The power of video observations – part 2

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A while ago I wrote about video observations for professional development reasons (see here). This post will detail the process I went though during and after watching the recording.

I don’t know about you, but I find watching myself teach hard. My voice doesn’t sound the same as in my head and let’s not mention my many mannerisms… However, as difficult as it is to sit through a recording of my own lesson, I always end up learning something new and valuable.

Video observation – watching the recording

Since I tend to be distracted by myself the first time I watch a lesson, I always watch the lesson twice. The first time I let myself focus on all the things I hate about the way I speak or move around the classroom. I watch the recording from beginning to the end without pausing. Once that’s out of the way I find it much easier to focus on the important part – the teaching and learning.

The second time I watch the lesson I have to have a focus just like I would if I was observing another teacher. I tend to pause, rewind if I need to, and take notes. This time my school provided me with a set of reflection prompts:

  • Did all students have opportunities to participate in the lesson?
  • Which of the following were you the most successful at during this lesson: effective questioning, behaviour management or opportunities for differentiation?
  • If you could change one thing if you were to do the lesson again, what would you change?

I guess it’s important to mention that you want to make sure you have enough time to dedicate to this part of the process. My recording is about 35 minutes long, but with all the pausing, rewinding and note-taking it took me about and hour and half to watch it twice. Even if you don’t take as long as I do, it’s worth giving yourself enough time to reflect on your teaching as well as on the students’ learning.

Although it’s important to notice the potential ‘mistakes’ and realise how the practice can be improved, it’s equally important to recognise the successes and celebrate them. Think about the feedback you have previously gotten and give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve done better this time. You deserve it!

Post-observation reflection or cold feedback

After the video observation, it was time for me to go back to those reflection prompts and formulate my answers. Watching the lesson with these questions in mind proved quite useful. I learnt that although I did well with questioning, I missed some opportunities for further differentiation. My TTT was higher than I would have liked it to be because the students were not very forthcoming. They might have been intimidated by the recording and I didn’t do enough to lower their affective filter. If I taught this lesson again, I would surely put more thought into planning out the interaction patterns for added differentiation and for more opportunities for the students to verbally contribute to the lesson.

What’s next?

The next thing for me to do is to get some feedback from colleagues and to do the same for them. My colleagues in my CDP group will each watch my recording and give me feedback after the video observations, which will no doubt prove beneficial. We are usually our own harshest critics, but it’s always intriguing to find out what another teacher notices about our teaching. I can’t wait for our next discussion!

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