Classroom Observation Strategies: Videos of Practice
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Classroom Observation Strategies: Videos of Practice

We identified videos of practice as being
suitable for our school because of the need to accelerate the improvement and development of teachers. We were looking for tools that weren’t human resource-intensive, and video was a really good way for us to achieve that once teachers had an understanding of what it was that they were building their capacity towards. We first sat down as a leadership
team and looked at how other schools had used videos. Most of it was used around self-reflection. There are challenges in implementing videos of practice. Any change has challenges to
it. Teachers are resistant and reluctant to take on new approaches, and so we had to do this gently. We had to make sure that we selected carefully the people that were initially approached to come on board with video in their practice. We went to, obviously, the more confident
ones, and worked with them and asked them permission for “Can we now share this work that we’ve done using video with other members of staff?” And once we started to go down that line and teachers could see that this was a non-threatening, quite ‘non-invasive’ approach that was beneficial both to them and to their peers, they jumped on board.
After six, eight, 10 months of videoing themselves and us using those videos at staff meetings or inductions processes, people started to see that it became a really valuable tool
within their classroom, to a point where 90% of our staff were happy to use the video and self-reflect on them. Staff members will sit down with an administrator and we discuss their goals—what they want to achieve. And once we’ve decided together what we want to achieve, we’ll then go in, we’ll video their lesson, we’ll provide some feedback.
They’ll do a self-reflection on their video, and then we’ll come together and talk about how their lesson went and where they can improve. From those meetings, we’ll decide “what
would you like to work on next” or “what could you do to make your lessons better”. And then, once we’ve decided on our following goal or action, then we’ll go in and we’ll
use the video, or we’ll do the observations again. And it’s a cyclical process. We’ll
meet with them every few weeks depending on their expertise in teaching and also how new they are in the school. Today we are learning to write a sentence that has a when, a who, and a what. When you’re at the front of the classroom, you tend to miss a lot of things and you don’t realise specific patterns or strategies that we use. So, being able to
go back and watch myself, I can see I’m asking a certain amount of students a lot
more than others, or I can see that I don’t use the classroom space well. You just tend to pick up on a lot more things than you would do if you were just at the front of the classroom and not going back and watching yourselves and getting feedback from other staff members too. The protocol for viewing a recorded lesson is I will go sit and watch it independently
and perform my own feedback from the observations that I see. And then I make a time with my
assistant principal, and she’s also obviously watched the lesson and she has her own notes and observations. She then asks me how I felt about the lesson, what went well, what I think I could’ve done better on, and what my next focus may be, and then she will chime in whether she agreed or maybe she thought different. And then we discuss about, again, what I did well and what I could possibly work on for next time. So how do you feel about the lesson that you did today after watching your video? Well, after watching the video last week and having our conversation, I was more conscious that I needed to make sure that I was addressing those learning intentions, and why it was important. So, throughout my lesson, especially in that first section, I was really making sure that I was getting that message through to the students. And I think I did that well this particular time. When we get together
after the videos of practice and we sit down with our teachers to look at what they found
in their video, it’s important to give them some ownership. So we often ask them, “So,
how did you feel that lesson went today?” You get all the positives from them out of
it, but they’re very critical about their abilities as well. So you can see here, Kelly,
we talked about before, how it’s fantastic supporting those children who need it the
most, but when we go here … so this is the 14-minute mark. But then even when we go a
bit further into the lesson, you find that you’re actually still sitting with that small
group. So if you can find a way to move around the class more … so you find yourself you’re
gravitating back to that group. And that’s great, because they need as much support as
possible. But if you can find a way to get around to the rest of the students here, so
as they’re finishing, their hands will go up on their hand, and give them some feedback
and monitoring of how they’re going, I think that will help you to understand who’s got
the knowledge, who hasn’t got the knowledge, and whether you need to stop or reteach. Video
practices have helped me as a teacher for two main reasons. One reason is so you can
see your strengths, which is important, to be able to see, so you can continue to build
on those strengths and continue to use them in the classroom, but also so I can reflect
upon my weaknesses in the classroom. Teachers are wonderful at thinking back at what they
did well in the lesson and how they can improve, but when they actually see the lesson—and
we always do it with a wide-angle lens so they can see how the children react to what
they’re doing as well—they’re able to pick up things that they normally wouldn’t have
picked up in a self-reflection. The videos of practice have helped us a school in a number
of different ways. So yes, obviously in terms of helping that teacher in that class improve
his or her practice. But in a wider sense, what it’s allowed us to do is diffuse practice
across the school rapidly. So by taking videos of teachers and observing good practice, we
can then share those videos amongst other teachers, so they get to see it without intruding
in the classroom or without separation from their own class.

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