The "Instructional Moves" name and logo (a stylized I and M) alongside the Collaborator Spotlight logo (an overhead view of three cartoon people standing in a circle, holding hands).

Collaborator Spotlight: Educating Educators with Instructional Moves

Instructors can be learners, too! We spoke with Josh Bookin, Director of Instructional Support & Development and Instructional Moves Project Lead at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, about how Instructional Moves is helping educators refine and develop their teaching techniques.

What does Instructional Moves do?

The Instructional Moves (IM) project, based on the premise that “great teaching can be learned,” focuses on helping educators incorporate and refine high-leverage teaching practices. To do so, IM spotlights reflective Harvard instructors using instructional moves applicable to multiple settings and grounded in teaching and learning research. Moves are anchored in videos showcasing classrooms from across the university. The videos, which combine class footage with reflections from instructors and students, are supplemented by relevant research on the move’s efficacy, tips for enacting this move in diverse settings, and related resources that facilitate deeper exploration.

IM also features a library of raw clips—unedited classroom footage that gives instructors a common experience to explore and discuss instructional practices—and a facilitator’s guide to provide ideas and examples of how to use IM resources in facilitated professional learning. The resulting website seeks to help classroom instructors learn research-based pedagogical techniques, gain deeper insight into classroom complexities, and explore resources geared toward improving teaching and learning outcomes.

Carefully curated and designed for both independent and guided use, IM aims to facilitate powerful conversations about pedagogy among classroom instructors.

Josh Bookin, a man with dark hair, glasses, a light blue shirt, and dark blue tie, stands at a podium and gestures to a projection screen behind him.
Josh Bookin, Instructional Moves Project Lead

Which pieces of content are you most proud of?

As someone who has never before created a website and who has now spent eight years on this endeavor, this is a hard question as I am quite proud of (and emotionally attached to!) the website as a whole. But I’ll focus here on the newer elements that we have recently completed:

We are actually hosting a synchronous Zoom session on Oct. 23rd from 12 to 12:45 pm ET to demo these new features and give you a chance to ask questions about using them in professional learning. Please click here to RSVP!

What's one fun fact that LabXchange users should know about your organization?

That there actually is no Instructional Moves organization! IM is powered by the Harvard Graduate School of Education community, along with collaboration from colleagues across Harvard. Scores of inspiring faculty, staff, and students have contributed time and effort to this endeavor, but we have never had a full-time staff member on the project.

How can educators best make use of your content?

IM was designed such that there was no simple answer to that question. We built the website to be modular and flexible, and then created the Using IM Page and the Professional Development Facilitation Guide to showcase different ways to leverage the resources. That said, there are two general ways to use the resources on the site:

  • For individual instructors to “choose their own adventure” and follow where their interests lead. Most begin by exploring a module of interest. They may then follow a stream of related moves, dive deeply on the practices of a particular professor linked to a particular discipline, or explore the moves featured in our homepage spotlight.
  • For instructional coaches to explore the Facilitation Guide to get a sense of ways they can harness IM resources for collaborative professional learning and then locate the resources that can help them craft learning experiences on topics of interest to the teachers with which they work.
A sample classroom, with a lecturer in the foreground and rows of students in the background, many with raised hands.

What motivates you to continue your work?

For me, there’s a macro and a micro answer to this important question. On the macro level, I am motivated by the huge challenges we are facing in society—systemic racism, economic inequality, climate change, and the like. Without a motivated and skilled citizenry, empowered by critical thinking and inspired by moral clarity, we have no hope. Great teaching can help students develop the dispositions, knowledge, and skill needed to go out and serve a world so in need, and anything IM can do to help teachers with this critical work is very motivating. On the humbler, micro level, I love learning and I love helping others have joyful learning experiences in school. It is why I became an educator, and it motivates me still through my various projects, including IM.

Finally, what's your favorite science joke?

I was a geology major as an undergraduate, so I’ll go with this one:

What did one tectonic plate say when they bumped into the other?

Sorry, my fault!

Want to learn more about Instructional Moves? Register for their upcoming virtual demo session at 12 pm ET on Monday, October 23, 2023!

Written by
LabXchange team

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