As a PGCE tutor, I do a lot of lesson observations. I’ve also just completed a module for my Masters on Coaching and Mentoring. It often comes up in discussion about the benefits of the teacher themselves being able to observe themselves. Teachers are often suprised when they see their lesson from a different perspective.
The use of video allows teachers to make more specific observations than if they have to rely on memory (see Rosaen et al., 2008). The use of video allows the observer to slow things down and so facilitates specific and detailed observations. Parts of the session can be replayed, which enables the observer to capture what was missed the first time either orally or visually.
Technology also allows moments to be frozen in time through the isolation of specific clips that can be extracted for further analysis. This would be useful for looking at body language and visual cues – it would be possible to even watch the film with the sound off and look purely at visual cues.
Many schools are implementing peer coaching systems where colleagues observe each others lessons. I’m also aware of schools that are looking for examples of good practise to share on CPD days etc.
With this in mind, I was very interested to get involved with a product called IRIS Connect. This is essentially a networked video camera which can be positioned at the back of a classroom. A web-based interface allows the teacher to record a lesson themselves, or for an observer to record it for them. With an observer, the camera can be panned and zoomed around as needed. The teacher wears a bluetooth microphone to make it easy for sound to be recorded.
The video is recorded on the system and can be recalled at any time. It can be shared with colleagues, or kept private.
When watching the video – an observer can add notes which are timestamped alongside the video and can even be overlaid. The teacher can also make notes, or respond to the questions from the observer. Schools can add electronic versions of their lesson observation sheets to allow different criteria to be recorded, which can then be printed as a report.
It’s an interesting bit of kit – and I’ve already been into schools which are using this as part of a CPD programme on improving teaching and learning through observations and peer coaching.
If you are interested in finding out more about IRIS, then check out their website. If you do get them in for a trial – please tell them where you heard about them! If you’re in North America, check out: http://www.therenow.net/
By way of disclosure – I am now an approved trainer for Iris Connect, and so am part of the team providing training on this product in schools.
Rosaen, C., Lundeberg, M., Cooper, M., Fritzen, A., & Terpstra, M. (2008) Noticing: How does investigation of video records change how teachers reflect on their experiences? Journal of Teacher Education. 59 (4), 347-360.
More research on the Iris Connect website.