As part of our ‘becoming an outstanding teacher’ CPD, we were discussing the STAR lesson observation system we have bought into. You basically get 2 cameras, one at the back of the room capturing you teaching, and the other at the front, capturing the student’s response.
I am genuinely quite excited about the prospect of being able to see myself in action, and find out what habits I have as a teacher, both good and bad. The lesson observation system in schools is a very subjective one, with your feedback being strongly biased towards your observers preferred teaching style (usually). The opportunity to be able to be your own observer is a really fantastic one.
I feel I’m probably the choir being preached at with this, as I already use this blog, among other tools, to reflect in a structured way on my teaching and general practice. The surprise for me was the vehemence with which some members of staff argued against this system. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that some people are camera phobic, and would rather eat their own arm than have to watch a video of themselves, but there are ways round that! Simply use only one of the two cameras, pointed at the students – their responses to you (and you’ll be able to hear yourself) will tell you plenty about your lesson, without having to look at yourself once.
I was having a very enthusiastic conversation with a colleague about the whole system, and the potential for the flipped classroom too, when a voice piped up from behind us with a question. Our Principal had snuck in while we were deep in conversation (ok, he probably just walked in, but we didn’t notice!) and so we had a wonderful opportunity to have a really long conversation with him about how to implement all these ideas in school. It was really great to see how enthusiastic he is about innovation in teaching, as I often feel like the odd one out at the moment!
He likened the STAR system to analyse your teaching to the process by which professional golfers try to improve. They might be #1, but they will still spend hours analysing videos of their swing, in order to hone it to perfection. That is what we should be doing as teachers, in some way or another, honing our professional skills to be the best we can be.
I’ve been the ‘plodder’ in the past, who gets in a little rut, and it’s easy, and comfortable, and you don’t have to spend hours planning etc… but I love being the innovator SO much more!! I don’t mind the planning, and the nerves when you try something new – the rush when it works, and students are enthused, positive, and motivated, more than makes up for it.
A discussion I’ve had with another colleague recently was about a trial somewhere to allow students to give feedback on lessons. They had a website set up where the students could log in at the end of the day, and rate each lesson on 3 criteria [I think they were a) how much I enjoyed the lesson b) how much I think I learned c) how much effort I put in]
I’d be nervous, sure! However, I think it would really make a difference to get the students viewpoint on my lessons, and what really worked for them, and what didn’t. I may have to trial a paper version….
All in all, this week has really driven home the importance of being a reflective teacher.
In other news, I left my iPad at home by accident today, and I can think of no better way to describe my feelings as ‘separation anxiety’! I hadn’t realised how much I was using it in my teaching until it wasn’t there. I found myself wanting to share a students work on the board, and I couldn’t just pop it in front of the camera and plug in my iPad to the projector. I had to use a whiteboard pen again today!!!!!!!!! 😮