“I recorded my classes. I listened to what I said, how I said it, what the reaction was, and how much background noise was going on in the classroom. Using these recordings…I identified problem areas
I noticed when some things didn’t go the way I expected and sought out corrective solutions. I went back to some of my mentors and had new questions to ask them. And, I also sought out answers on my own…”
Watching a video of me is very hard to do. I don’t think anyone likes watching themselves on video. When I applied for National Board Certification, I had to video myself teaching three lessons. Then I had to watch them and write up a reflection about each one. That is where I really learned how to critique myself. It wasn’t just enough to watch myself. I had to really think about why I did what I did. Then I had to decide if that was the best way to do this and if not, what I would change.
This takes practice and it isn’t easy. I would start off the school year by videotaping my classes. Yes, they students hated it! I first cleared with the administration and I spoke with the parents. I explained I was videotaping my lessons in order to be a better teacher. How could either group have a problem with that! I then shared the same reason with my students so they would know that I was constantly trying to be a better teacher.
Sometimes I would discuss some changes in class and explain to them why we were making the changes. I would share with them some of the things I didn’t see working and wanted to try something better. I also hoped that this would be a great way to show them that I can’t control other people’s actions but I could control my own.
When I watched the video, I could see that sometimes I acted in a certain way that caused my students to act in a certain way. Sometimes I didn’t even realize I was doing this! By becoming aware of my own actions, I was able to change or two of my own behaviors and then watch on the video to see if that helped. It amazed me that it did change the way my students reacted to me.
As the school year progressed, I started seeing positive changes happen in my classroom. I started to see that I was being more effective and efficient. I started to see how simple changes can cause bigger changes in the classroom. These changes did not cost money and these changes didn’t take a lot of effort.
I really recommend this if you haven’t tried it before. I’m not saying to tape yourself every class but think about which class you struggle the most with and start there. Record yourself once a week during this time and then make time to review it. It may be an eye opener.
Image: 'Canon EOS 5D Mark II'