Video in teacher observation: Are we ready? - SmartBrief

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Video in teacher observation: Are we ready?

3 min read


This post is sponsored by Insight Education Group.

Students need great teachers. But given the heightened expectations and challenges presented by new standards and assessments, do teachers have the support they need to drive student achievement?

According to new poll data from Smartbrief and Insight Education Group, an educational consulting and product development firm, most of today’s teachers need more out of observations and professional learning than they currently get. But what is particularly noteworthy is teachers’ overwhelming interest in the use of classroom video technology to make it happen.

Teachers from across the country were asked about their current experiences with observation and evaluation, as well as how they see video benefiting practices. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Nearly 70% of respondents said they don’t feel they receive meaningful and actionable feedback on their instructional practices.
  • 91% of respondents are in favor of filming their instructional practices for observations and professional development. These educators reported that videos of their teaching—for use in self-reflection, informal observation and professional learning communities (PLCs)—would help them improve their practices.

Here’s what’s interesting: In another SmartBrief poll of school leaders, the majority of respondents thought teachers would be opposed to filming their instruction and view teacher resistance as the biggest hurdle to incorporating it in observation and evaluation processes.

But in contrast, 77% of teachers said they would be open to selecting and submitting videos of their teaching for use in a formal observation or evaluation.

Teachers are ready

Video as a tool for instructional coaching and professional learning offers something traditional classroom observations and feedback can’t—holistic, empirical and impartial proof of a teacher’s effectiveness. Video provides the common evidence that initiates meaningful dialogue between educators and establishes the common reference point teachers need to accept feedback and grow.

And, as the data shows, teachers are ready to film their instruction. They see video as a way to:

  • Receive more frequent, meaningful and actionable feedback on their instruction.
  • Evaluate their own practices and identify opportunities for improvement through self-reflection.
  • Get personalized and specific support for their grade level and content area.
  • Ensure observations and evaluations are accurate and fair.
  • Share best practices and effective techniques and collaborate more effectively with other teachers.

Classroom video captures actual practices in real time, making observers’ feedback more relevant, unbiased and valuable. Using video of instruction opens the door for a new way to use informal and formal observations to truly improve practices and provide teachers the support they need to feel confident in their classrooms.

Teachers are clearly looking for more support and better feedback to improve their practices. And the data shows that using classroom video for not only professional learning, but even evaluation, is a solution teachers are eager to try. It’s time to start thinking bigger about the way teachers are supported and seeing what great teaching looks like.

Insight Education Group is an educational consulting and product development firm that supports the growth of teachers and school leaders.

Michael Moody is the Founder and CEO of Insight Education Group. His experiences as a classroom teacher, school and district administrator and consultant have given him a unique perspective on both the challenges and opportunities in education today.