Using Video to Improve Teaching
For many years I have advocated for the use of video for teacher evaluation purposes. Anybody who has ever coached an athletic team, led a musical, directed a band or chorus, etc., has used video to improve the performance of the athletes/performers. In order to become National Board-Certified Teachers, the teachers must video their teaching performance and reflect on the video according to professional standards. So, why don't educators use video for teacher evaluation purposes, or at the least for professional development purposes for the teachers to use themselves?
It is very difficult for a teacher evaluator to accurately script everything that is occurring in a classroom observation. Even if the observer limits the lens to what is happening in the classroom-for example, just recording evidence related to Questioning and Discussion-it is very difficult to either type or write down all the evidence. Another problem is that when the evaluator is typing or writing the evaluator is not "viewing" what is occurring in the classroom. Important verbal and non-verbal clues can easily be missed. Can you imagine an evaluator recording what is actually happening in the classroom at the same the evaluator is video recording the lesson? It might look like this.
By video recording the observation the teacher and evaluator can then reflect on the actual performance and replay or forward as needed. Imagine watching a video of a small group of students completing a learning task outside the eyes and ears of the teacher. The teacher can watch the video to determine if the students are accomplishing the learning task as outlined in the instructions.
If the teacher was working on specific skill she/he was trying to improve, the evaluator can record the performance and later the teacher and evaluator can reflect on the effectiveness of the skill that is being worked on. This process is not about "rating" the teaching, it about improving the teaching.
The administrator does not even have to be part of the recording. The teacher can record herself/himself and conduct a self-reflection of the work being done. Self-reflection should play an important role in teachers' professional growth. Teachers often enter the profession with preconceived ideas about what good instruction looks like. Just like any individual they only know what they have learned. Video gives the teacher unlimited access to teachers who exhibit excellent teaching methodologies.
Teachers cannot always observe what is happening in the classroom. For example, if the students are engaged in small group work the teacher does not really know what is happening in each group. She/he only knows what is happening in the group they are working with. Using video allows the teacher to self-reflect on what they could not observe. Teachers can press pause while viewing a video and ponder the root causes of the problems.
A major benefit for video recording the teaching is the possibility that the teacher demonstrates excellence in a particular part of the lesson; for example, a video depicting the teacher using exemplary practices around formative and summative student evaluation. This segment could be uploaded to a district site so other teachers would have access to watch this exemplary skill.
Many schools give teachers time to collaborate in a setting called Professional Learning Committees (PLCs). These meetings are busy discussing curriculum, student progress and, hopefully, instructional strategies, with teachers reviewing student formative and summative data and examining the methodologies of the teacher who had the highest student growth and/ or proficiency results. Imagine if the teachers could view a video of this exemplary teacher and reflect on how they can replicate the teaching strategies in their own classrooms.
Peer collaboration is the most important professional development teachers can use to improve their own performance. I have led hundreds of workshops and academies for teachers and administrators on the topics of The Danielson Frameworks and Teacher Evaluation. I always use videos of teachers teaching for the participants to judge the performance according to the Danielson Frameworks. It teaches educators to view the lessons from a more general observation to specific, evidence-based thinking as a result of the activity. Teachers often express to me that they learn teaching techniques from the videos that they plan to use in their classrooms.
Generation Z Learners
Generation Z is defined to be people ages 14 to 23. Recently I was visiting with my son's family; one of our granddaughters is 16. She was doing her homework and several times said "Alexa, how do you solve the problem ...." And Alexa would provide the answer. Later I heard audio from her computer and it was a YouTube video explaining a math concept.
The September 14, 2018, Education Week article titled "Why Generation Z Learners Prefer YouTube Lessons Over Printed Books" hit home for me. The article quotes a high school sophomore saying "When I'm doing my homework, I'll look up how to solve a problem on YouTube," said Moreano, a sophomore at Locust Valley High School outside New York City. "I like it because it's really easy to follow. I can pause it, or I can rewind it if I have a question."
The article also reveals the following: "YouTube is a good source when Moreano has a test coming up," she said. She just types "crash course" on whatever subject the test is on and she'll find YouTube videos of "people simplifying everything," helping her to really "grasp the concept."
Khan Academy has been available to students for several years. Khan has even teamed up with SAT to offer a whole series of study materials for the SAT suite of assessments that is very good. The article points out that YouTube also has several issues that limit its use because of the links to inappropriate videos and maybe even inaccurate information for the subject being searched for.
As educators we need to remember that different generations of learners are attracted to different styles and types of learning. As administrators we need to ensure that our curriculum and instructional strategies include the styles and types of learning that the students in our classrooms find most useful.
Tip of the Week
I learned from a superintendent recently that his district is using targeted social media to reach the district's constituents. He stated that they use Facebook for older parents and general community members, Twitter and Pinterest for staff, Instagram for younger parents, and Snapchat and YouTube for students. Obviously, using a variety of social media sources will increase the likelihood that the district message will meet its intended targets.