Friday, June 8, 2012

Another reason why I carry a video camera when I'm in a school... capture best practices

How can a teacher give another teacher useful feedback?  By visiting the other teacher's classroom, unannounced, just drop in to pick up a book or put up a poster...  with a digital video camera.

Sporadic observations with near-immediate feedback help, but even better is a quietly captured teacher-led moment -- capture the segment on video so that the other teacher can see what he looks like.

"To see ourselves as others see us."   There are few principals who are as adept at the drive-through observation and the timely follow-up as Diane Grondin.  I learned this technique of the "drop in" observation from Ms. Grondin, a charter-school principal, and I hope to emulate her fabulous memory by using my video camera (appropriately).  

Here are some examples of what I picked up while observing Omar Vasile.  best practices  (how to guide presentations by students)  I captured this and other clips during my break time when I spent several weeks teaching in a school in South Florida.   In five weeks I spent 25 hours in that teacher's classroom and actively invested at least two hours of that time observing the teacher.  I selected moments to video (with his permission) and analysed the video or the class later with him.  The results are on   best practices (using a mobile phone effectively -- being a role model)   Teacher talk (how to tell stories and capture attention.... "There was this guy who made a mistake..."  oh?   What did he do?  ...Omar got your attention...)  a teacher demonstrates random learning, careful meandering, purposeful exploring and clicking  (what's over the horizon?)  

A teacher who is open to observation is also a teacher who is likely to be open to learning more.  I hear that he is available for work teaching history or social studies.   His jokes disarm and jostle the students just enough to reset their boredom countdown clock...  Every two or three minutes, someone starts to wander, and Omar is ready with a remark to grab someone's attention (or to reset everyone in the room to pursue the task at hand).

I'm looking forward to visiting Omar in his next teaching position, to see what I might learn by observing his best practices.

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