“The reflection that I did myself, when I videoed, offered me more opportunity for growth than anything an outsider could do for me. Watching my kids, what went on in my room, how I handled it, and things I said—that was more important than any sit-down that I could have with anybody [else]. ” Best Foot Forward teacher, North Carolina (2013)1
In this third installment of our Using Videos During Teacher Observations series, we will dive right in to what the research says with regard to using videos to support teacher observations. Our previous two posts can be found here: My Own Struggles and Creating an environment where teachers self reflect.
I’m guessing most of you don’t formally use videos during your teacher observations. Coaching? Maybe. The observer sitting down, watching the lesson on video, and providing feedback specific based on what was seen on film? Probably not. There are a lot of reasons why schools are hesitant to use videos. According to Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research and their Best Foot Forward Project, these reasons may include but are not limited to:
- Compliance Culture
- Rudimentary Reflection
- Inflexible Time
- Inadequate content area feedback
I’ve personally had conversations with several administrators who had various other reasons why they aren’t using videos for teacher observations. These reasons include their Union won’t allow it, they don’t have the appropriate technology, there is not a simple way to do it, and they are afraid of teachers putting on the proverbial “dog and pony show”. Others had concerns about students being recorded and what would be required from a policy perspective to allow for recording in the classroom. However 95% of these administrators rated the potential of video reflections/observations as having a major impact in their school. In other words, most (95%) think using videos during observations would make a positive difference for them and their teachers. They just aren’t doing it.
The aforementioned Best Foot Forward Project from Harvard University does a fantastic job providing specific suggestions to break through these barriers. Their toolkit is simply amazing. If you haven’t reviewed their toolkit, you should download it now. The Toolkit provides support in the following areas:
- Leveraging Video for Learning
- Video for self-reflection, peer collaboration, virtual coaching, evaluation, and building a video library
- Cultivating Trust in Video Observations
- Create a safe environment for teachers and communicate with parents and manage student privacy concerns
- Turnkey Technology: Setting up Schools for Effective Implementation
- Choose the right technology, set up your infrastructure, train teachers and observers
- Measuring Readiness and Assessing Success
- Ensure readiness, Assess Success
Speaking of the dog and pony show, The Best Foot Forward project addressed that directly in its Leveraging Video for Learning section: “If teachers control the camera, they are able to choose a videotaped lesson that they believe represents a comprehensive view of their best work. Not only does this process increase teacher agency in evaluation, but it also encourages teachers to rewatch several lessons and contemplate what constitutes effective, evaluation-worthy instruction before choosing what will be submitted to the administrator.” Later it reads “…teachers put their ‘best foot forward’, but this did not fundamentally change the distribution of observation scores between teachers.”2 For a more detailed quantitative review, please see the Best Foot Forward research brief.
The Best Foot Forward Project also includes a self-guided module for analyzing videos of your own instruction, a self-analysis noticing rubric, coaching conversation scripts, and many other worthwhile resources.
If you are considering using videos to support teacher reflection, coaching, and/or evaluation, the guidance from the Best Foot Forward project may help you map an implementation schedule and feel comfortable doing so. There are definitely logistics to consider, timing issues, collective bargaining disagreements, and other barriers you will face, but best practice suggests using video can have a positive impact on your entire observation process.
Next week we will take a look at how a professional athlete uses video to improve his game, and you may even learn a little bit about Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle.
Have you used videos during any of your observations, coaching cycles, or evaluations? If so, how did it go?
1Fullerton, J., Greenberg, M., Kane, T., Le, L., Quinn, D., Thal, D., & Zelaya, S. (2015). Leveraging Video for Learning: Strategies for Using Video Observations for Professional Growth [PDF]. Center for Education Policy Research. p. 2
2Fullerton, J., Greenberg, M., Kane, T., Le, L., Quinn, D., Thal, D., & Zelaya, S. (2015). Leveraging Video for Learning: Strategies for Using Video Observations for Professional Growth [PDF]. Center for Education Policy Research. p. 11-12