In my undergraduate days, I absolutely hated recording myself. It was a painful process. I would master a trumpet excerpt (or so I thought) and record it for the perfect audition tape, play it back, and want to throw my instrument against the wall.
I recently had a very similar experience while trying to record a teaching episode.
For a summer course I’m teaching, I want to have an arsenal of examples for how I structure a lesson, manage a classroom, and do all of those things that an effective teacher should do. What i was unprepared for was discovering all the things I was doing uneffectively. I realized instantly that I needed to record my teaching more than once a year, and here are three reasons that you should too.
1. You’ll discover disconnects.
You have the perfect lesson plan. Each and every activity is bullet pointed with the perfect sequence and that musical transition you’ve been aching to use. You get to the end of your lesson, take a breath, and realize you didn’t touch half of what you wanted to.
Where was the disconnect?
Having hard evidence of your teaching process lets you analyze where you went wrong, or what steps you missed even though you swore you recapped the learning targets for the day. It’s hard to negate what you see on video.
In working with pre-service teachers, I see this all the time. They have a beautiful lesson plan, but get in their own heads and the plan goes out the window. Now don’t get me wrong, often the best lessons happen when you go off the plan and follow the kids, but there are other times that you go off the plan and crash and burn. Reflecting purposefully, with video evidence, gives you the opportunity to examine where things went sour and think of solutions for how to keep it sweet the next time around.
2. You’ll see everything.
Watching your classroom from the “outside in” for the first time is priceless. Yes, I know we are expert monitors and move around the room diligently to keep tabs on all of our kids. But it is impossible to see everyone all the time.
Taking a step back and really looking at individual students as they are going through the learning process gives you the opportunity to think critically about what differentiation you can provide for each and every learner in your classroom. The sweet girl in pigtails who you thought had mastered a skill might miss a beat when the class applies the learning to a new activity. Or the shy boy in class may have had an awesome idea he whispered to his neighbor, but was too nervous to tell you.
Not only can you observe behavior (both good and bad), but you can interpret student comprehension and understanding that you may not have noticed standing at the front of the room.
3. You’ll be inspired to set goals.
Aside from noticing the “ums” and “likes” in your speech, or your poor posture at the white board, videoing your teaching gives you hard evidence and data (love those buzzwords!!) from which to set measurable goals in teaching and learning.
Take the opportunity to bridge those disconnects and reach those individual students, and track your progress through more video recording. The more teaching episodes you record, the more evidence you will have, and the more progress you can show for teaching evaluations or otherwise.
It can be a painful process. There will be things that you don’t like about your presence in the classroom. But reframe your thinking constructively: there will be things you love and things you can do better.