I’ve been working away on the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant (TQP) at UNI and I wanted to share a little about what I’ve been up to. For those who aren’t familiar with the grant, the TQP grant is examining what it means to be an effective teacher. It is important to distinguish between effective and qualified as qualified stresses do you know the content, have you completed a teacher prep program, etc. Effective on the other hand gets at, you’ve shown you are qualified, but now are you able to be effective in your classroom to impact student learning. In order to determine what effective looks like we have to be able to document it in some way, which brings me to today’s post. How would you record yourself in your classroom to formatively evaluate yourself to determine if you are really being effective?
I’ve been looking at all the different possibilities for recording teachers and am trying to keep in mind the realistic nature of doing this in addition to all the other stuff teachers do during the course of their day, not to mention the costs of purchasing equipment. So I’m trying to take a few different approaches. Approach one is to capture the entire picture of the classroom using a 360° camcorder. The benefits of this approach, I think, is that we can see what all the students are doing in the classroom when the teacher is up front teaching. There are some cost problems with this approach as the cameras tend to be pricey and there are limited options in terms of different 360° camcorders.
Another approach I’m taking is looking getting as much of the classroom environment as I can using a fisheye lens camcorder. I haven’t tested this, or any others for the fact, yet, but potentially you could put the camcorder in the corner of the classroom and capture the backs of everyone in the class and the teacher at the front of the room. The biggest problem here is cost since these camcorders tend to be much more expensive than the garden variety. However, I think there is merit in examining all the different avenues, so I’m definitely going to give this setup serious thought.
The next approach is probably the simplest, which is to take any run of the mill camcorder and put it in the classroom where it will capture the most students and the teacher. Similar to the previous approach, but without the higher cost. Biggest downfall, though is the lack of the entire picture.
In conversations with others, yet another approach has emerged that needs to be addressed as well. How do you record the small group interactions that take place in classrooms that are more student-centered? Certainly there will be a number of situations where the teacher doesn’t do much “teaching” but rather more facilitating. How do you capture those sometimes intimate situations or conversations with the teacher and student? A 360° camcorder likely isn’t going to cut it, and I’m not sure a camcorder in the back of the room will either. I probably wouldn’t want to carry around a camera, even if it was a small one like a Flip, when I’m teaching, so what’s the answer?
I’m interested to see what others have to say, in particular, any guidance you have for me as I move forward with making a procedure to use in the grant. I have some more ideas, but nothing I’m really prepared to throw out there, at least not yet. Feel free to comment on the post or send me a message on Twitter.