The Benefits of Adding Video to Teacher Evaluations

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A big challenge facing K-12 education today is ensuring that teacher evaluations evolve with available technology in an effective and productive way. In 2012, Miriam Greenberg and the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard piloted the Best Foot Forward Project to study the impact video could have on teacher evaluation.

The project included evaluating the review process in large and small districts in both urban and rural areas. Half of the teachers in a district were randomly selected to take videos of themselves in the classroom, using an iPad® on a Swivl mount. The videos were passed on to their principals for evaluations. The other half of the teachers conducted evaluations how they typically did.

After conducting the study for two-years, the results found that teachers benefited from using video during their evaluations:

  1. The conversation was less adversarial. Using video, as a reference point helped eliminate disagreements among teachers and principals, which made teachers more open to constructive feedback.
  2. They got more specific and actionable feedback. Audiovisual documentation helped make it clear what teachers were doing well, and what could use improvement.
  3. They saw more of what their students were doing. In today’s tech-driven classrooms there’s a lot going on, using video helped teachers notice things they were missing in class.

Principals also benefited more from the video evaluations compared to more traditional approaches:

  1. Their conversations with teachers were more fruitful. As noted above, in a less adversarial atmosphere there was more collaboration.
  2. They spent more time observing instruction and less time doing paperwork. While the evaluations using video did take longer than traditional evaluations, a greater percentage of time was spent watching teachers teach.
  3. They had more flexibility in when they did their observation. Rather than taking time out of their school day to observe teachers, video evaluations allow principals to review anytime, anywhere.

With the success video evaluations have found, its expansion into more district seems quite likely. While there are numerous options when it comes to video in the classroom, leveraging existing devices by using affordable platforms like Swivl may make the most sense for large scale-rollouts.

Source: Miriam Greenberg – eSchool News

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