Lesson observations have traditionally been seen as a performance management tool, and to some people the idea of putting a camera into the classroom sets off Big Brother alarm bells! But when implemented properly, controlled and permissioned by the teacher and used by teachers to support one another, video has enormous potential to improve teaching and learning.
Professionals across the board, from sports people to surgeons, use video to perfect their style, technique and ultimately improve the outcome of their practice. We all know that video coaching in sport is common place; we understand why and can see the benefits. All of these benefits apply to the use of video in professional development.
Using video for teacher professional development has, until now, been a rare occurrence; excitingly this is starting to change. Rather than signifying Big Brother, video can help to shift lesson observations away from performance management and towards bottom up, teacher controlled professional development.
So why is video is impactful CPD? Here’s six key reasons:
1) It allows far better informed, deeper self-reflection, which leads to further embedded improvements
2) You can observe and be observed objectively, removing the subjective element of traditional feedback
3) You see yourself through someone else’s eyes, giving you a fresh perspective on your practice
4) It is a useable learning resource. Video can be stopped, started, rewound and referred back to; they are easily shared with colleagues; and systems such as IRIS Connect allows the addition of time linked notes and data collection.
5) It contextualises feedback and professional dialogue, which encourages the development of an open and collaborative culture and makes coaching and mentoring more meaningful and productive
6) It allows modelling to be more effective. Watching another excellent teacher allows you to emulate their practice. Schools that build up a video library of best practice provide a fantastic resource for teachers to access.
It is important when using video in schools for professional development purposes that certain safeguards are in place. All videos must be stored securely and teachers should have permissioning power over their videos to ensure that they remain entirely under their control and can only be viewed by others if given permission to do so.
Many teachers begin by keeping observations to themselves for self-reflection and once comfortable and confident doing this begin to share with peers, mentors and coaches.
Sarah Pinkerton is the Marketing Manager at IRIS Connect – IRIS Connect is a secure web community and range of mobile video systems that breaks the mould of traditional lesson observations, empowers teachers, enables collaboration and improves schools.