Do you remember the first time you heard a recording of your voice?
‘Do I really sound like that?’ would probably have been your first reaction.
For the average person, I think it’s always a bit uncomfortable listening to one’s own voice.
How would you feel watching yourself teach?
One of the appraisal options in our school is to record a video of yourself teaching and analyse it in line with one of your goals. For me, I wanted to find out how consistent I was in following through with our classroom management plan.
Here’s the exact wording from our Appraisal Data Collection document:
I set up my Surface Pro at the back of the room and started recording before class began. I deliberately did not tell my students I was recording the session so they would just be themselves. I also tried to forget about it which was pretty easy to do as soon as teaching began.
The class I recorded was Numeracy where I had four groups doing different activities, one of which was teaching time with me.
After school, I mustered the courage to watch the video, telling myself to go easy on me.
Silence ≠ Focus
One student in the problem solving group was not making any sound but was being distracting to others (miming words, making faces, etc.) This went on for at least five minutes, after which he moved seats and settled into the task.
This reminded me that silence does not necessarily equal focus. The students’ back was to me so I didn’t see the distracting actions and no sound meant it didn’t attract my attention.
‘silence does not necessarily equal focus’
Though I was surprised upon watching this, I was very proud when after a few minutes the same student decided to move and focus on his work. Despite starting distracted, he knew to take responsibility over his own learning.
Pause and observe
One thing I loathed as a student was when a teacher would get angry with or give a consequence to the wrong child. Thus, I believe it is important to pause and observe before giving out any warning or consequence to anyone. This was one area I saw myself consistent in, quickly studying my students’ actions before making a decision to give a warning.
Even if observing only takes a few seconds at a time, it did make me wonder: Does this have adverse effects on my teaching group as I would have to momentarily shift my focus from them to others? How can I strike a balance between making sure everyone else is on task whilst actively teaching my small group?
How can I strike a balance between making sure everyone else is on task whilst actively teaching my small group?
One answer I have found is by making sure that each group is ready to engage in the tasks assigned to them. How? By modelling this beforehand, making expectations clear and selecting resources appropriate for their level of understanding and skill.
Are they learning?
Whilst I expected silence from the other groups, the occasional chatter I saw on the video either was related to their task or unrelated but it wasn’t stopping them from working. This brought a few questions to mind: What is a healthy mix of silence and talk in the classroom? Why do many people think that quiet classrooms are the best?
What is a healthy mix of silence and talk in the classroom?
Why do many people think that quiet classrooms are the best?
As much as I prefer to have all other groups silent so my teaching group can be free from distraction, I loved that students in the other groups were debating about how to solve the problems and how others kept on task even as they happily chatted.
There is still much to learn for me in this area but I believe one good guide question for any teaching practice is this: Are the students learning?
Get the camera out
Watching my self-video made me see things I would not have otherwise observed. As I’ve shared above, it sparked some questions worthy of further investigation in the quest of being a better teacher for my students.
My encouragement to you?
Watch yourself teach.
A good laugh and great insights are guaranteed.