I recently read Jim Knight’s Focus on Teaching which explains how to use video as a way of enhancing instruction. In my team, we’ve been having sporadic discussions on videotaping our lessons to be able to reflect in more depth about our teaching practice. The book helped me better understand how to use video and go beyond simply recording and watching.
Since then, I have recorded parts of my classes a few times and it’s been an interesting experience to watch them. Knight mentions how teachers should watch the first time to get through all of the initial thoughts about seeing oneself from the outside; I didn’t think this would affect me as much as I didn’t have any hesitations about watching, but I’ve found that I naturally ended up focusing on myself for a bit.
Once I got over the initial wonderment at watching myself and my students on video, I was able to get more serious about assessing my practice. Knight recommends spending some time watching just the teacher’s actions in class and then spending some time watching just the students. Although I haven’t used the worksheets from his book quite yet, I was excited to see all of the little things I was able to notice when focusing in on specific people or actions.
Video recording is a practice that I still need to learn more about and practice a lot more. However, as an initial assessment, I have found that it offers me a chance to step out of myself, take off my own teacher hat and just watch myself as an outsider. Classrooms are such complex, busy places that it is easy to overlook small moments that seem unimportant at the time. Looking back, I have found that it is those small moments that offer us insights we would never otherwise have about the way in which we teach and the way our students learn.
Thank you, Jim Knight, for helping me begin to understand the value and importance of video in the classroom. I look forward to delving into this practice more often in order to work towards being a better educator.
For more resources from Knight’s book, please see the following website: http://www.corwin.com/focusonteaching/chapter.htm.