who are looking to grow in their practice. The site is particularly helpful to teachers who are looking for examples of quality teaching beyond the scope of what they're currently teaching. As it can be challenging to get away from one's own students and classroom, the site can help educators observe other teachers outside of the normal school day. In addition, the handy Lesson Planner icon allows teachers to bookmark ideas and schedule email reminders.

Because the videos here come from a variety of sources, quality and usefulness may vary somewhat. Some videos may feel a bit more commercial. For example, the video "Bringing Industry into the Classroom" makes a compelling case for creating a pipeline from the classroom into industry. While the spirit of the video may inspire some thoughtful discussion, the video itself doesn't offer specific tips on how to make the classroom-workforce connection. Nevertheless, other videos, like "Analyzing Shakespeare Through Questioning," are more likely to offer teachers specific lesson ideas and strategies to use in their own day-to-day practice. In either case, all of the videos here can serve as good discussion starters about what makes for great teaching.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

An intuitive layout aids navigation. The videos are well-produced and interesting for teachers looking to advance their practice. An even wider variety of exemplary lessons could help engage a more diverse range of teachers.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Videos highlight educationally sound practices. Whether new to the classroom or seasoned veterans, teachers will be inspired to keep growing. More tips for teachers to use on the spot could extend usefulness.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Tips are offered to help users, and the active Q&A forum has a diverse community of supportive teachers. An option to receive videos and transcripts in multiple languages could help the site reach an even broader audience.

Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Chris C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Concordia International School Shanghai
Pudong, 31
Teaching Channel Teaches Teachers To Try Techniques Previously Unattempted
To hear this quick review, please visit: Overview TeachingChannel is a non-profit website run by and for teachers that shares effective pedagogical practices through the use of videos and PLN support. “Watch, Share, Learn” is the mantra of the site, and TeachingChannel does a superb job of supporting that creed. This site is an example of teacher collaboration at its best. Any teacher around the world can use TeachingChannel to access high-quality videos that demonstrate teaching practices, videoed in actual classrooms. Going beyond pedagogical theory, TeachingChannel offers real-world demonstrations, or “How To” examples, so that every viewing teacher can then employ these same practices in their own classrooms. Videos can run as long as one hour, but these videos are divided into segments highlighting discrete steps in a lesson, so viewers can choose three- to five-minute segments that address just that portion. TeachingChannel also supports Professional Learning Networks by connecting 670,000+ teachers through its website, arranged by grades taught and subject specialty. This is the added strength of the site that elevates it to the R in SAMR. TeachingChannel supports collaboration in a robust, effective manner. Concerns Other than the reality that watching videos takes time, I have no significant concerns. Commitment and Learning Curve Watching videos takes time. Until we get that Matrix brain plug-in, there is no changing the necessity of time. The learning curve varies depending upon the complexity of the practice or skill under examination. Learning how to effectively transition a class from one task to another is relatively fast. Undertaking Project-Based Learning for the first time takes several hours of preparation. Largely, learning is self-paced. Best for ES MS or HS? Teachers of all grade levels will benefit. Students less so. Cost Free! Website Link:
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