“Cameras serve as a mirror for teachers to examine and reflect on their own teaching practices in a very powerful way,” writes Stacy Cohen on Jim Knight’s Instructional Coaching Blog, where she discusses the benefits of instructional coaches using Flip Cameras.
I completely agree with Stacy and, as I mentioned before (Classroom Turnaround Plan), videotaping your class can be helpful even when you don’t have a coach to debrief with. Just a couple more thoughts on this:
- Less is more. The longer the tape, the greater the potential for being overwhelmed when you watch it. That’s why it’s often better to limit each taping to one or two aspects of instruction that you’ve targeted for enhancement. If, for example, you’re looking to strengthen your questioning techniques, watching just 5-10 minutes of instruction may be all you need to draw some reliable conclusions.
- Ensure objectivity. It’s human nature to watch yourself on tape and only notice things you’d like to change. This is good in that you should always be striving for improvement. It’s not good, though, if it means throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water, and you end up scrapping an entire lesson or strategy that may be just a tweak or two from being a keeper. This is one reason it’s important to ensure objectivity by using tools like the “Comprehensive Observation of Teacher and Student Actions” form you’ll find at the end of Classroom Turnaround Plan.
Between Stacy Cohen’s blog post, my comments here, and my previous article, hopefully you’re ready to let the cameras roll. And the cameras Stacy refers to are easy to use and affordable (around $150-250 depending on features, so a great bang-for-the-buck staff development resource!).