Fantastic Feedback: Professional Development through Video
How classroom cameras expand and enhance educator experience—and why that’s crucial.
by Kevin McVicar, Audio Enhancement Regional Educational Specialist and Educator on Staff
The recent Covid pandemic has forced educators to radically shift and adapt to deliver instruction in new ways using a variety of technological tools. Teachers have risen to the monumental task, often providing instruction both in their classrooms and via web conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. Despite the pandemic’s disruption to education, it’s had at least one major positive impact. It’s hastened a tech trend that had already been gaining ground: the use of classroom cameras. Look what teachers are saying about their experience with classroom video feedback:
“I have my video running all day now. I love it! It helps me so much to be able to go back to see what set off the last tantrum! It is also very easy, and I thought it would be overwhelming.”
“I learned about myself: the words I repeat, the side of the room I face more, and how often I call on certain students. It’s worth it to record yourself.”
“I love seeing what I missed when I was teaching, whether it’s a behavior, a step I didn’t explain as well, the ratio of praise to correction. It’s been so helpful!”
Professional Development in Education via Classroom Cameras
Having a camera in the classroom was once a novelty but has now become more common and is often considered an essential tool for teachers. Some educators may feel intimidated by new tech or even a bit camera shy about being recorded as they teach, but most find that the benefits far outweigh any initial hesitancy they may have. Not only can video technology facilitate more efficient interactions between teachers and students, but it can greatly enhance communication between teachers and administration as well.
In 2012, the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University started conducting research on the use of video in classrooms for teacher evaluations. Their findings, published in an initial study in 2015, detail the benefits and potential of using video for observations and professional development. Now several years later, the research still holds tremendous promise for improving the quality of classrooms throughout the country.
An incredible surge in classroom camera access, a shifting paradigm, and encouraging research together form the trifecta that will allow us to reconceptualize the potential of education and specifically, the quality of training offered to dedicated educators. Now, more than anytime in the history of education, the potential for better teacher observation, feedback, evaluation, and instructional coaching is possible because of classroom cameras.
Professional Development Goals for Teachers
As more and more classroom cameras are installed—and as more educators come to rely on them as an integral tool in their teaching—studies continue to verify the efficacy of using video for teacher self-reflection, observation, and evaluation. Consider these professional development goals and objectives that recording makes possible.
Observation that Generates Positive Change
Awareness is the first step of improvement. Tom Kane from the Harvard Graduate School of Education explains that “it is neurologically impossible to get someone to remember [or improve upon] something they didn’t notice in the first place.” Cameras allow us to notice teaching habits, behaviors, and interactions we would otherwise miss, whether in our own teaching or in that of someone we’re evaluating.
According to Libby Fischer in a recent article about the role of video in professional development training, “Teachers may enter the profession with a preconceived idea about what good instruction is supposed to look like. According to a study by Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research, this leads to ‘imitative, rather than intentional, practice.’ It goes on to explain that ‘Systematic self-reflection, on the other hand, sharpens the intentionality of the practitioner and allows him or her to address the unique challenges of the classroom.’”
Most educators are incredibly dedicated to helping their students grow and learn, and the same attention and excitement for personal development can motivate teachers to increase their quality of instruction. That’s most feasible when they can observe themselves and identify areas in need of improvement.
Efficient Feedback that Saves Time
Administrators and instructional coaches can now provide feedback and fulfill observation requirements without being constrained by the school day schedule. It’s a huge opportunity to extend the amount of time available for providing feedback to teachers on their instructional practices. In schools that require numerous classroom visits throughout the year by administrators, this can now be done beyond the hours students and teachers are at school. Even though there is a difference between an in-class observation and a video recording of the same teacher and class, the benefits realized through the flexibility offered by the recordings is substantial.
Fischer points out that “video coaching allows for a more targeted approach to feedback and actually takes less time than observing in a classroom setting. This way of coaching is not only efficient, but it also helps both the coach and teacher look back on the lesson and take notes. With video coaching, a school leader can watch directly what a teacher is doing or the teacher can record a lesson and send the segments they want feedback on through [an] app at any time.”
Teachers can also evaluate themselves through video in order to determine scenarios that could run more efficiently. For example, every teacher transitions from one part of the day or part of a lesson to another. These transitions are extremely important in the allocation and use of instructional time. The less time spent in transitions, the more time that becomes available for instruction. Having the ability to record and analyze these transitions has not been possible to do as easily as it can be done now with the introduction and use of classroom cameras. Saving even five minutes a day in transitions can add up to many hours of instructional time available to teachers over the course of a year.
Audio Enhancement has developed the tools and platforms needed for teachers to easily record lessons and instruction into a privately controlled platform. This VIEWpath solution integrates cameras installed in the classroom, along with additional point-of-view recording options through a mobile app that can be installed on a phone or tablet. It allows teachers to schedule recordings at certain times of day and certain days of the week. Another feature that teachers love is the ability to manually start a recording through their computer or even from a lanyard mic that they wear to distribute sound evenly throughout the classroom.
Further Reach that Promotes Teacher Collaboration
The effectiveness of classroom cameras is not limited by geographic location. Urban, suburban, rural, wealthy, and poor districts all benefit from video coaching. Teachers and schools now have a whole new way of leveraging video, allowing collaboration and community building amongst staff that was not possible before. In the past, arranging a visit to a colleague’s classroom has been a constant logistical challenge for many schools, but now the ability to record lessons allows for easy collaboration and immediate feedback.
Educators have started to form “video clubs” in which they share valuable best practices and build camaraderie. Classroom cameras and other tech tools have the potential to create professional learning communities that can enhance specific building PLCs and can extend these opportunities beyond the constraints of a location.
Increased Support that Boosts Teacher Retention
Effective professional development, feedback, and mentoring is important for all teachers no matter their tenure, but for new teachers entering the profession it is vital. Eye-opening statistics indicate that approximately 40 percent of teachers leave the profession in the first two years. One of the most effective ways to reduce this concerning number is to increase the support and training of these teachers.
An effective professional development plan includes the following components, all of which can be enhanced via video:
- 1 – is content focused
- 2 – incorporates active learning utilizing adult learning theory
- 3 – supports collaboration, typically in job-embedded contexts
- 4 – uses models and modeling of effective practice
- 5 – provides coaching and expert support
- 6 – offers opportunities for feedback and reflection
- 7 – is of sustained duration
This new era of technology coupled with a global pandemic has flung open the door to a much wider range of options for teachers to collaborate, evaluate, reflect, and improve their instruction. As more classroom tech becomes available to more teachers, these technologies will continue to change virtually every aspect of education.
Especially now, we should take advantage of this opportunity to better realize the purpose of staff development and achieve the most important professional goals for teachers. Thanks to classroom cameras, we can continue to see an increase in the quality of instruction, job satisfaction, and retention of our amazing educators. With more professional development through video, their camera confidence will translate into greater teaching confidence—the greatest gift they can give their students.
To find out how Audio Enhancement can supply your school or district with classroom cameras and video platforms, call 800-383-9362 or visit https://audioenhancement.com.