Most teachers know that being reflective in their teaching practices is an excellent method for improving how they teach. In a recent TED Talk by Bill Gates, he talked on the subject of teachers needing real feedback. Gates spoke of feedback not in the critical way that most teachers receive, such as administrative observations and negative feedback from upset parents. He spoke in terms of teachers observing others teachers to learn best practices in action, but a more practical method was using digital video recorders to observe themselves in their classroom and then make notes about their observations of themselves. While some districts do not have technology policies in place to handle this newer idea of self-reflection, many are giving teachers the latitude to do so. This of self-reflective method is great tool, because some teachers often express apprehension when other teachers or administrators are observing them. This apprehension is often born out of hypercritical experiences in the past. The method of recording their own classroom setting and reflecting themselves, eases this apprehension often and it gives the teacher a measurement tool to show growth and positive change to their administration. This type of observation should have the focus of the video set on the teacher and not on the students. When actually putting this method into practice, teachers should prepare their students by telling the class there is a recording about to happen and that it won’t be focusing on the students but on the teacher and for the purpose of improving teacher’s methods.
Simple Flip video cameras or smartphones cameras can be used to accomplish this type of recording; it depends on the teacher’s comfort level with technology. Once the teacher has recorded their lessons, the video footage can then be downloaded into a note-taking program like Evernote or Onenote to outline notations and observations. This workflow includes items that are readily available to educators at all levels either through the district or cheaply enough that they could purchase it themselves. As teachers observe behaviors or methods they can make notes to themselves about what they would like to change and add specific notes about how to improve. In the end video does not lie, so teachers have to come to terms with the positive and negative methods they employ in teaching their classes, this method of recording their classes expose them to this. It also helps to shield them from criticism from peers and administrators while they are working to improve methods or problems they are having in their classroom. In the end, it is a win for teachers because they can improve methods without having to be embarrassed in front of colleagues.