Saturday, 21 September 2013

Transforming Your Teaching Through Video

This post was originally posted in Innovate My School - a magazine and website which posts content on "innovative educational insights". Have a look to find some amazing bloggers giving real inspiration in the classroom.

We've all been observed whilst teaching; whether it's by mentors, mentees, colleagues, SMT or even the dreaded OFSTED. We're given feedback and we try and implement changes to improve our teaching. However, it is often difficult to remember what part of the lesson the observer is referring to, or you have no idea which student they're talking about when they comment on said student not focussing during part of the lesson. 

Videoing yourself teaching can change all that. Either by setting up a camera at the back of the classroom, asking a colleague to film it for you or buying more professional hardware designed for schools you can transform the way you approach improving your own teaching.

Say that you know that questioning is a particular weakness. You've been told that you are predominantly posing closed questions which aren't developing your class' thinking or understanding of the topic. If you were to video yourself, you can then pick apart your use of questioning in a very precise way. How long am I giving for thinking time? Which students do I ask to answer questions? Am I asking probing, clarification or recommendation questions? 

A colleague of mine recently used this to improve her distribution of questions. After videoing her lesson, she was able to analyse where in the classroom she was standing. After creating a 'map' of where she distributed the questions, she noticed a particular tendency to ask the questions in a certain location which in turn led to her asking more questions to students near that area. After a deliberate effort to make her positioning in the classroom more evenly spread when delivering the questions, she is now involving more students in the lesson by making sure they are answering questions.

Videoing the teaching means you can watch over the same bit over and over again. You can make notes whilst you're watching it back so that you are analysing your practice in detail rather than just trying to remember what happened. If you record yourself teaching multiple times, you can (hopefully) observe the marginal gains in your practice over time seeing how specific feedback and changes can make all the difference.

Once you stop cringing over your voice, how you're standing and how on earth you managed to miss the students talking at the opposite side of the room to where you were, it really is an invaluable reflective tool.

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