Improving Teacher Observations Through Video
Recording technology can improve teacher buy-in at observation time, and make the review process both more fair and more productive. Here’s a list of reasons why.
Video is objective.
The nice thing about video observations is that it takes a lot of the subjectivity out of the process. Drop-in observations often feel unfair to teachers, for a variety of reasons. They might be caught off guard. They might feel that class period was unusual in some way, and thus not a genuine reflection of their skill. They might question the observer’s assessment of the situation. A recent Harvard study of hundreds of teachers across multiple states found that when observations are videoed, there are two important benefits:
- Teachers are less prone to argue with the results.
- Teachers are quicker to self-assess.
While teachers might worry about the reviewer’s perception vs. reality, it’s a problem they can struggle with, as well. How things seemed while they were in the throes of teaching is not necessarily how things were. When teachers can sit down and watch a video of their own performance, the reviewer can point out specific issues– but often you won’t have to. Teachers can see opportunity for improvement without being told. Which brings us to another important point:
Video observations empower educators. When an observer conducts a drop-in observation, the teacher’s reaction to feedback can often hinge on the quality of their professional relationship. Without trust, feedback may not seem actionable. But when teachers observe themselves, that obstacle is removed. Their wheels start turning, and they have an immediate opportunity to improve the quality of their instruction. Video observations don’t generate arguments; they generate action plans.
Video observations let administrators plan their time more flexibly. While they don’t seem to actually save time, they do make life easier. Instead of having to schedule a million observations during peak instructional hours, you can leave it to your instructors to video their own observations. (This underscores our point about empowerment, by the way. While every educator has found him or herself being observed during a challenging teaching situation, there’s far less concern about being ambushed when they’re the ones who begin the recording.) Harvard found that administrators who used digital video were more likely to actually watch the observations during lunches or after normal work hours.
Video yields ongoing benefits. Anecdotal observations reflect what stood out to the observer. They’re a finite resource, and as hard as we try, they may not reflect nuances that could be helpful to the educator. Videos provide a walk-through of the teaching experience that educators can return to again and again, gleaning new insights with each pass.
Setting up video observations is much easier than you might think. Reach out to iRecord to find out more about how you can put digital video to work at your academic institution.