How video opened our minds for growth

teacher helping studentCan state of mind impact an organization's culture and willingness to evolve? Diane Lauer of St. Vrain Schools in Colorado says yes. Learn how Lauer's school system leveraged video and the "5 states of mind" to accelerate institutional growth and create positive shifts in classroom and school culture. 


By Diane Lauer, Ed. D.

I work with teachers, the most incredibly driven, confident, passionate people on the face of the Earth. Teaching demands these qualities—it’s not a career for the weak. To be successful a teacher must effectively orchestrate learning each day, setting into motion a design that embraces hearts, engages minds, and elevates skills. With such responsibility on the shoulders of our teachers, school systems must effectively understand the five states of mind and use video strategically when navigating internal capacities. 

Years ago, Art Costa and Bob Garmston began a quest to look beyond the surface of teacher behaviors to discover the sources of excellence that drive human performance (Costa and Garmston, 2003). They suggest that five states of mind: efficacy, consciousness, interdependence, flexibility, and craftsmanship “are the wellsprings that nurture all high-performing individuals, groups and organizations” (Costa & Garmston, 2016, p. 103).

During the last four years, my St. Vrain colleagues and I have been systematically integrating video in coaching and collaborative cycles of inquiry. We have discovered that video can have a great impact on a teacher’s state of mind and when used effectively, can accelerate instructional growth and create positive shifts in classroom and school culture.

The 5 States of Mind

In Cognitive Coaching: Developing Self-Directed Leaders and Learners, Costa and Garmston discuss how the following five states of mind inform human perception and are the resources that human beings access as they resolve tensions and challenges within their setting (2016).

Consciousness is one’s ability to monitor one’s own values, intentions, thoughts and behaviors. Consciousness is considered a gateway state of mind. It can be a prerequisite to activating other states of mind as well as self-control and self-direction.

Efficacy is believing that one has the ability to succeed in specific situation and accomplish a specific challenge. Efficacy acts as a driver, it propels one internally to seek new knowledge and solve problems.

Craftsmanship is related to one’s skillfulness and mastery. Underlying craftsmanship is the mindset of refinement and continuous improvement.

Flexibility opens our mind to multiple perspectives. Flexibility invites choice and the opportunity to view a situation from another point of view or another way to do something.

Interdependence is the quality of being able to draw upon and add to the resources of others. Interdependence can also indicate an ability to understand how one is connected to a larger system and how the interactions of each affect one another. 

Leveraging Internal Capacities with Video Reflection

In my district, if the teachers we are supporting are stuck or looking for a way to improve practice, we reference their states of mind to gauge where they might be high or low in their internal capacities. For example, during a coaching conversation a new teacher might share extreme frustration that her students are not behaving in the manner she expects and she has no clue what to do. After listening to this comment, I might gauge her to be low in efficacy and craftsmanship, but high in consciousness and interdependence. 

We have learned that taking an asset based approach is more effective than starting with one’s deficits. In this case, I would leverage this teacher’s strengths in consciousness and interdependence and avoid offering strategy suggestions because I sense she is low in craftsmanship and efficacy. I might respond by saying, “You’re fed up because your students are misbehaving and what you want is to spend more time teaching and less time managing. How about we record some video during a time that is especially frustrating and see if we can analyze it to come up with a plan to make it better?” By leveraging the assets of consciousness and interdependence, a coach can work collaboratively with a teacher to analyze the current reality and plan accordingly to reach desired shifts in student behavior.

Video has an immediate effect on consciousness. Video analysis can foster greater clarity and help target opportunities for growth. Video can validate what is going well and illuminate what is not. With that said, don’t use video to intentionally shock a colleague into consciousness. That is manipulative and destructive. That kind of “gotcha” game can only lead to mistrust and cultivate a negative school culture.

Video can be a great tool to support highly resourceful teachers as well. On one occasion, I had an opportunity to coach a teacher who was excited because his students were so actively engaged in cooperative group activities and was curious about giving them the opportunity to take it to the next level. Demonstrating high levels of resourcefulness in all five states of mind, I felt he was really seeking to leverage flexibility, seeing things from a different perspective and interdependence, using group resources to affect personal effectiveness. So, I responded by saying, “You’re pleased that your students can effectively work in groups and what you want is to invite them to deepen their level of ownership. How about we record some video during their group work time and then develop a protocol to help them evaluate their interactions as a team member and ways they can improve?”

Turn cycles of inquiry into a norm. Amazing things happen in school cultures where teachers habitually engage in cycles of reflection as a norm. Teachers in these environments become members of true learning communities. The strategic use of video within cycles of inquiry can accelerate professional growth when the states of mind are effectively leveraged and supported.


About Diane Lauer

Assistant Superintendent of Priority Programs & Academic Support | St. Vrain Valley Schools, Colorado

Diane is a results-driven leader focused on developing a world class learning environment for all students and staff. She has extensive experience as teacher, principal and executive leader. As the Assistant Superintendent of Priority Programs and Academic Support in the St. Vrain Valley School District, Diane supports the oversight of academic supports for 32,000 students and professional learning for 4,500+ personnel.

Connect with her on Twitter (@mrslauer) or via email ( Also, click here to check out Diane's testimonial




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