Evaluating Learning

For the last four weeks I have spent part of my day in a classroom with three other educators. This classroom has twenty-four students. It has been a struggle each and everyday. I am tempted to describe the class in this post then I decided it did not matter, what mattered is what I did to solve this problem.

So each day I would come home and reflect on my day.  What I came up with was each of us has a different teaching philosophy and we were all on different paths. Now the question is how do we bridge the gap? How do we engage our students when the educators do not agree on the same approach?

Then yesterday it came to me when one of my colleagues was teaching a reading comprehension strategy. She was modeling her thinking process. I think this is important for young students to see and experience. I went over to my bag and pulled out my flip camera and proceeded to tape her lesson. For me, this is something I do when I see something valuable in the learning process. Sometimes it is when a teacher teaches a lesson other times it is when I see students collaborating, investigating, discovering or creating. Here is the video, I apologize it is not the best quality but it was done on the spot.

Today I told the students we were going to watch the video. The students reacted with excitement. As the video played I stood looking at them as they watched the video. It was very different from when the teacher was in front of the room teaching them the reading strategies. Yesterday they were slumped in their chairs, some playing with their pencils and papers, others not paying attention at all. Now all the students were sitting up attentively, eyes transfixed on the screen.  I think they were looking for themselves on the video but I purposely did not include them because I wanted to focus entirely on the teacher and her delivery. I let them watch and see for themselves.

My Reflection

My first thought as I grabbed my camera was I had to keep the lesson so we did not have to reteach it over and over to the students not paying attention.  I think the video is a good resource that should be embedded to our class wiki. As educators we are always trying to share with our parents strategies that help students learn and what better way than to let them see it in action.  But now looking back I think there is a more powerful message.

What occurred to me is that the very act of videotaping our lesson is how we can analyze ourselves teaching.  This is how we become better educators. The “Ah Ha” moment has arrived! This is how the teachers in the room can mesh their teaching philosophies. We can see what works and what does not engage our students.

Which brings me to the question of videotaping lessons. Some educators are reluctant to be videotaped and I understand their nervousness but at the same time tremendous growth can be achieved.  Therefore, how will the video be used becomes the big question. Here is an article from the Washington Post on the subject of Teacher Evaluations. What are your views on the topic?

Image Credits

Teachers as Leaders on Flickr by Willrich

Video from YouTube by cgermano1

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