Recording in the Classroom: Some Tips

I’ve been busy @unitqp lately.  We recently just wrapped up participation week, which is when the majority of level three students (field experience typically before student teaching that requires 30 hours in the field) complete the field experience of their methods course.  Through the work of the grant we are trying something new where we record our students when they are out in the field and use that as a way to show/highlight areas the students are doing well and not so well.  One thing many of us can attest to is that it is easy to gloss over something that didn’t go so well when writing an essay or creating a portfolio.  This creates a system that promotes students without addressing some of the underlying developmental problems that could be preventing them from becoming excellent teachers.

With the use of video we are hoping to prevent more instances where students slip through the cracks.  Now that we have had our maiden voyage as it were, there are some things that I wanted to share some tips about recording yourself in the classroom.  If you want to learn more about the process the students went through, go here.

  • If someone is available to help record while you are teaching, have them help.  The video will only be as good as it is pointed in the direction of all the action in the classroom.  While this may not be a problem for the traditional teacher who lectures all period, this may be more problematic for the student centered teachers that move around a lot in the classroom.
  • If someone does help you record, have them use a tripod.  There is nothing worse than shaky video and it’s even worse when the audio is scratchy because they were touching the microphone without knowing it.
  • Reduce the ambient noise in the room if possible.  Turn fans, radios, and anything else that makes noise off.  Also close windows and doors.  This may seem simple, and it is, but the quality of the audio will improve dramatically.  Which is important because the video is as much about seeing your actions as it is hearing your words.
  • Move the camcorder as close as possible to the source of audio, while still capturing the video you need to see.  For example, if you have a camcorder setup in the very back of the room with 5 rows of desks, but students only sit in the first two rows, move the camcorder closer to the front of the room, while still behind the students.  This will result in louder and more clear audio.
  • If you can export the video from the device to a useable medium, then use that as your camcorder regardless if it is your phone, iPod, iPad, or a standard camcorder.  We used a variety of camcorders and had good results across each.  Some performed better than others, but the quality of video was still very nice.  You don’t need to have high end equipment to get high end results.
  • If sharing your video with someone else, cut the length down to a manageable amount.  No one really needs to see you teach for 50 plus minutes.  Instead, target the area you want to improve upon the most or that will help your friend improve the most.  The Teacher Performance Assessment Consortium (TPAC) requires only 10 minutes of video for their teacher performance assessments at the pre-service level.  Whether or not this is enough for in-service teachers, I’m unsure.  Regardless, take ten minutes to cut out some of the material that isn’t going to add value to your practice and share everything else.
  • As with everything that includes minors, get parent permission if you plan to use the video for anything beyond your own reflection.
  • When you are done with the video, never to use it again, delete it.  No need to dwell on the past.
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2 thoughts on “Recording in the Classroom: Some Tips

  1. Nice post with lots of good tips for recording class sessions that almost any teacher can use. Although it may seem like a lot more work, using a second camera (from a different angle) can be a way to capture your lessons more completely. The second camera, even if static on it’s own tripod, will also help if the main camera recording gets messy or…worst case…erased. Thanks for the post!

  2. I agree. A second camera if possible, is a great way to go about seeing your teaching from a different angle. If you have access to software like Panopto, that should make it a little bit easier to share and view your lesson from both cameras (as well as anything done on the computer).

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