5 Tips for Using Video as a Professional Learning Tool for Teachers
You know that feeling you get when you hear yourself on tape, or see yourself on video? Is that really what I sound like? Do I really look like that?
April Strong can relate. After all, she has filmed herself teaching more than most. And she says it’s worth the awkwardness of watching herself on screen.
“Video brought clarity to my practice so I could bring the greatest work to my classroom for my students. That’s the power of video. Nobody told me I had to do it. There was no other reason other than it was the perfect time, because I was wondering what I truly looked like as a teacher. Video was, and is still, very clarifying. I might be [using] the most effective strategy ever, but if I don’t actually see it like my students saw it, I’m not growing and I’m not truly clear on if I hit my target. That’s what makes me most passionate about video in the classroom.”
As a teacher at Martin County School District in Florida, April has been using video to grow and develop her own teaching practice for years. Now as an instructional coach, she is using this technology to support other teachers in the same way.
“All you need is your cell phone, and a place to prop it up, and the bravery to literally just push that red button. So to get started with video, it’s just a matter of being brave enough to push record and commit to actually watching — maybe not the full video, but enough of it to realize there’s something to grow from.”
Don’t let technical missteps get you down.
When April first began using video, it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“That whole first week or so of recordings has become a highlight reel for me, in that I captured no audio, most of my back, none of anything that I needed and everything that I never knew I wanted in order to clarify my practice. So it was very clunky, and not a lot of great video product came from the first multiple attempts. But it’s been the most beautiful journey, and most vulnerable journey, that I’ve allowed myself to go on with my students watching.”
Providing a springboard for reflection can help teachers get more out of watching their videos:
“What are some things you should ask yourself or ask a person if you’re watching their video? Offering sentence stems or question prompts for yourself or for a person you’re watching is a really great resource to slowly start to edge into giving feedback.”
Encourage teachers to share videos with colleagues.
April describes a collaborative conversation around a video she shared of using hands-on lessons as she was teaching science. She said that her colleagues were able to see aspects of her teaching that she hadn’t noticed herself:
“I wanted to show the engagement strategies that I included with these hands-on lessons and how I managed that. They helped me grow my practice and make my hands-on lessons more manageable than I thought I needed. I was missing some management pieces. I might not have noticed that I could have moved students in a group more easily around the room, or if I asked a question and answer response this way I could save some minutes, because I was really struggling to finish my hands-on labs. And I shared that with the team. So as they watched, they were really looking at where my wasted minutes were that I was oblivious to…
“The power that comes from watching yourself on video, the conversation you have, I think is a deeper way of learning, not just about yourself but also about your profession.”
But be sure to make recording and sharing videos optional.
Many people may be resistant to the idea of using video at first, April says. The key is to make it optional, and find someone who is willing to lead the charge and model for everyone else.
“[Don’t tell] anyone else they should do it, but do it for yourself and do it for a while, and whether or not you choose to share it is your personal choice, but if you’re not pushing ‘go, record,’ then you’re not going to get any further with video for yourself or as a program for your school district…
“I pushed record that day because I was assured, in the video that I was using, it would be stored in a place that was password-protected. Only I could see it, and it would not be shared or go live until I was in control of doing that, and I was the only person able to do that. And I think that’s the most powerful piece about a video program is having full control over your video until you’re ready to share it and collaborate around it.”
Looking for a way for teachers to share and collaborate around their own videos of teaching practice? Check out Learning & Collaboration Resources, part of Frontline Professional Growth. Through online collaborative groups, teachers can share and discuss videos, artifacts, lesson plans, earn micro-credentials, and use a massive library of courses and videos of instructional strategies and techniques.